Cognitive learning refers to a powerful method, which offers different ways of obtaining knowledge and does not imitate others like operant and conditioning learning. It is the process of acquiring knowledge and skills through mental abilities and these cognitive processes involve making mental representations of physical events and objects including information processing. In cognitive learning, a person learns by touching, experiencing, reading, watching and listening. Therefore, it helps people to form and transmit a multifaceted culture, which consists norms, symbols, beliefs and values that are diverse. Cognitive learning is displayed by intellectual skills and knowledge recall. These include understanding data or information, ability of solving problem by being able to choose among alternatives, implementing knowledge, examining and amalgamating data, assessing actions or ideas (Klein & Mowrer, 1989, p.20). For instance, are girls and boys equivalent in the abilities of cognitive learning? Do boys and girls advance in the cognitive learning abilities at the same pace? Do both girls and boys utilize the sections of their cognitive of their cognitive learning in similar methods?
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According to education and psychology, learning refers to a process, which gathers together emotional, environmental and cognitive effects and occurrences for achieving, improving or bring alteration in the knowledge, values, skills and globe perceptions of an individual. A learning theory tries to explain how animals and human beings learn, hence assisting people to comprehend the inherently multifaceted procedure of learning. There are three major philosophical dimensions or groups in whish the theories can be categorized; constructive, behaviorism and cognitivism. Behaviorism looks mainly on the independently recognizable features of learning. Consequently, cognitivism focuses further than just behavior to describe learning that is brain-based. Finally, constructive perceive learning as a procedure that the individual or student forms innovative concepts or thoughts actively (Klein & Mowrer, 1989, p.25).
Behaviorism as a learning theory was established by B.F. Skinner. Significantly, there are three main assumptions that are believed to be correct in this theory. They are as follows; learning is displayed through an alteration in someone’s character. Secondly, the environments or surroundings determine an individual’s character and finally, the standards of reinforcement and contiguity are important to describing the process of learning. For behaviorism theory, learning is the accomplishment or achievement of innovative and new character through conditioning. There are two classes of conditioning; classical and operant conditioning (Rescorla, 1973, p.15).
In classical conditioning, the character of an individual is as a result of response to certain or particular stimulus according to Pavlov’s Dogs. Pavlov was concerned in learning how reflexes work, when he identified that the dogs salivated without the appropriate stimulus. Though there was no food that was brought to the dogs, their saliva continued to drip. Eventually, it ended up that the dogs were reacting to lab coats that were worn by the individuals who served the dogs with food. Hence, when the dogs saw a lab coat they reacted as if there was food being brought to them. Therefore, Pavlov studied the way these phenomena or events were associated. He did this by sticking the bell at the time the dogs were being fed. Thus, any time the dogs could here the bell sounding, they related this to their meal and after sometimes they responded by salivating (Rescorla & Wagner, 1972, p.35).
Although in the real world individuals do not react precisely like the Pavlov’s dogs, classical conditioning can be applied in different areas of our lives. For instance in a classroom set up, classical conditioning can be implemented where by an environment that is conducive is created in order to assist the students to conquer fear or nervousness. The tutor or instructor can pair a circumstance or situation that is anxiety provoking by ensuring that every student perform or present in a big group or crowd having favorable environments. This will assist the student to learn and understand new relations Rather than fearing or feeling anxious and nervous in such circumstances, the individual will learn how to stay and live calm and relaxed even though he or she is in a big group.
Secondly, in the behaviorism theory, there is the operant conditioning. This is where the behavior of an individual is reinforced either through punishment or a reward/present. This theory was established by B.F. Skinner and it is also referred to as radical behaviorism. The term operant means the method in which an individual’s character operates on the surrounding. Concisely, someone’s character might lead either to strengthening or reinforcement that enhances the likeliness of the character to recur or punishment if the behavior does not lead to the minimization of the character. Hence, the words reinforcement and punishment are dependent on the outcome of the actions. Therefore, in operant conditioning, it is clear that individual’s character that is reinforced persists while that which is punished is finally eliminated or stopped (Tucker, Sigafoos & Bushell, 1998, pp.532-544).
Both punishment and reinforcement can either be positive or negative depending on whether the reward offered is negative or positive. Positive reinforcement happens if someone’s character is accompanied by a pleasant stimulus, which enhances the frequency of that character. Consequently, negative reinforcement happens if a character is accompanied by the elimination of unpleasant stimulus hence, increasing the frequency of that character. On the other hand, positive punishment happens if one’s character is followed by an unpleasant stimulus while negative punishment happens in case a character is accompanied by the elimination of a pleasant stimulus (Domian, 2003, p.68).
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In reality, operant conditioning can be applied to promote or curb some behaviors among the students. For instance, a tutor can give a reward to any student who attains some set marks in an examination and punish those who do not obtain those marks. As a result, this will assist the student to work hard in order to receive awards and avoid being punished. In case of a positive punishment, students who do not perform well can be given extra assignments. In addition, a negative reinforcement like students stealing examination and are not caught by the tutor will make them to continue doing the same act although the stimulus is unpleasant.
In conclusion, learning theory is a wide term consisting of many behavioral theories based on the processes of learning. These theories result to permanent change of behavior or probable change of behaviors.
Domjan, M., (2003). The Principles of Learning and Behavior, Fifth Edition, Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Klein, B., & Mowrer, R., (1989). Terminological and conceptual implications. Contemporary Learning Theories: Instrumental Conditioning Theory and the Impact of Biological Constraints on Learning.
Rescorla, R., (1973). Effect of US habituation following conditioning. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 82: 17-143
Rescorla, R., & Wagner, R., (1972). A theory of Pavlovian conditioning. Variations in effectiveness of reinforcement and non-reinforcement. Classical Conditioning II. Black & W. F. Prokasky, Jr. (eds.), New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Tucker, M., Sigafoos, J., & Bushell, H. (1998). Use of noncontingent reinforcement in the treatment of challenging behavior. Behavior Modification, 22: 529–547.