Notebook, 1993-

MODES - Learning - Cognition and Creativity

Conditioning & Learning [cont.]

CHAPTER Eight [From Coon, Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application.]
Learning creates mental expectancies about events. Information processing (rather than a 'stamping in' of responses) and expectation affect learning. Once acquired, these expectancies alter behavior. If expectations change, behavior will too. And, the adaptive value of information helps explain why much human learning occurs without obvious reinforcement by food, water, and the like. Humans readily learn responses that merely have a desired effect or that bring a goal closer. In computer use, in the playing of a musical instrument, in cooking, solving math problems -- the reinforcement comes from knowing that you succeeded at getting a desired result. [A machine's responsiveness and the information flow it provides can be very motivating if the player's goal is to win or to master the game.] A responsive environment and Information are two key elements that underlie learning.

Learning. Some learning can be thought of as just a connection between stimuli and response. But, even basic conditioning has "mental" elements. As a human, you can anticipate future reward or punishment and react accordingly. Human learning includes a large cognitive, or mental, dimension. We are greatly affected by information, expectations, perceptions, mental images, and the like.

Types of Learning:
1. Cognitive learning - Understanding, knowing, anticipating, or otherwise making use of higher mental processes. It extends beyond basic conditioning into the realms of memory, thinking, problem solving, and language. An overall mental picture, a cognitive map or internal representation of relationships, acts as a guide even when you must detour or take a new route. Animals are capable of cognitive learning. (It is helpful to draw pictures of how you envision concepts fitting together.)

2. Latent Learning - It occurs without obvious reinforcement and remains hidden until reinforcement is provided. Knowledge was there but didnÍt know it until someone brought it to the surface. Satisfying curiosity can be enough to reward learning. Latent learning in humans is probably related to high-level abilities, such as anticipating future reward.

3. Discovery Learning - Skills are gained by insight and understanding instead of by rote (repetition and memorization). Humans can learn independently. Many discoveries come about as a result of curiosity. Learning is more lasting when people discover facts and principles on their own. Discovery learning tends to produce better understanding of new problems and situations. In sum, it seems worthwile to take extra steps to foster insight and deeper understanding, even if learning by discovery takes longer.

4. Observational Learning [also called modeling or simply imitation] - It is achieved by watching and imitating actions of another person (model--someone who serves as an example) or by noting the consequences of those actions. Anything that can be learned from direct experience can be learned by observation. Allows a person to skip the trial- and-error stage of learning. By observing a model , a person may:

[TV observation can cause loss of sensitivity to human predictament--disinhibit, or lower inhibitions against hostile feelings, as well as serve as a model for positive and negative behaviors.]

Two-factor learning - Classical and operative learning interact.

Feedback [knowledge of results - KR] It is information about what effect a response had. It improves performance. Essential to learning. Most effective when immediate, frequent and detailed. It provides an opportunity to adjust mistakes, make improvements on performance--to sing, speak a second language, deliver a speech, sports. [Note: Replays are most helpful when a skilled coach directs atention to key details] Feedback combined with operant learning in interesting ways:

Programmed instruction - Breaks down learning into series of small steps and gives immediate feedback. The purpose of frequency is to keep learner from practicing errors. Student doesnÍt move on until mastering initial phase. Teaches in a format that requires precise answers about information as it is presented. Another advantage is it allows students to work at their own pace.

Computer-assisted instruction [CAI] - Provides alternative exercises to understand a concept. Closely related to practice for exam--constantly drilling and taking tests simulating the real thing. Students work at individual computer terminals. Computer displays lessons on screen, and students type answers. Newest CAI programs, which use artificial intelligence programs, can even give hints about why an answer was wrong and what is needed to correct it. Rapid feedback and individualized pacing. Can accelerate learning for business, military, learning various college subjects. Doesn't improve skill or level. Does save time and effort. Self-paced drill and practice format is simplist, instantly providing correct answers and KR (knowledge of results--how fast you worked, your percentage correct, how work compared with previous scores, etc) Instructional games and educational simulations increase interest and motivation with use of stories, competition with a partner, sound effects, and gamelike graphics. Students can discover basic principles of physics, biology, psychology by seeing the effects of their choices in an imaginary situation or 'microworld.'

