Chapter 5 Learning Principles

Learning brings about modifications in the behaviour of an individual. Learning is a comprehensive term that leaves a permanent effect on an individual. In other words, we can say that learning is an innate tendency of humans. After a few months of birth, a child starts to imitate the activities of the persons with whom it comes into contact, and this is considered to be the starting of learning in that child’s life. In psychology, this term is used in two forms, i.e., learning as a process and learning as a product. Learning as a process by which an individual receives new facts and learns how to perform new activities. On the other hand, learning as a product refers to the behavioural change in an individual that is caused by the knowledge of new facts and training of new activities. According to Crow & Crow, learning is the acquisition of knowledge and an attitude. According to J. P. Guilford, learning is any change in behaviour resulting from behaviour. According to Woodworth, the process of acquiring new knowledge and new response is the process of learning.

Nature Of Learning

The nature of learning can be described on the basis of the following points:
• Learning is a goal-directed activity.
• Learning is the acquisition of a new behaviour.
• Learning is relatively permanent within an individual.
• Learning is the perceptual recognition of a situation.
• Learning is the change in behaviour as a result of experience.
• Learning is universal in nature and an individual is rational and he/she learns the most.

Characteristics Of Learning Principles

The main characteristics of learning principles are as follows:
• Learning principles help to motivate the learners.
• Learning principles are the cause of progressive change in one’s behaviour.
• Learning principles provide the help to adjust within in a different environment.
• Learning principles help a teacher to choose the appropriate teaching strategy for teaching the learning process.
• Learning is a process as well as product, but learning principles are only process which help an individual modify his/her behaviour.

Theories Of Learning Principles

Some of the most important theories of learning principles provided by major psychologists are as follows:
• Theory of operant conditioning of learning propounded by B.F. Skinner Educational implications of this theory of learning are as follows:
– Try to ignore or do not strengthen the bad behaviour of students.
– Desired behaviour of students should be immediately and properly reinforced by the teacher or parents.
– This theory is very useful for developing programmed instructional material and systematic approach to teaching machines/aids.
• Theory of classical conditioning of learning propounded by Ivan P. Pavlov Educational implications of this learning theory are as follows:
– It emphasises the principle of association.
– Language can be learnt with the help of conditioning.
– Theory of rewards and punishments is also based on conditioning.
– Positive attitudes, values, beliefs, sentiments and habits can be formed and developed with the help of conditioning; while, negative attitudes, values, beliefs, sentiments and habits can be broken.
– With the help of this theory, the child is able to learn many things in his/her early stage.
– This theory is also very useful for adjustment with the environment.
• Theory of Trial-Error propounded by Thorndike The other names of this theory are Stimulus-Response (S-R) Theory, PleasurePain Theory and Bond Theory of Learning. Educational implications of this learning theory are as follows:
– Habit formation depends on the trial and error method.
– More and more practice and repetitions are required for effective learning.
– Various skills like sitting, standing, walking, running and cycling are also learnt through the trial and error method.
– This theory lays emphasis on experimental verification. Therefore, the teacher should make use of experiments to aid the learning process and should promote learning by doing.
– This theory works by grading a task from simple to complex. So, the teacher’s teaching should proceed from simple to complex or known to unknown.
– Motivation is extremely important for learning. So, students must be motivated to learn before they do so. Thorndike emphasised the importance of motivation in learning. This was something that was neglected till then.
• The insight theory of learning propounded by Gestalt psychologists Educational implications of this learning theory are as follows:
– It lays emphasis on the importance of motivation in the teaching-learning process.
– It is particularly useful for difficult subjects like science and mathematics.
– Parents and teachers should see the child as a whole and within the total setting.
– It helps in the development of imagination, reasoning and thinking powers.
– It lays emphasis on sight rather than rote learning. Thus, it discourages spoon feeding and cramming.

