Learning refers to obtaining new knowledge, skills, preferences, behaviors, and understanding by humans, human-made machines, and animals. The changes resulting from learning often last for a lifetime period, and it remains challenging to differentiate learned items that appear ‘lost’ from the irretrievable ones. Various theories also explain the concept of acquiring and retaining knowledge. The paper aims to discuss learning, some of the ideas associated with the notion, and some strategies for storing new information through the process.
Learning involves both mental and physical activities that may be simple or complex. According to Shi et al. (2018), in psychology, the process denotes an adaptive function where the human nervous system transforms following the surrounding stimuli, hence altering the behavioral reaction. The procedure occurs initially in the nervous system as a response to environmental influence. However, as Fernando and Marikar (2017) perceive, both reflex and instinct occur naturally and do not require studying. Therefore, learning is associated with the change in human actions or knowledge resulting from happenings.
Theories on Learning
The psychology of learning centers on various concepts and theories of how people understand and interrelate with their surroundings. The schools of thought associated with the process describe how learners receive, understand, and retain mastery as it progresses (Clark, 2018). Various factors play a significant role in understanding, and they include emotional, environmental, and cognitive influences by students. Besides, the research focuses on two significant learning theories, including behaviorism and constructivism.
Behaviorism Theory of Learning
Proponents of the theory postulate that new behaviors or character changes emanate from associations between responses and stimuli. It originates from the work of B.F Skinner and the notion of operant conditioning. Knowledge exists as an independent concept outside the human mind, and as Clark (2018) asserts, proponents perceive that learners compare to a blank slate require experience and exposure. Besides, learning happens upon acquiring new deportments through the relationship between stimuli and reaction. Consequently, the advocates for the hypothesis agree that association results from the alteration of conduct.
Behaviorism idea is also fundamental in classrooms, especially in identifying the association between specific activities by students and immediate consequences. The theory offers less importance in understanding the thinking changes among learners, hence, advocates for more cognitive schools of thought (Clark, 2018). However, the latter clarifies its specific usefulness, highlighting observable relations among actions and repercussions, but not a form of criticism of the hypothesis.
The learning process bases mainly on noticeable changes in behavior. The process commences when a cue from the surroundings presents and learners react to the stimulant. As Shi et al. (2018) perceive, consequences reinforcing the desired bearing arrange to follow the preferred behavior. For example, studying for a test and getting a high score, adding that new pattern in deportment repeats to automate. Behavioral modifications of people signify the learning process’s occurrence; hence, teachers use behaviorist perception to reward or punish students’ behaviors. It provides insight into comprehending and influencing what learners do.
Constructivism theory remains fundamental in how people (learners) think and how to enrich what they think. In the learning context, constructivism focuses on how students actively develop or ‘construct’ cognition from experience. According to Fernando and Marikar (2017), two concepts emerge from the idea; psychological and social constructivism, stating that both center on individuals’ reasoning rather than their behavior, but with distinct teaching implications. Consequently, proponents of constructivism’s perspective on learning peg the entire idea on individualism and collective or assisted performance to realize understanding.
The principal notion of psychological constructivism states that a person learns through mental organization and reorganization of new ideas or experiences. As Shi et al. (2018) elaborate, the coordination happens partially by relating emerging incidents before meaningful knowledge is already accumulated or understood. The proponents of the idea deduce that if students learn by boosting their cognition, tutors’ need to adjust the curriculum becomes necessary to fit learners’ prior understanding and interests. Besides, syllabus justification remains possible only if it relates wholly to activities and influence students possess even after completing their studies.
Social constructivism expounds on interactions and relations between experts or more experienced individuals and learners. The father of the notion, Jerome Bruner, stated that students possess the ability to learn more than already initially expected as long as they receive resources and proper guidance (Fernando & Marikar, 2017). The current literature describes Bruner’s perception as instructional scaffolding, denoting a non-permanent framework similar to ones used in building construction that enables a potent structure to be erected within it.
Strategies Used in Learning and Retaining New Information
Advanced skills and understanding remain fundamental in evaluating learners and adjusting schemes and strategies. A firm knowledge of each cognitive element of the learning process and how they look like progress also forms an integral part of mastery. According to Shi et al. (2018), people learn by conditioning, whereby learners adapt and adjust to an emerging stimulus. The process involves substituting the traditional understanding with a new one and associating the response with it.
Learning proceeds by an attempt of methods associated with the solution to existing or emerging complications. As Clark (2018) states, the trial is possible by comprehending or viewing the instance, often referred to as learning by insight. Insightful understanding denotes mastery through the perception of the relationship in the scene and grasping the situation. Intuition occurs when people see in a flash the answers to their concerns or problems classified as an intelligent apprehension method. People solve difficulties better with experience, as they execute the discrimination capability, and learning happens through awareness instead of trial and error.
Learning by imitation is the simplest method of understanding as many daily activities involve emulating others. People observe and witness what and how others perform specific actions and imitate them, such as drinking, walking, and dressing. Humans also copy the illustrations given by tutors or experts and practice some of the things learned from their experiences (Shi et al., 2018). Many perceive that emulation is a lower model of comprehension, while others hold that it results in non-novel retort without using individual originality.
Learning implies a permanent alteration in conduct due to experience gained during the process. The research elaborates on two schools of thought associated with the process, including behaviorism and constructivism. Advocates of the former believe that cognition or knowledge exists independently, not in people, and refers to learners as blank slates. On the other hand, constructivists hold that humans construct perceptions of the world concerning our internal understanding and experiences. Various learning methods and strategies for retaining new information have also been highlighted, including intuition, imitation, and conditioning.
Clark, K. R. (2018). Learning theories: Behaviorism. Radiologic Technology, 90(2), 172–175.
Fernando, S. YJN., & Marikar, F. MMT. (2017). Constructivist teaching/learning theory and participatory teaching methods. Journal of Curriculum and Teaching, 6(1), 110–122. Web.
Shi, Y., Mi, Y., Li, J., & Liu, W. (2018). Concept-cognitive learning model for incremental concept learning. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems, 51(2), 809–821. Web.