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Experiential Learning is more efficient than passive learning like reading or listening.
Experiential Learning is more efficient than passive learning like reading or listening.

Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals, plants [[CITE|undefined|]] and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow a learning curve. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by previous knowledge. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge. Learning produces changes in the organism and the changes produced are relatively permanent.

Human learning may occur as part of education, personal development, schooling, or training. It may be goal-oriented and may be aided by motivation. The study of how learning occurs is part of educational psychology, neuropsychology, learning theory, and pedagogy. Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals. [666666] [4] Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. Learning that an aversive event can't be avoided nor escaped is called learned helplessness. [[CITE|undefined|]] There is evidence for human behavioral learning prenatally, in which habituation has been observed as early as 32 weeks into gestation, indicating that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early on in development. [[CITE|undefined|]]

Play has been approached by several theorists as the first form of learning.


Non-associative learning refers to "a relatively permanent change in the strength of response to a single stimulus due to repeated exposure to that stimulus.

Non-associative learning can be divided into habituation and sensitization.

Habituation is an example of non-associative learning in which the strength or probability of a response diminishes when the response is repeated.

Sensitization is an example of non-associative learning in which the progressive amplification of a response follows repeated administrations of a stimulus (Bell et al., 1995). An everyday example of this mechanism is the repeated tonic stimulation of peripheral nerves that occurs if a person rubs their arm continuously. After a while, this stimulation creates a warm sensation that eventually turns painful. The pain results from the progressively amplified synaptic response of the peripheral nerves warning that the stimulation is harmful. Sensitisation is thought to underlie both adaptive as well as maladaptive learning processes in the organism.

Active learning occurs when a person takes control of their learning experience.

Associative learning is the process by which someone learns an association between two stimuli, or a behavior and a stimulus.

Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior.

Elemental theories of associative learning argue that concurrent stimuli tend to be perceived as separate units rather than 'holistically' (i.e. as a single unit) [[CITE|undefined|]]

Behaviorism is a psychological movement that seeks to alter behavior by arranging the environment to elicit successful changes and to arrange consequences to maintain or diminish a behavior.

Delayed discounting is the process of devaluing rewards based on the delay of time they are presented.

The typical paradigm for classical conditioning involves repeatedly pairing an unconditioned stimulus (which unfailingly evokes a reflexive response) with another previously neutral stimulus (which does not normally evoke the response).

Another influential person in the world of classical conditioning is John B. Watson. Watson's work was very influential and paved the way for B.F. Skinner's radical behaviorism. Watson's behaviorism (and philosophy of science) stood in direct contrast to Freud and other accounts based largely on introspection. Watson's view was that the introspective method was too subjective, and that we should limit the study of human development to directly observable behaviors. In 1913, Watson published the article "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views," in which he argued that laboratory studies should serve psychology best as a science. Watson's most famous, and controversial, experiment, "Little Albert", where he demonstrated how psychologists can account for the learning of emotion through classical conditioning principles.

Imprinting is a kind of learning occurring at a particular life stage that is rapid and apparently independent of the consequences of behavior.

Play generally describes behavior with no particular end in itself, but that improves performance in similar future situations.

Play, as it pertains to humans as a form of learning is central to a child’s learning and development.

There are five types of play:

These five types of play are often intersecting.

Enculturation is the process by which people learn values and behaviors that are appropriate or necessary in their surrounding culture.

Multiple examples of enculturation can be found cross-culturally.

Episodic learning is a change in behavior that occurs as a result of an event.

Multimedia learning is where a person uses both auditory and visual stimuli to learn information ().

Electronic learning or e-learning is a general term used to refer to computer-enhanced learning.

When a learner interacts with the e-learning environment, it's called augmented learning. By adapting to the needs of individuals, the context-driven instruction can be dynamically tailored to the learner's natural environment. Augmented digital content may include text, images, video, audio (music and voice). By personalizing instruction, augmented learning has been shown to improve learning performance for a lifetime. [[CITE|undefined|]] See also Minimally Invasive Education.

Moore (1989) [[CITE|undefined|]] purported that three core types of interaction are necessary for quality, effective online learning:

  • learner-learner (i.e. communication between and among peers with or without the teacher present),
  • learner-instructor (i.e. student teacher communication), and
  • learner-content (i.e. intellectually interacting with content that results in changes in learners’ understanding, perceptions, and cognitive structures).

In his theory of transactional distance, Moore (1993) contented that structure and interaction or dialogue bridge the gap in understanding and communication that is created by geographical distances (known as transactional distance).

Rote learning is memorizing information so that it can be recalled by the learner exactly the way it was read or heard. The major technique used for rote learning is learning by repetition, based on the idea that a learner can recall the material exactly (but not its meaning) if the information is repeatedly processed. Rote learning is used in diverse areas, from mathematics to music to religion. Although it has been criticized by some educators, rote learning is a necessary precursor to meaningful learning.

Meaningful learning is the concept that learned knowledge (e.g., a fact) is fully understood to the extent that it relates to other knowledge.

Informal learning occurs through the experience of day-to-day situations (for example, one would learn to look ahead while walking because of the danger inherent in not paying attention to where one is going).

Formal learning is learning that takes place within a teacher-student relationship, such as in a school system.

Nonformal learning is organized learning outside the formal learning system.

The educational system may use a combination of formal, informal, and nonformal learning methods.

To learn a skill, such as solving a Rubik's Cube quickly, several factors come into play at once:

  • Reading directions helps a player learn the patterns that solve the Rubik's Cube.
  • Practicing the moves repeatedly helps build "muscle memory" and speed.
  • Thinking critically about moves helps find shortcuts, which speeds future attempts.
  • Observing the Rubik's Cube's six colors help anchor solutions in the mind.
  • Revisiting the cube occasionally helps retain the skill.

Tangential learning is the process by which people self-educate if a topic is exposed to them in a context that they already enjoy.

Dialogic learning is a type of learning based on dialogue.

This learning is not planned by the instructor or the student, but occurs as a byproduct of another activity—an experience, observation, self-reflection, interaction, unique event, or common routine task.

Incidental learning is an occurrence that is not generally accounted for using the traditional methods of instructional objectives and outcomes assessment.


Benjamin Bloom has suggested three domains of learning:

  • Cognitive – To recall, calculate, discuss, analyze, problem solve, etc.
  • Psychomotor – To dance, swim, ski, dive, drive a car, ride a bike, etc.
  • Affective – To like something or someone, love, appreciate, fear, hate, worship, etc.

These domains are not mutually exclusive.


Transfer of learning is the application of skill, knowledge or understanding to resolve a novel problem or situation that happens when certain conditions are fulfilled.

Over the history of its discourse, various hypotheses and definitions have been advanced.

A significant and long research history has also attempted to explicate the conditions under which transfer of learning might occur.

Factors affecting learning

There are several internal factors that affect learning.

In animal evolution

Animals gain knowledge in two ways.

In a changing environment, an animal must constantly gain new information to survive.

Non-learning is more likely to evolve in two scenarios.

However, in environments where change occurs within an animal's lifetime but is not constant, learning is more likely to evolve.

Machine learning

Machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, concerns the construction and study of systems that can learn from data. For example, a machine learning system could be trained on email messages to learn to distinguish between spam and non-spam messages.

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