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Learning theories Essay

Primary research consists of the collection of original primary data. It is often undertaken after the researcher has gained some insight into the issue by reviewing secondary research or by analyzing previously collected primary data. It can be accomplished through various methods, including questionnaires and telephone interviews in market research, or experiments and direct observations in the physical sciences, amongst others. Secondary Research:

Secondary research (also known as desk research) involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research rather than primary research, where data is collected from, for example, research subjects or experiments. The term is widely used in medical research and in market research. The principal methodology in medical secondary research is the systematic review, commonly using meta-analytic statistical techniques, although other methods of synthesis, like realist reviews and meta-narrative[2] reviews, have been developed in recent years.

Such secondary research uses the primary research of others typically in the form of research publications and reports. In a market research context, secondary research is taken to include the re-use by a second party of any data collected by a first party or parties. In archaeology and landscape history, desk research is contrasted with fieldwork. Primary Research Vs Secondary Research One of the major differences between the two is that primary research is conducted with the help of primary sources available where as secondary research is conducted on the basis of some data collected from someone who had got it from the sources.

Primary research is expensive to conduct since it involves primary sources. But secondary research is not much expensive as primary. Another major difference between the two is that primary research is much more time consuming as compared to secondary research. As a matter of fact the results found by the primary research are usually to have better quality than those from the conduct of the secondary research. Primary research is also usually detailed and elaborated since it is supposed to be both qualitative as well as quantitative.

On the other hand data pertaining to secondary research is usually not much detailed and elaborated since it involves indirect uses. Primary research is done with a lot of hard work and dedication. On the hand secondary research is usually presented with a number of data and records. These are usually taken from books, periodicals published by governmental organizations, statistical data, annual reports and case study ORGANIZATION BEHAVIOUR.

Organizational behavior is a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups and structures have on behavior within an organization for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving an organization’s effectiveness. It is an interdisciplinary field that includes sociology, psychology, communication, and management; and it complements the academic studies of organizational theory (which is focused on organizational and intra-organizational topics) and human resource studies (which is more applied and business-oriented).

It may also be referred to as organizational studies or organizational science. The field has its roots in industrial and organizational psychology. 1 Organizational studies encompass the study of organizations from multiple viewpoints, methods, and levels of analysis. For instance, one textbook divides these multiple viewpoints into three perspectives: modern, symbolic, and postmodern.

Another traditional distinction, present especially in American academia, is between the study of “micro” organizational behaviour — which refers to individual and group dynamics in an organizational setting — and “macro” strategic management and organizational theory which studies whole organizations and industries, how they adapt, and the strategies, structures and contingencies that guide them. To this distinction, some scholars have added an interest in “meso” scale structures – power, culture, and the networks of individuals and i. e. ronit units in organizations — and “field” level analysis which study how whole populations of organizations interact.

Whenever people interact in organizations, many factors come into play. Modern organizational studies attempt to understand and model these factors. Like all modernist social sciences, organizational studies seek to control, predict, and explain. There is some controversy over the ethics of controlling workers’ behavior, as well as the manner in which workers are treated (see Taylor’s scientific management approach compared to the human relations movement of the 1940s). As such, organizational behaviour or OB (and its cousin, Industrial psychology) have at times been accused of being the scientific tool of the powerful.

Those accusations notwithstanding, OB can play a major role in organizational development, enhancing organizational performance, as well as individual and group performance/satisfaction/commitment. One of the main goals of organizational theorists is, according to Simms (1994), “to revitalize organizational theory and develop a better conceptualization of organizational life. ” An organizational theorist should carefully consider levels assumptions being made in theory, and is concerned to help managers and administrators. 1. INTRODUCTION TO LEARNING.

The process of learning has great value for enriching human life in all spheres of life. All activities and behaviors that make personal, social and economic life peaceful and pleasurable are learned. Learning definitely affects human behaviour in organizations. There is little organizational behaviour that is not either directly or indirectly affected by learning. For example, a worker’s skill, a manager’s attitude, a supervisor’s motivation and a secretary’s mode of dress are all learned. Our ability to learn is also important to organizations preoccupied with controlled performance. Employees have to know what they are to do, how they are to do it, how well they are expected to do it, and the consequences of achieving good or poor levels of performance.

Thus, learning theories have influenced a range of organizational practices concerning: 1. The induction of new recruits 2. The design and delivery of job training 3. The design of payment systems- 4. How supervisors evaluate and provide feedback on employee performance 5. The design of forms of learning organization The concept of the learning organization became popular during the 1990s.