Factors Affecting The Learning Process

These are the main factors that affect the learning process:
• Student-related Factors
– Age and maturity of students
– Physical and mental health of students
– Level of motivation provided to students
– Intelligence, aptitude, attitude, interest and attention of students
• Teacher-related Factors
– Personality of teacher
– Teaching principles of teacher
– Knowledge and skills of teacher
– Behaviour of teacher towards students
• Curriculum-related Factors
– Nature of subject matter
– Organisation of subject matter
– Difficulty level of subject matter
– Relation of subject matter to life
• Factors Related to Teaching Methods
– Practice and application
– Suitability of teaching method
– Use of co-curricular activities
– Use of teaching aids and technology
• Environment-related Factors
– Social environment
– Natural environment
– Time of teaching and learning
– Fatigue of students due to school timetable

Various Forms Of Learning

These are the various forms of learning:
• Conceptual learning: This learning implies that an individual starts thinking in abstract terms. The individual understands about an object without its concrete form. These abstract concepts gradually multiply and become a part of mental makeup.
• Appreciative learning: At this level, ideals, attitudes and mental dispositions, which are related to the feeling part of mind, come into play. A child starts attaching some worthwhile values to the knowledge that he/she has acquired.
• Perceptual learning: This form of learning involves what an individual perceives through his/her senses about various objects of the world. The individual tries to distinguish between them. The individual starts attaching a meaning to them on the basis of his/her past experiences. The individual’s learning is confined to the presentation of the concrete object.
• Associative learning: A child has some mental pictures of his/her previous observations. The child tries to link up his/her new associations with the previous mental pictures. The child uses his/her memory and recalls the previous observations. Thus, the child comes to accept newly framed mental pictures.

Approaches Of Presenting Concepts

Teaching is often referred to as an art. There are specific teaching methods that instruct a teacher about the art of ‘How to Teach,’ i.e., how to convey the knowledge of environmental studies or any other subject matter among students in a simple and convenient manner. While teaching in a class, the main objective of a teacher is to make his/her teaching effective and permanent for students. To achieve the real objectives of teaching, it is imperative for a teacher to present a topic in an appropriate manner before students. In other words, we can say that a teacher should use an appropriate teaching methodology during class teaching for a powerful and effective presentation of the subject matter or the related content. The commonly used teaching methodologies can be classified into three types:
• Telling methods: These include lecture, questioning and discussion methods of teaching.
• Showing methods: These include demonstration and excursion methods of teaching.
• Doing methods: These include projects, role play and practical work.

Types Of Methods Or Approaches To Present A Concept

In EVS, there are different types of methods or approaches to present a concept before students. Some important types are as follows:
• Conceptual approach: When a percept is memorised after some time without using any external resources, in such cases, the memories and images are already formed in the human brain. These percepts in the form of images and memories develop into greater abstractions called concepts. According to this
approach, a concept is generally organised as a result of many related sensations, images and percepts with verbal symbols incorporated. In this approach, an individual learns or understands through sensorimotor experiences.
• Process approach: In this approach, a child adopts his/her own method. Process approach envisages certain skills considered important in EVS teaching. Some processes that are incorporated into each activity are as follows— observing, formulating hypothesis, experimenting, classifying, measuring, etc. All these skills are useful as well as helpful to a student for a better understanding a concept or subject matter.
• Integrated approach: Integrated approach is the combination of both of the above-described approaches. At the primary level, teaching with the help of integrated approach is considered a good approach to present a concept because conceptual approach follows Child-Centered Approach (CCA) and process approach follows Teacher-Centered Approach (TCA).
• Activity approach: Sometimes, a teacher wants to convey a concept but students are unable to understand that concept properly. This is because students are generally conditioned to accepting and memorising what a teacher tells them, without any questioning and understanding. In such cases, a teacher can take help from the activity approach to present a concept. In this approach, a concept is presented in the form of an activity in which students can also participate. This is the best method or approach for concept presentation because it involves all the three domains of student learning, i.e., cognitive, affective and psychomotor domain.

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