Definition of learning
We use the term 'learning' the whole time in our day-to-day life. But do we actually know the actual meaning of this word and its real significance? Almost everything that people do, any action they take is the consequence and result of preceding learning and experience yet. On the other hand, for some people learning is still associated exceptionally with the educational process. Such idea of the concept of learning is not quite correct. Throughout our lives learn a disorderly variety of skills. For instance, as infants we learn to eat, to draw attention to ourselves, to crawl, to make our first steps and many other things. Therefore, learning is an organized process aimed at the acquisition of knowledge, skills, preferences, values, and beliefs through study, instruction, or experience that can lead to relatively permanent changes in behavior of a human being. Moreover, learning allows an individual to form a new mental model or revise and modify the old one on the basis of knowledge that he/she has acquired. Learning should be considered as a process, rather than a compilation of factual knowledge. To put it simple, what is taught is not the same as what is learned.
Learning is not a sharply defined process as it may occur in a variety of ways, such as part of education, personal growth and advancement, breeding, or training. It stands to reason that each of these ways has its own peculiarities.
Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, another question arises. The question that has to be answered is whether the process of learning can be measured or not. The answer is quite simple. "Learning itself cannot be measured, but its results can be" (qtd. Businessdictionary.com).
The relationship between learning and behavior
The acquisition of knowledge is not always an easy thing. In fact, the process of intensive learning may put a student under pressure and push him to the wall. Therefore, behavior and non-academic skills are just as important as the learning process itself.
If a student's social behavior is proper and responsible his/her learning definitely benefits from such kind of behavior. Say the least of it, the establishment of supportive and productive relations and socially active behavior are the keys to succeed in learning. For example, studying together is one of the best ways that helps students make the process of learning easier (Glogowska, Young, & Lockyer, 2007). Moreover, studying together also encourages better academic results for both students. At the same time, it makes the process of learning more interesting and even entertaining. Consequently, such interaction is considered to be a mutually beneficial process.
Types of learning
Learning has been classified categorized in many ways and types. Basically there are three basic types of learning: observational, cognitive, and learning through conditioning.
Even being babies and not realizing everything what happens around us, the first way to learn something is by watchfulness. Observational learning involves looking at someone else acting in different situations and taking notice of the effects and results of those actions. This type does not imply learning by your own experiences. For instance, as infants, we do not learn how to pronounce different words from our own experience, but we simply watch and listen to all the grownups around us speak. Observational learning may be so natural to us that we are not even aware of the fact that it is happening right here and now.
Cognitive learning is different from the observational type, as it includes acquiring new knowledge though active operations of thinking. It also involves exercising and applying memory ability. For example, when someone asks you the time, you tell them what time it is after looking at your clock. It is interesting to note that the cognitive process of learning in this particular case was completely inside your head.
The relationship between learning and cognition
According to Collins, M., Greeno, J., & Resnicft, L. (1992), "learning and cognition are central concepts in educational psychology". One may say that they are synonymous categories, but, in fact, learning and cognition are distinctly different things. However, these two processes are inseparably associated with each other. The process of learning provides for discovering new information. Cognition includes acquiring and comprehending that information and using it in the relevant circumstances. Learning is essential to foster cognitive processes, and cognition, for its part, in an indispensable process when it comes to applying the acquired knowledge not only to the already learned skills, but also to circumstances of tomorrow.
The learning process can be remarked not only in human beings, but even in animals. For example, you darling cat may be fond of scratching your leather sofa. In order to get rid of the cat's bad habit you will overspray the furniture with bitter aerosol. When the cat decides to scratch your sofa the next time, he or she will probably spit or sniff as this smell is one of those that cats cannot stand. As a result, your pet will learn in a few minutes that his or her favorite clawing sofa smells unpleasant. Once your cat becomes of aware of this information, cognitive process will stand the cat in good stead by helping him or her use the information in the future. In this particular case cognition will cause the cat to avoid that piece of furniture. The cat acquired the information and eventually used it to the best advantage.
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2. What is Learning: Understanding Effective Classroom Strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2014, from http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-learning-understanding-effective-classroom-strategies.html#lesson
3. Collins, M., Greeno, J., & Resnicft, L. (1992). Cognition and Learning. Retrieved December 7, 2014, from http://www.wou.edu/~girodm/611/GCR.pdf
4. Glogowska, M., Young, P., & Lockyer, L. (2007). Should I go or should I stay? Active Learning in Higher Education, 8(1), 63-77. doi: 10.1177/1469787407074115
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