The learning organization is a configuration of structures and policies which encourage individual learning, with individual and organizational benefits. The organization itself can also be regarded as an entity which is capable of learning independently of its members. Knowledge has thus become a more important asset for many organizations than materials and products. 1. 1 WHAT IS LEARNING Learning covers virtually all behaviors and is concerned with the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and values, emotional responses (such as happiness and fear), and motor skills (such as operating a computer keyboard or riding a bicycle).

We can learn incorrect facts or pick up bad habits in the same way that we learn correct facts and acquire good habits. It refers to a spectrum of changes that occur as a result of one’s experience. Learning may be defined as “any relatively permanent change in behaviour or behavioral potential produced by experience”. It may be noted here that some behavioral changes take place due to the use of drugs, alcohol, or fatigue. Such changes are temporary. They are not considered learning. Therefore, changes are due to practice and experience, and relatively permanent, alone are illustrative of learning.

In the definition given above, it is clear that the process of learning has certain distinctive characteristics. These are: First, learning always involves some kind of experience. These experiences may be derived from inside the body or they may be sensory, arising outside. The task of inferring whether or not learning has taken place may be an obvious one, but observable behaviour may not always reveal learning. It is important to distinguish between two types of learning. Procedural learning or ‘knowing how’, concerns your ability to carry out particular skilled actions such as riding a horse.

Declarative learning or `knowing that’, concerns your store of factual knowledge such as an understanding of the history of our use of the horse. Second, the behavioral changes that take place due to learning are relatively permanent. Behaviour can be changed temporarily by many other factors and in ways which we would not like to call learning. These other factors include growing up or maturation (in children), aging (in adults), drugs, alcohol and fatigue. For example, you must have noticed that whenever one takes a sedative or drug or alcohol, one’s behaviour changes.

Each one of these drugs affect physiological functions leading to certain changes in behaviour. Such changes are temporary in nature and disappear as the effect of drugs wears out. Third, learning cannot be observed directly. We can only observe a person’s behaviour and draw the inference from it that learning has taken place. A distinction has to be made between learning and performance. Performance is evaluated by some quantitative and some qualitative measures of output. For example, the number of calls a sales representative makes to customers or the quality of a manager’s chairing of a committee meeting.

But, learning acts as a constraint on the outcome. Normally, we cannot perform any better than we have learned, though there are occasions when the right motivational disposition and a supportive environment help to raise the level of performance. Researchers have found that increased motivation may improve our performance up to a point but, beyond this, increased motivation may cause a lowering of the level of performance. 2. PRECONDITIONS FOR LEARNING Two preconditions for learning will increase the success of those who are to participate in such programs: employee readiness and motivation.

The condition known as employee readiness refers to both maturational and experiential factors in the employee’s background. Prospective employees should be screened to determine that they have the background knowledge or the skills necessary for learning what will be presented to them. Recognition of individual differences in readiness is as important in an organization as it is in any other learning situation. It is often desirable to group individuals according to their capacity to learn, as determined by scores from tests, or to provide a different or extended type of instruction for those who need it.

The other precondition for learning is that the employee be properly motivated. That is, for optimum learning the employee must recognize the need for acquiring new information or for having new skills; and a desire to learn as learning progresses must be maintained. While people at work are motivated by certain common needs, they differ from one another in the relative importance of these needs at any given time. For example, new recruits often have an intense desire for advancement, and have established specific goals for career progression.

Objectives that are clearly defined will produce increased motivation in the learning process when instructional objectives are related to individual needs. 3. SOME PREREQUISITES FOR LEARNING After employees have been placed in the learning situation, their readiness and motivation should be assessed further. In addition, facilitators should understand the basic learning issues discussed below. 3. 1 MEANINGFUL MATERIALS In accordance with adult learning theories, the material to be learned should be organized in as meaningful a manner as possible.

It should be arranged so that each successive experience builds upon preceding ones so that the employee is able to integrate the experiences into a useable pattern of knowledge and skills. The material should have face validity. 3. 2 REINFORCEMENT Anything which strengthens the employee’s response is called reinforcement. It may be in the form of approval from the instructor or facilitator or the feeling of accomplishment that follows the performance; or it may simply be confirmation by a software program that the employee’s response was correct.

