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Models of Learning
See T. Tighe, Modern Learning Theory (1982); B. Schwartz, Psychology of Learning and Behavior (2d ed. 1983).
the acquisition of knowledge, abilities, and habits. In contrast to the pedagogical concepts of training, education, and upbringing, the term “learning” is used primarily in the psychology of behavior and embraces a broad range of the processes that make up individual experience. Among the phenomena classified as learning are habituation, imprinting, the development of the simplest conditioned reflexes and complex motor and speech skills, reactions in sensory discrimination, and intelligent learning (in humans).
Like “instinctive behavior,” “learning” is a fundamental concept of ethology that refers to the adaptation of an animal to its environment by changes in its innate behavior. There are two basic forms of learning: obligatory learning (mainly imprinting), which is characteristic of all individuals of a given species; and facultative learning (chiefly habit, and, to some degree, imitation), which is characteristic of the behavior of some individuals and depends on the specific conditions of their lives.
An enormous number of experiments, many of them conducted on animals in the USA within the framework of behaviorism, have been devoted to the processes of learning. Attention has been focused on elucidating the influence of various factors on learning, including the number and distribution of repetitions, reinforcement (the law of effect), the type of conditioning of responses, and dependency on the state of need. More complex are the problems of the transfer of the results of learning to conditions that differ from those in the original learning situation, latent learning, and the formation of sensorimotor structures and sensory syntheses that function as the internal variables of behavior, or its psychological links.
Most research on learning, which is usually defined as adaptation to the conditions created in the experiment, has concentrated on the simplest, “passive” forms of acquiring habits, including sensory and mental ones. Therefore, the results of this research cannot be extended to forms of learning that are specific to humans. The historical experience of mankind is transmitted to certain persons by means of education, one of society’s most important functions, which is entrusted specifically to schools and other pedagogical institutions.
REFERENCESEksperimental’naia psikhologiia, issue 4. Edited by P. Fraisse and J. Piaget. Moscow, 1973.
Thorndike, E. L. The Psychology of Learning. New York, 1921.
Hilgard, E. R. , and D. G. Marquis. Conditioning and Learning. New York-London, 1940.
Skinner, B. F. Verbal Behavior. New York, 1957.
Thorpe, W. H. Learning and Instinct in Animals. London, 1963.
A. N. LEONT’EV