Learning and its Types B.Ed Notes

Learning is the key to human behavior. It refers to the spectrum of changes that occur as a result of one’s experience. Learning can be defined as “any relatively permanent change in behavior or behavioral capacity produced by experience”. “Changes due to practice and experience, which are relatively permanent and are examples of learning. Learning involves a sequence of psychological events. The learning process has some distinctive characteristics. The first characteristic is that learning always involves some form of experience. We experience an event happening in a certain sequence on several occasions. For example, one knows that if the bell rings after sunset in the hostel, dinner is ready to be served. Experiencing satisfaction repeatedly after doing something in a certain way leads to the formation of a habit. Sometimes a single experience can lead to learning.

Learning is the foundation of our existence. It’s the magic that allows us to transform from helpless newborns into individuals brimming with knowledge and skills. But what exactly is learning? In essence, it’s the process of acquiring new information, experiences, and behaviors that change the way we perceive and interact with the world. This seemingly simple definition belies a fascinating complexity. Learning manifests in a multitude of ways, each playing a crucial role in shaping who we are. Let’s delve deeper and explore the diverse landscape of learning.

Learning happens in many ways. There are some methods which are used in the acquisition of simple reactions while other methods are used in the acquisition of complex reactions. The simplest form of learning is conditioning. Two types of conditioning have been identified. The first is called classical conditioning and the second is called instrumental/operant conditioning. Furthermore, we have (Trial and Error Learning and Insight Learning) Observational Learning, Cognitive Learning, Verbal Learning, Concept Learning and Skill Learning.

Non-Associative Learning: The Building Blocks

Our learning journey begins with non-associative learning, a fundamental process that lays the groundwork for more complex forms. Here, we develop basic responses to stimuli in our environment. There are two main types:

  • Habituation: This involves a decrease in response to a repeated, neutral stimulus. Imagine a baby startled by a loud noise initially. With repeated exposure, the baby learns the noise is harmless and stops reacting drastically.
  • Sensitization: Conversely, sensitization is an increased response to a stimulus, often due to its intensity or association with something unpleasant. For instance, a wild animal might become more alert after a close encounter with a predator.

Associative Learning: Forming Connections

As we progress, we graduate to associative learning, where we establish connections between stimuli and responses. This allows us to predict and navigate our surroundings more effectively. Here are the prominent players:

  • Classical Conditioning: Pioneered by Ivan Pavlov, this form involves pairing a neutral stimulus with a naturally occurring one to elicit a conditioned response. Pavlov’s dogs salivated at the sound of a bell after repeatedly associating it with food. We learn to associate the sound of a fire alarm with danger through classical conditioning.
  • Operant Conditioning: Introduced by B.F. Skinner, operant conditioning focuses on how consequences influence behavior. Actions followed by positive reinforcement (rewards) are strengthened, while those met with punishment (negative reinforcement) are weakened. A child receiving praise for good grades is more likely to repeat the behavior.

Observational Learning: Learning from Others

The world becomes our classroom when we engage in observational learning. We learn by observing and imitating the actions, behaviors, and consequences faced by others. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory highlights the role of models. A child witnessing a parent’s helpfulness is more likely to adopt the same behavior.

Cognitive Learning: Beyond Conditioning

Moving beyond simple associations, cognitive learning involves actively processing information, problem-solving, and decision-making. Here, we go beyond rote memorization and develop a deeper understanding of concepts.

  • Discovery Learning: This student-centered approach encourages exploration and experimentation. Imagine a child learning about magnetism by playing with magnets and observing their interactions.
  • Receptive Learning: In contrast, receptive learning involves passively acquiring information through lectures, readings, or demonstrations. Listening attentively in a classroom is an example.

Learning Styles: Tailoring the Approach

While everyone learns, individual preferences exist. Learning styles refer to the ways in which people absorb and process information most effectively. Some common styles include:

  • Visual Learners: They benefit from diagrams, charts, and graphic organizers.
  • Auditory Learners: They excel with lectures, discussions, and audio recordings.
  • Kinesthetic Learners: They learn best through hands-on activities and movement.

Understanding these styles allows educators and individuals to tailor learning approaches for optimal results.

The Learning Ecosystem: A Tapestry of Influences

Learning is rarely an isolated event. It’s influenced by a complex interplay of factors:

  • Motivation: The desire and drive to learn are crucial. Curiosity, a sense of purpose, and the potential for rewards all fuel motivation.
  • Environment: The physical and social surroundings significantly impact learning. A supportive, stimulating environment fosters curiosity and knowledge retention.
  • Metacognition: “Thinking about thinking” allows learners to monitor their progress, identify strengths and weaknesses, and adjust their strategies accordingly.

The Everlasting Pursuit: Lifelong Learning

Learning is a lifelong journey, not confined to classrooms or textbooks. We learn from daily experiences, interactions, and challenges. As the world evolves, so too must our knowledge base. Embracing lifelong learning allows us to adapt, grow, and thrive in a dynamic world.


Learning is a magnificent tapestry woven from diverse threads. By understanding its varied forms, tailoring approaches to individual styles, and fostering a love for lifelong learning, we unlock our full potential and navigate the world with greater understanding and purpose. Remember, the most important lesson is often the joy of discovery itself – the thrill of acquiring new knowledge and the satisfaction of personal growth. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and keep expanding your horizons!

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