Many psychologists have had debates with the concept of learning. Nature versus nurture is two concepts that many psychologists have argued over. Learning is a cause of someone’s change in behavior through experience, practice, and skills. In this paper, the subjects to describe is, the concept of learning, distinguishing between learning and performance, and finally compare and contrasting the conceptual approaches to the study of learning. Concept of Learning Learning has many definitions. Learning is the process of knowledge through education, observation, teaching, and past and present experiences for individuals (humans or animals).
According to Terry (2009), “learning is the acquisition of knowledge and may be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior, or behavioral repertoire that occurs as a result of experience” (p. 5). According to Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (1999), “Learning is complex, transformational, natural, and life-long, multi-level, fundamentally personal, yet also social, active and interactive, measurable, and greatly influenced by organizational factors, including structures” (p. 3). As mentioned before, nature versus nurture has been a big debate.
The nature theory is that humans’ behavior is biologically encoded in human DNA. Psychologists believe that humans are preprogrammed from birth. The nurture theory believes that human behavior learned thru life experiences. Humans learn behavior from what they do, read, and observe. I believe that both influence humans’ behavior. Humans learn behavior from life experiences, and through educating themselves. Learning is an ongoing process that humans endure. Learning is based on different knowledge that humans have acquired over the years.
Learning happens when a person develops new abilities, values, preferences, and skills. There are two important aspects of behavioral learning theory that been used. They are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs between environmental stimuli and is a natural stimulus. Operant conditioning is an association between a behavior and a consequence. Distinguishing Between Learning and Performance Learning usually increases with days of practice.
With practice, he or she needs a reinforcement (positive or negative) to remember the training or practice. Sometimes if a reward is too much, or not enough, it can affect the learning. When someone is learning something new, the reinforcement should be during or right after the practice or training. A delay in reward can affect the learning process. At the beginning of a new training, reinforcement has been learning during and then gradually making the reinforcements further apart. Some influences affect performance but not learning. Motivation affects the way people perform.
For example, watching a softball game, the girls are more motivated when they are winning. If someone takes the same test after test after test, he or she can become bored. Being bored can decrease a person’s performance. Compare and Contrast the Conceptual Approaches to the Study of Learning There are four different conceptual approaches to the study of learning. They are functional approach, behavioral approach, cognitive approach, and neuroscience approach. According to Terry (2009), “The functional approach studies how learning and remembering aid survival” (p. 19).
According to Terry, “The behavioral approach emphasizes the relationship among, first, observable behaviors, second, the antecedent stimuli that precede behavior, and third, the consequences that follow behavior” (p. 20). According to Terry, “The cognitive approach derives from computer-influenced, information-processing approaches to the mind” (p. 20). According to Terry, “The neuroscience approach has existed in parallel with both the earlier behavioral and the newer cognitive perspectives” (p. 21). Each approach is very important for psychologist to learn and understand.
Each approach has its own unique way at looking at behavior. When comparing functional approach to behavioral approach there are somewhat differences. Functional approach is that an animal or human adapts to their environment. In functional approach psychologist can study learning across different species around the world. In behavioral approach psychologist, observe humans or animals in a situation that has stimuli to change behavior. When comparing cognitive approach to neuroscience approach there are some items that are similar.
Cognitive approach is looking at how humans processes information, knowledge, encode, store, and retrieve what humans have learned. In neuroscience approach psychologist, study the brain to see how humans retrieve information in the brain. Each approach looks at behavior and leaning differently but is measuring the same thing. Conclusion Humans or animals never stop learning. Psychologists observe human behavior, so that psychologist can understand how humans and animals interact with one another. Learning will always be looked at differently from different psychologist. There will never be a true answer to how or why humans learn.