Nature of Learning

Man is a learning creature, and learning process begins not only since his birth but also in the womb of his mother. In Mahabharata brave Abhimanyu obtained the knowledge, of breaking the ring shaped formation of troops, in the womb of his mother. This is the direct instance of learning. Learning is a life long process. Man learns throughout his whole life. In the beginning, infant is helpless and dependent on others, but slowly he tries to adjust himself according to the atmosphere. In this adjustment, he tries to take the advantages by the experiences of the process, which is called learning by the Psychologists. Learning is an important subject in the study of Educational Psychology. First the word ‘Know’ was used for learning.

Nature of Learning

Learning is an extensive word. Learning depends on the inborn responses. Being inspired by the inborn instinct, a man does whatever activities there are for the adjustment of his situation. According to the Psychologists- Learning is a mental process. A mental process is expressed by the behavior. A man is changed and refined on the basis of the experiences in his behavior. Two factors are included in the process of learning—maturity and ability to take the advantage from the earlier experiences. For example, if a burning stove is kept in front of a baby, he touches it because of his curiosity, as soon as he touches it, his hand burns; he draws away his hand rapidly. Then he does not go by the side of it any time, because he has learnt by his experience that fire will burn him. Thus, Learning is the progressive change in the behavior by the earlier experiences. On the basis of this, we can say that learning is an education. Learning and Education, the both indicate the same process. Both activities go on forever and every where in life. Child, growing towards the maturity, taking the advantage of his experiences, does whatever proper responses, that is called learning. As Blair Jones and Simpson have said- ‘’any change of behavior which is a result of experience and which causes people to face later situation differently may be called learning.’’ 

It is necessary to study the given definitions by the Psychologists to clear the meaning and nature of learning.

Definition of Learning

  1. According to Morgan and Gilliland—‘’Learning is the behavior of the organism as a result of experience which is retained for at least a certain period of time.’’
  2. Gates and Others—‘’Learning is the modification of behavior through experience and training.’’
  3. Woodbirth—“the process of acquiring new knowledge and new responses is the process of learning.’’
  4. Skinner—“Learning is process of progressive behavior adaption.’’
  5. Crown bank—“Learning is shown by a change in the behavior as a result of experience.’’
  6. Crow & Crow—“Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge and attitudes.’’
  7. Thorn dike—‘’Learning is selecting the appropriate responses and connecting it with the stimulus.’’
  8. Kuppuswami—‘’Learning is a process by which an organism, as a result of its interaction in a situation, acquires a new mode of behavior, which tends to persist and affect the general behavior pattern of the organism, to some degree.’’
  9. Parik—‘’Learning is the process of acquiring assimilating and internalizing cognitive, motor or behavior inputs for their effective and varied use when required and leading to enhanced capability of further self- mentioned learning.’’
  10. Gaine—‘’Learning is a change in human disposition or capability which can be retained and which is not simply ascribed to the process of growth. The kinds of change called learning exhibits itself as a change in behavior and in the interference of learning is made by comparing what behavior was possible before the individual was placed in a learning situation.’’ 
  11. Browne and Extend—‘’Learning is intimately related to the basis behavior characteristics of knowledge.’’

Psychologists have given many definitions of learning to make clear the conception of learning. For example, some definitions have been presented above. In fact the collection of the above definitions have been done on the basis of this, which could make clear the opinion of learning from the multi angle point of view. In spite of being completely independent, the above definitions are complementary to each other. The following things of learning factor are explained with the combination of many definitions:

  1. There is change in the behavior by the process of learning as having been burnt in the fire, an infant does not go close to fire.
  2. Whatever changes happen in the behavior, keep on till sometime, as he does not forget it soon that there is a lot of pain, after having a burn from the fire.
  3. The change in the behavior is based on the earlier experiences, if a child has burn from fire, then he works in such a fashion while working with fire that he does not get a burn again.
  4. The change that happens in the behavior could be externally visible, invisible or partially visible. 
  5. There are permanent changes in the behavior or doing work in the learning related way. The changes happening in the behavior in the form of doing work, cannot include those changes, which are originated from the main instincts, maturity, addiction, and tiredness. 
  6. Learning is the refinement of behavior. Once the changes take place in the behavior, that changed behavior can be improved in a new situation.
  7. The learner obtains growth again and again in cognitive, affective and conative fields by the learning, which helps him with the progressive change in his behavior.

Process of Learning

The process of learning has been cleared with the help of above definitions. The process of learning moves on throughout the life consciously or unconsciously. Developing by individual learning process. Its basis is maturity. Inspiration is necessary in the process of learning.

According to Guthrie—“Ability to learn is to respond differently to situation because of the past experiences to a situation.”

