Learning- Meaning, Types & Components

Learning- Meaning, Types & Components

Meaning of Learning

Learning is a key process in human behaviour. All living is learning. If we compare the simple, crude ways in which a child feels and behaves, with the complex modes of adult behaviour, his skills, habits, thought, sentiments and the like- we will know what difference learning has made to the individual.

The individual is constantly interacting with and influenced by the environment. This experience makes him to change or modify his behaviour in order to deal effectively with it. Therefore, learning is a change in behaviour, influenced by previous behaviour. As stated above the skills, knowledge, habits, attitudes, interests and other personality characteristics are all the result of learning.

Learning is defined as “any relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a result of practice and experience”. This definition has three important elements.

  1. Learning is a change in behaviour-better or worse.
  2. It is a change that takes place through practice or experience, but changes due to growth or maturation are not learning.
  3. This change in behaviour must be relatively permanent, and it must last a fairly long time.

All learning involves activities. These activities involve cither physical or mental activities. They may be simple mental activities or complex, involving various muscles, bones, etc. So also the mental activities may be very simple involving one or two activities of mind or complex which involve higher mental activities. What activities are learned by the individual refer to types of learning. For example, habits, skills, facts, etc.

There are different types of learning. Some of the important and common learning activities are explained here.

Types of Learning

  1. Motor learning:

    Most of our activities in our day-to-days life refer to motor activities. The individual has to learn them in order to maintain his regular life, for example walking, running, skating, driving, climbing, etc. All these activities involve the muscular coordination.

  2. Verbal learning:

    This type of learning involves the language we speak, the communication devices we use. Signs, pictures, symbols, words, figures, sounds, etc., are the tools used in such activities. We use words for communication.

  3. Concept learning:

    It is the form of learning which requires higher order mental processes like thinking, reasoning, intelligence, etc. we learn different concepts from childhood. For example, when we see a dog and attach the term ‘dog’, we learn that the word dog refers to a particular animal. Concept learning involves two processes, viz. abstraction and generalisation. This learning is very useful in recognising, identifying things.

  4. Discrimination learning:

    Learning to differentiate between stimuli and showing an appropriate response to these stimuli is called discrimination learning. Example, sound horns of different vehicles like bus, car, ambulance, etc.

  5. Learning of principles :

    Individuals learn certain principles related to science, mathematics, grammar, etc. in order to manage their work effectively. These principles always show the relationship between two or more concepts. Example: formulae, laws, associations, correlations, etc.

  6. Problem solving:

    This is a higher order learning process. This learning requires the use of cognitive abilities-such as thinking, reasoning, observation, imagination, generalization, etc. This is very useful to overcome difficult problems encountered by the people.

  7. Attitude learning:

    Attitude is a predisposition which determines and directs our behaviour. We develop different attitudes from our childhood about the people, objects and everything we know. Our behaviour may be positive or negative depending upon our attitudes. Example: attitudes of nurse towards her profession, patients, etc.

Components of Learning

Components of learning are;

  1. Learning involves change. Change may good or bad from an organizational point of view. People can learn unfavorable behaviors to hold prejudices or to restrict their output.
  2. The changed must be ingrained. Temporary changes may be only reflexive and may not represent learning. Therefore the requirement that learning must be relatively permanent in nature.
  3. Some form of experience is necessary for learning. Experience may be acquired directly through observation or practice, or it may be acquired indirectly, as through reading.
  4. Learning involves concentration and participation. It usually is quicker and long-lasting when the learner participates actively. As a result of participation, people learn more quickly and retain that learning longer.
  5. Learning does not occur in a specific place like in a classroom. It is informal and it can be acquired anywhere, at any time. The
  6. There is no specific time for learning. A person can learn different things in his total lifetime.
  7. Learning is concerned with behavior. A change in an individual’s thought processes or attitudes, if not accompanied by a change in behavior, would not be learning.
  8. Learners benefited more from constructing deep explanations of the material than memorizing the facts. If there is no explanation in learning than the learning will be difficult for learners.
  9. There are multiple ways to learn things. But the learner should know which one is the best way of learning and select this one.
  10. It is related to frequent feedback which learners should get from instructors and peers throughout the learning process. Without it, even well-learned abilities will go away. Ewell emphasizes that the feedback will be most effective if it is delivered in an enjoyable setting that involves personal interactions and a considerable level of personal support.

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