By Nasir Azam
We may define learning as a change in Behaviour which is more or less permanent in nature, and which results from activity, training, observation or insight. To say that learning must have taken place when there is a change in Behaviour is not enough; such a change must persist for a while. Momentary changes in Behaviour due to sensory adaptation may take place but learning is not necessarily involved.
The constant changes in the behavior of an individual, which is not brought about by maturation and development but by his own experiences is known as learning.
Dr. Abdul Hayee defines it as “ learning is the name of change in he Behaviour by the experiences of an individual.
Nature of learning
A deep observation of an individual shows that learning has an important place in his life. In human being, its importance further increases. Every voluntary action is known by learning. Without learning, a man can not think of his social, emotional and personal life. Learning is continues from birth and ends with death, and an individual learns from his environment through out his life.
Experiments and training gives a redial changes to thought and learning. These changes appear in man as habits, attitudes, aptitude, skills, knowledge, understanding and insight. The process of appearing these changes is known as learning. Learning is the behavioral change affected by the previous experiences and which gives new thoughts and wishes to him.
Steps of learning
According to Corback the steps of learning are following:
Every person has a desire or need which he wants to fulfil. He gets satisfaction if he achieve his goal. He tries his best to get it and discovers new ways and approaches to it. There can be many wishes at a time but we want to get immediate satisfying needs and postpone the others.
Need and readiness has a basic place in learning. Without mental and physical readiness, learning is impossible. Readiness includes physical strength, mental preparation, experiences of past and need for learning. Affection and love should be used for readiness instead of oppression.
Existent situation plays an important role in learning. If the situation does not allow a child to get the goal, he changes it and utilize his special Behaviour to get it.
Besides situation, the interaction of different activities is also essential. The interaction of child is different from the adult. Every individual works accordingly to its own interaction.
To get the goal, the individual adopts different ways according to the situation. After the interaction of the situation he thinks of different ways but test taken on different aspects and adopt a way accordingly the response or result of these tests.
6. Result or consequences
The consequences or result can effect the efforts of individual. The learning depends on the satisfaction of the individual. He learns better if he is encouraged in such activities.
7. Reaction to failure
Some time the result is not according to the goal. In this case, the individual thinks, evaluate and re-try or change his Behaviour and idea after the failure
Types of learning
Following are some major types of learning
Learning by trial and errors
This method is specific for animals, but can also be used by children and adults. In this kind of learning, the learner tries to learn something without thinking over it. Some of its efforts become successful while some fail. If the learner gets its goal after a long chain of successes and failures, and learns to do its work without any blunder and failure, this is the learning by trial and error.
In 1896, Thorndike began his study of animals. In his well-known experiments with cats he placed a young and lively cat in the cage and put a piece of fish outside. Plenty of action on the part of cat was observed. It pushed its claws through the bars, bit the bars and tried to squeeze through them. Eventually it touched the button, which held the cage door, the door opened and the cat got out. Again this hungry cat was placed in the cage, it still attempted a “trial and error” approach to the problem, but this time there were fewer actions and the door was opened sooner. With further trials the successful movements were stamped in and useless ones eliminated, so that on being placed in the cage once more the animal got out in couple of seconds.
The essentials of trial and error are the following;
- the presence of stimuli e.g hunger
- during continous struggle the successful action one is repeated
- Due to continous repeats of trials the connection or interaction between stimuli and response becomes strong.
There are two types of trail and error learning;
To find out correct place to get the goal after continous struggle is place learning. It is of two types positive adaptation, when correct situation is found to get the goal, negative adaptation, to give up the errors during the struggle.
In animals the place learning is helped by tools, learning e-g a captive cat in a cage when learns to lift the handle.
Learning by Insight
In learning, problem solving is a matter of great interest to everyone connected with education. In this kind of learning, some goal has to be reached but the way is not immediately clear. The individual often makes use of the following: the observation, reasoning, generalization and what the psychologists call “ insight”. This term requires some explanation and to understand it we must go to the Thorndike experiment. It will be remembered that Thorndike believed that the cat used purely “ trial and error” approach when attempting to get out of the box to eat fish. Kohler, however, in 1927, pointed out that Thorndike’s problem was so arranged that it was hardly possible to solve them without such activity.
In his own experiments, Kohler found that a chimpanzee, after looking at a problem for a while would suddenly solve it at a first attempt without making any false moves. This Kohler called insight. Thus a chimpanzee quickly learnt, after studying the situation, how to use a box as a stool from whish to reach up to the suspended banana; but the stacking of several boxes to reach a higher object proved much more difficult for many of the animals. Even if they reached the objects, the boxes were often stacked in such a manner that they were unstable. In other words, some has sufficient insight to solve the problem geographically but even so, they could not always solve it mechanically.
There are two types of insight;
Foresight means to see the result before time and hindsight means to get the benefit from the result after the action.
Learning by imitation
Imitation means to see a process and then repeat it in the same way. In imitation learning the ability is also needed like readiness and interest. For copying mental flexibility is needed. Monkeys have a developed form of imitation among the animals. According to some psychologists, it is done by trial and error or by wisdom. If some one is easily intimated then it is due to insight and if it is done with difficulty then it is due to trail and error. Children imitate their parents and teachers.
Learning by conditioned reflex
Every action has natural stimuli. Not only, the natural stimuli but the artificial stimulus is a also responsible for a response. When an action is related to artificial stimuli, it is called conditioning.
Russian scientist Ivon Pavlov made many experiments on his dogs in this respect. He found that saliva flowed from a dog’s mouth not only when food was placed in front of it, but also when the dog heard the approaching footsteps of the person brining food, or if it heard, a bell rung just before food was brought. Now the normal flow of saliva when food is in the mouth of dog is a reflex action and we may write:
Unconditioned stimuli unconditioned response
(Food in mouth) (Reflex action of saliva)
However, when the animal learns to associate the sound of a bell with food soon to be eaten, and commences to saliva before food is actually in the mouth, we may say that the complete sequence is:
Conditioned stimuli conditioned response
(Sound of bell or footsteps) (Advanced flow of saliva)
An American psychologist Watson applied this principle on human beings and the results are very useful. Watson observed that in initial stages, infants are naturally only afraid of losing their balance and from terrible noises. All the fears in the rest of their life are created because of our wrong training and indifference. He put a frog, fish, pigeon, rabbit and harmless snake near the nine month old child and observed that the child was not at all afraid of these, rather he was excited and starting play with them. After some days, he become familiar and very frank with them.
After some days, he installed a device near a child, which could produce terrible sound. Whenever the child started to play with these animals, a terrible sound was generated by this device. Since the child is already afraid of terrible sounds, he associated these sound with harmless animals and started fearing from these animals as well. This means that the child starts to fear the animals because of conditioned reflex.
Watson carried out further experiments and concluded that majority of the children develop these fears because of unpleasant experiences of their environment. Adults also learn similarly.