According to the Peel—‘’Learning is a change, in a person which, happens according to the changes in his environment.’’ Peel has explained the process of learning in brief:
  1. By learning, permanent and temporary, both types of changes come in a person.
  2. Learning is different from the easy, natural activities of person as blinking the eye and to draw the hand etc.
  3. Learning is possible by the social and biological adjustments or conscious purposes.
  4. Learning can originate both types of behaviors as social, unsocial in a person.
  5. Education can be faultless and faulty.
Psychologist Boaz has said—‘’Learning is the process which the individual acquires various habits, knowledge and attitudes that are necessary to meet he demand of life in general.’’

According to Woodbirth—‘’Learning consists in doing something new provide the new activity is reinforced and reappears in latter activities.’’

This definition is revealed by doing Skinner’s experiment on the mice.

Features of Learning Process

In the definitions of learning, Psychologists have given a specific type of nature to the process of learning. If the specific process of learning is analyzed, the following characteristics of learning process are highlighted:

  1. Learning is universal—Learning is such a process, which happens in the living beings in all the times and all the places. Wherever there is a being, place and time, the process of learning will take place. Human being keeps on engaging in doing something every time.
  2. Learning is change—The change that happens in the behavior of child is learning. Learning is that process, by which the change will appear in the child. By the learning, the sequence of changes and re-changes move on, by which child becomes the outcome of the changes.
  3. Learning is development—The development of child is possible by the process of learning. The contribution of learning in the whole development of child is so much important, that learning becomes the synonym of development. The Psychologists have considered that the personality of child is developed in form of progressive changes and refinement, which is possible by the process of learning. Learning is seen in the form of development.
  4. Learning is adjustment—Child establishes adjustment with the society and the environment by the learning process. The process of adjustment is so close to the process of learning that we understand adjustment as learning. In fact Human being has to adjust with the environment to survive. So he has to do the process of learning for his survival. Gates and others have accepted learning as an adjustment.
  5. Learning is Purposesive—It is necessary to have some purpose for learning. The goal of learning could be attained by purpose only. Purposiveness decides the aim of learning, and provides the direction to the responses. 
  6. Learning is continuous—Learning is neither limited to any age, or any period. Rather, it continues throughout the life.
  7. Learning is creative—It is the tendency of human nature, to do some creative work. Thus, doing such work is learning, which he manifests in the form of thoughts and actions. Creativity encourages man, by initiative towards learning.
  8. Learning is response to total situation—A person establishes adjustment with different kinds of situations after examining them on the basis of completeness. He continues to learn to do the right responses for the adjustment to the situation. So learning is a delivery of right responses to total situation of a person.
  9. Learning is a relationship between stimuli and responses—To establish the right and desirable responses with any stimuli is learning. On the basis of this fact, Psychologists have delivered the word ‘relational’ in the study of learning.
  10. Learning is related with cognitive, affective and conative domains—whatever a man learns, its field is cognitive, affective and co-native. And learning is related with cognitive, affective and co-native fields, he collects knowledge, feelings and collects skill to do activities.
  11. Learning is Transferable—A person can use the same skills and solutions of the problem in the other similar problems, which he has learnt in any situation. Means, learning transfers. Thus, learning is transferable.
  12. Learning is a process—From the psychological point of view learning is a process, which moves on in a living environment. This process is seen, in the fulfillment of the need, under the condition of stimuli- responses, in obtaining the goal, in obtaining the success in the adjustment, and in the stabilization of behavior and practical change. It is cleared that there are four important parts in the process of learning. It can be understood by the following diagram:
It is evident from the above diagram, that, being motivated by a purpose, a person begins the process of learning. In case of not being purpose motivator the process of learning does not begin. In the process of learning, firstly a person does various efforts to get his goal. In which some efforts are success and some are failure. Failure efforts do not penetrate the obstacles in obtaining the goal. Successful efforts, piercing the obstacles, help in obtaining the goal. There are four phases of learning process:

  • Need or Purpose—In the process of learning, first the need for purpose or motive originates. Need is that bodily power, which makes power active for its fulfillment.
  • Goal—Need is goal aspiring, which makes a person act till acquiring the goal. The process of learning is not effective in the absence of goal perception.
  • Adjustment—A person establishes adjustment with the situation to get the goal. He tries many times to pierce the obstacle. In which the efforts that help in getting the goal after piercing the obstacle, is called successful efforts and rest are failures.
  • Change—By the process of learning, change comes in the behavior of a person that differs from the former behavior or that was not present in the behavior of the person earlier. Being permanent, this change becomes a part of a person’s acquired behavior. Though, it is possible to make change in this as well. This is called the process of reinforcement. 

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