It is generally most effective if it occurs immediately after a task has been performed. Behaviour modification, or a technique that operates on the principle that behaviour that is rewarded positively (reinforced) will be exhibited more frequently in the future, whereas behaviour that is penalized or unrewarded will decrease in frequency, is often used for such purposes 3. 3 TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE Unless what is learned in the development activity is applicable to what is required on the job, the effort will have been of little value.

The ultimate effectiveness of learning, therefore, is to be found in the answer to the question: ‘To what extent does what is learned transfer to the job? ’ Helpful approaches include ensuring that conditions in the development program conform as closely as possible to those on the job, and coaching employees on the principles for applying to the job the behaviors which they have learned. Furthermore, once formal instruction has been completed, the supervisor must ensure that the work environment supports, reinforces and rewards the employee for applying the new skills or knowledge.

3. 4 KNOWLEDGE OF PROGRESS As an employee’s development progresses, motivation may be maintained and even increased by providing knowledge of progress. Progress, as determined by tests and other records, may be plotted on a chart, commonly referred to as a learning curve. Exhibit 8. 9 is an example of a learning curve that is common in the acquisition of many job skills. 4. PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING A. Distributed Learning: Another factor that determines the effectiveness of learning is the amount of time given to practice in one session.

Should training or development be undertaken in five two-hour periods or in 10 one-hour periods? It has been found in most cases that spacing out the activities will result in more rapid learning and more permanent retention. This is the principle of distributed learning. Since the most efficient distribution will vary according to the type and complexity of the task to be learned, it is desirable to make reference to the rapidly growing body of research in this area when an answer is required for a specific learning situation. B. Whole v.

Part Learning: Most jobs and tasks can be broken down into parts that lend themselves to further analysis. The analysis of the most effective manner for completing each part then provides a basis for giving specific instruction. Airline flight attendant jobs, for example, involve a combination of mechanistic (specific tasks that follow a prescribed routine), and organic (tasks that involve decision-making and individualized responses) duties, which are best learnt separately, and then combined to form the whole job responsibility.

Thus, the prescribed takeoff and landing announcements, and formal safety procedures, are supplemented with separate learning activities about how to deal with difficult passengers or how to cope with food supply problems. In evaluating whole versus part learning, it is necessary to consider the nature of the task to be learned. If the task can be broken down successfully for part learning, it should probably be taught as a unit. C. Practice and Repetition: It is those things we do daily that become a part of our repertoire of skills.

Employees need frequent opportunities to practice their job tasks in the manner in which they will ultimately be expected to perform them. The individual who is being taught to operate a machine should have an opportunity to practice on it. Similarly, the supervisor who is being taught how to train should have supervised practice in training D. Multiple Sense Learning: It has long been acknowledged that the use of multiple senses increases learning. Smith and Delahaye state that about 80 per cent of what a person perceives is obtained visually, 11 per cent by hearing and 9 per cent by the other senses combined.

It follows that in order to maximize learning, multiple senses of the employees, particularly sight and hearing, should be engaged. Visual aids are therefore emphasized as being important to the learning and development activities. 5. THEORIES OF LEARNING OR APPROCHES TO LEARNING 1. BEHAVIORLIST APPROACH Behaviorism, as a learning theory, can be traced back to Aristotle, whose essay “Memory” focused on association being made between events such as lightning and thunder. Other philosophers that followed Aristotle’s thoughts are Hobbs (1650), Hume (1740), Brown (1820), Bain (1855) and Ebbinghause (1885) (Black, 1995).

Pavlov, Watson, Thorndike and Skinner later developed the theory in more detail. Watson is the theorist credited with coining the term “behaviorism”. The school of adult learning theory that adopted these principles has become known as the school of behaviorism, which saw learning as a straightforward process of response to stimuli. The provision of a reward or reinforcement is believed to strengthen the response and therefore result in changes in behavior – the test, according to this school of thought, is as to whether learning had occurred. Spillane (2002) states, “the behaviorist perspective, associated with B.

F. Skinner, holds that the mind at work cannot be observed, tested, or understood; thus, behaviorists are concerned with actions (behavior) as the sites of knowing, teaching, and learning”. The hypothesis behind behaviorlist learning theories is that all learning occurs when behavior is influenced and changed by external factors. Behavioralism disregards any notion that there may be an internal component to man’s learning. Grippin and Peters (1984) emphasize in regard to an individual’s subjugation to external stimulus as a determinant of response (i. e. , behavior).

