Notebook, 1993-

MODES - Cognition and Creativity - Conditioning and Learning


[From Coon, Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application.] - Any relatively permanent change in behavior due to reinforcement--that can be attributed to experience. Note that this excludes temporary changes caused by motivation, fatigue, maturation, disease, injury, or drugs. Each of these can alter behavior, but none qualifies as learning . . . .

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.

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.)

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.'

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.

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:

l. Learn new responses

2. Learn to carry out or avoid previously learned responses (depending on what happens to the model for doing the same thing)

3. Learn a general rule that can be applied to various situations.

Albert Bandura, a behavioral psychologist, proposed 4 ways in which Observational Learning takes place:

l. Have to pay attention to learn something - attention.

2. Must retain what you observe - retention.

3. Must reproduce it--if you have the ability to do so --those who do are apt to practice the behavior observed-- Motor reproduction.

4. Reinforcement determines motivation--if it will be repeated thereafter.

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 doesn't 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.

[Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989. Chapter: Learning & Cognition]



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