Spaced practice - Learning that increases with practice [4-5 minute intervals] and is most effective when short practice sessions are alternated with rest periods. Keeps fatigue and boredom to a minimum. It can also prevent the learner from practicing errors when tired. (Perfect practice makes perfect.)

Massed practice - Little or no rest is given between learning sessions of massed practice lowers performance during training. In the long run, skills learned with spaced practice are retained better than those learned by massed practice.

Positive transfer - Mastery of one task aids mastery of a second task (skis get longer, ride bike before ride motorcycle).

Negative transfer - Skills developed in one situation conflict with those required to master a new task . Most likely to occur when a new response must be made to an old stimulus. (A trailer attached to car forces steering to be turned opposite from direction you want trailer to go)

Motor skill - A series of actions molded into a smooth and efficient performance. Typing, walking, pole-vaulting, shooting baskets, playing golf, driving a car, writing, and skiing are examples. Begin as simple response chains. As skills improve, we typically develop motor programs for them. Motor skills are actually very mental.

Motor Programs - Mental plans or models of what a skilled movement should be like. (Musical skills in the head, not in the fingers)

Mental practice - Merely thinking about or imagining a skilled performance can aid learning. Seems to help by refining motor programs. The more familiar you are with a skill, the more mental rehearsal helps.

Biofeedback - Applying the principle of feedback to bodily control. It promotes learning by converting bodily processes into a clear signal that provides information about correct responses. It holds promise as a way to treat psychosomatic problems (illnesses caused mainly by stress or emotional factors), psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, phobias, drug abuse, etc. Has proved helpful but not an instant cure. It can definately relieve muscle-tension headaches and migraine headaches. It shows promise of lowering blood pressure and alleviating irregular heart rhythms. The technique has even been used wtih some sucess to cnrol epileptic seizures. How? Benefits arise from general relaxation. Perhaps just acts as a "mirror" to help a person perform tasks involving self-regulation. But, doesn't do anything by itself. It can help people make desired changes in their behavior. Has special promise for the rehabilitation of people suffering from nerve damage, muscular disorders, and stroke.

Negative reinforcement. Response is followed with an end to discomfort or with the removal of a negative state of affairs. Occurs when a response ends or removes an unpleasant event: Your aspirin taking will be negatively reinforced if headache stops. Like positive reinforcement, it increases responding--but, by ending discomfort. Rat presses bar until it turns off the shock, etc. Bar pressing increases because it leads to a desired state of affairs--food or end to pain.

Positive reinforcement. Response is followed by a reward or other positive event. A pleasant or desired event follows a response. Positive and negative reinforcement often combine--relieving hunger with good tasting food (positive reinforcement) and end of nagging hunger (negative reinforcement).

Punishment. Response is followed with pain or an otherwise negative event, such as the removal of a positive reinforcer (response cost). It is any event that follows a response and decreases its likelihood of occurring again. For better or worse, it is one of the most popular ways to control behavior. Spanking, reprimands, loss of privileges such as "grounding," fines, jail sentences, and firings, failing grades, etc. Dangerous situations reguire decisive action. More effective than counsel or coaxing, especially if its a life or death situation! And, it should be clear that it is the behavior and not the person that is punished. And, a child should know the rules and the consequences before punishment inforced. Also, punishment should never be enforced while one is angry. The anger is never fair. To rely upon punishment alone for training or discipline is most common error. Frequent punisment makes a person or an animal unhappy, confused, anxious, aggressive, and fearful of the source of punishment.

Response cost - a reinforcer or positive state of affairs is removed.

Variables affecting punishment:

Requirements for Effective punishment:

Ways of eliminating undersirable behavior [3 basic tools to control simple learning]:

[These tools work best in combination. If you choose to use pnishment, it is best to also reward an alternate, desirable response. If reinforcement is missing from the formula, punishment becomes less effective. From an informational view, punishment tells a person or an animal that a response was "wrong" without saying what the "right" response is, so punishment does not teach new behaviors.]

Negative Aspects of Punishment [side effects]:

[Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Springfield, MA, USA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1995.]



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