Contiguity is understood as the timing of events that is necessary to bring about behavioral change, while reinforcement refers to the probability that repeated positive or negative events will produce an anticipated change in behavior. 1. (A) Classical Conditioning (Pavlov) Classical conditioning is a reflexive or automatic type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus. Originators and Key Contributors: First described by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), Russian physiologist, in 1903, and studied in infants by John B.

Watson (1878-1958). Several types of learning exist. The most basic form is associative learning, i. e. , making a new association between events in the environment. There are two forms of associative learning: classical conditioning (made famous by Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs) and operant conditioning. Pavlov’s Dogs In the early twentieth century, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov did Nobel prize-winning work on digestion. While studying the role of saliva in dogs’ digestive processes, he stumbled upon a phenomenon he labeled “psychic reflexes.

” While an accidental discovery, he had the foresight to see the importance of it. Pavlov’s dogs, restrained in an experimental chamber, were presented with meat powder and they had their saliva collected via a surgically implanted tube in their saliva glands. Over time, he noticed that his dogs who begin salivation before the meat powder was even presented, whether it was by the presence of the handler or merely by a clicking noise produced by the device that distributed the meat powder. Fascinated by this finding, Pavlov paired the meat powder with various stimuli such as the ringing of a bell.

After the meat powder and bell (auditory stimulus) were presented together several times, the bell was used alone. Pavlov’s dogs, as predicted, responded by salivating to the sound of the bell (without the food). The bell began as a neutral stimulus (i. e. the bell itself did not produce the dogs’ salivation). However, by pairing the bell with the stimulus that did produce the salivation response, the bell was able to acquire the ability to trigger the salivation response. Pavlov therefore demonstrated how stimulus-response bonds (which some consider as the basic building blocks of learning) are formed.

He dedicated much of the rest of his career further exploring this finding. In technical terms, the meat powder is considered an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) and the dog’s salivation is the unconditioned response (UCR). The bell is a neutral stimulus until the dog learns to associate the bell with food. Then the bell becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) which produces the conditioned response (CR) of salivation after repeated pairings between the bell and food. John B. Watson: Early Classical Conditioning with Humans John B. Watson further extended Pavlov’s work and applied it to human beings.

In 1921, Watson studied Albert, an 11 month old infant child. The goal of the study was to condition Albert to become afraid of a white rat by pairing the white rat with a very loud, jarring noise (UCS). At first, Albert showed no sign of fear when he was presented with rats, but once the rat was repeatedly paired with the loud noise (UCS), Albert developed a fear of rats. It could be said that the loud noise (UCS) induced fear (UCR). The implications of Watson’s experiment suggested that classical conditioning could cause some phobias in humans. 1.

(B) GOMS Model (Card, Moran, Newell) The GOMS Model is a human information processing model that predicts what skilled users will do in seemingly unpredictable situations. Originators and proponents: Card, Moran and Newell in 1983; Bonnie John et al. This model is the general term for a family of human information processing techniques that attempt to model and predict user behavior. Typically used by software designers, a person’s behavior is analyzed in terms of four components: Goals – something that the person wants to accomplish. Can be high level to low level.

Operators – basic perceptual, cognitive, or motor actions used to accomplish goals, or actions that the software allows user to make. Methods – procedures (sequences) of sub-goals and operators that can accomplish a goal Selection rules – personal rules users follow in deciding what method to use in a circumstance 1. (C) Operant Conditioning (Skinner) A behaviorist theory based on the fundamental idea that behaviors that are reinforced will tend to continue, while behaviors that are punished will eventually end. Originators and Key Contributors: B. F. Skinner, built upon Ivan Pavlov’s theories of classical conditioning.

Operant conditioning can be described as a process that attempts to modify behavior through the use of positive and negative reinforcement. Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a particular behavior and a consequence. Example 1: Parents rewarding a child’s excellent grades with candy or some other prize. Example 2: A schoolteacher awards points to those students who are the most calm and well-behaved. Students eventually realize that when they voluntarily become quieter and better behaved, that they earn more points.

Example 3: A form of reinforcement (such as food) is given to an animal every time the animal (for example, a hungry lion) presses a lever. The term “operant conditioning” originated by the behaviorist B. F. Skinner, who believed that one should focus on the external, observable causes of behavior (rather than try to unpack the internal thoughts and motivations) Reinforcement comes in two forms: positive and negative. Positive and negative reinforces Positive reinforces are favorable events or outcomes that are given to the individual after the desired behavior.

This may come in the form of praise, rewards, etc. Negative reinforces typically are characterized by the removal of an undesired or unpleasant outcome after the desired behavior. A response is strengthened as something considered negative is removed. The goal in both of these cases of reinforcement is for the behavior to increase. Positive and negative punishment Punishment, in contrast, is when the increase of something undesirable attempts to cause a decrease in the behavior that follows. Positive punishment is when unfavorable events or outcomes are given in order to weaken the response that follows.

Negative punishment is characterized by when a favorable event or outcome is removed after a undesired behavior occurs. The goal in both of these cases of punishment is for a behavior to decrease. What is the difference between operant conditioning and classical conditioning? In operant conditioning, a voluntary response is then followed by a reinforcing stimulus. In this way, the voluntary response (e. g. studying for an exam) is more likely to be done by the individual. In contrast, classical conditioning is when a stimulus automatically triggers an involuntary response. 1. (D) Socialist Learning Theory (Bandura).

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. The theory has often been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation. Originator: Albert Bandura People learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. “Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.

” (Bandura). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences. Necessary conditions for effective modeling: 1. Attention — various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One’s characteristics (e. g. sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention. 2. Retention — remembering what you paid attention to.

Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal 3. Reproduction — reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction. 4. Motivation — having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such asA past (i. e. traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model) Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, that is, the world and a person’s behavior cause each other, while behaviorism essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behavior, Bandura,who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic, and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well.

Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes (one’s ability to entertain images in minds and language). 2. CONSTURCTIVIST Constructivism is a synthesis of multiple theories diffused into one form. It is the assimilation of both behaviorialist and cognitive ideals. The “constructivist stance maintains that learning is a process of constructing meaning; it is how people make sense of their experience”.

This is a combination effect of using a person’s cognitive abilities and insight to understand their environment. This coincides especially well with current adult learning theory. This concept is easily translated into a self-directed learning style, where the individual has the ability to take in all the information and the environment of a problem and learn. Constructivism as a paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality.

New information is linked to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective. Originators and important contributors: Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey, Vico, Rorty, Bruner Constructivism A reaction to didactic approaches such as behaviorism and programmed instruction, constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation.

Each person has a different interpretation and construction of knowledge process. The learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation. Vygotsky’s theory is one of the foundations of constructivism. It asserts three major themes: Major themes: 1. Social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. In contrast to Jean Piaget’s understanding of child development (in which development necessarily precedes learning), Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development.

He states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (inter-psychological) and then inside the child (intra-psychological). ” 2. The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO). The MKO refers to anyone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept. The MKO is normally thought of as being a teacher, coach, or older adult, but the MKO could also be peers, a younger person, or even computers. 3. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

The ZPD is the distance between a student’s ability to perform a task under adult guidance and/or with peer collaboration and the student’s ability solving the problem independently. According to Vygotsky, learning occurred in this zone. Vygotsky focused on the connections between people and the sociocultural context in which they act and interact in shared experiences (Crawford, 1996). According to Vygotsky, humans use tools that develop from a culture, such as speech and writing, to mediate their social environments. Initially children develop these tools to serve solely as social functions, ways to communicate needs.

Vygotsky believed that the internalization of these tools led to higher thinking skills. 3. COGNITIVISM The cognitivist paradigm essentially argues that the “black box” of the mind should be opened and understood. The learner is viewed as an information processor (like a computer). Originators and important contributors: Merrill -Component Display Theory (CDT), Reigeluth (Elaboration Theory), Gagne, Briggs, Wager, Bruner (moving toward cognitive constructivism), Schank (scripts), Scandura (structural learning) The cognitivist revolution replaced behaviorism in 1960s as the dominant paradigm.

Cognitivism focuses on the inner mental activities – opening the “black box” of the human mind is valuable and necessary for understanding how people learn. Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving need to be explored. Knowledge can be seen as schema or symbolic mental constructions. Learning is defined as change in a learner’s schemata. A response to behaviorism, people are not “programmed animals” that merely respond to environmental stimuli; people are rational beings that require active participation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking.

Changes in behavior are observed, but only as an indication of what is occurring in the learner’s head. Cognitivism uses the metaphor of the mind as computer: information comes in, is being processed, and leads to certain outcomes. 3. 1 GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY Gestalt psychology or gestaltism (German: Gestalt – “essence or shape of an entity’s complete form”) is a theory of mind and brain of the Berlin School; the operational principle of gestalt psychology is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies.


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