Process in Human Learning

Jordan Cano

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www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/brain-transplants.html

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning focuses on learning involuntary emotional or physiological responses called respondents because they are automatic responses to stimuli (Woolfolk 254). Pavlov created an experiment and used a dog and a tuning fork to demonstrate how involuntary responses could be conditioned. First, Pavlov sounded the tuning fork and recorded that the dog did not salivate (Woolfork 255). He then fed the dog and recorded that the dog began to salivate once the food was in front of the dog (Woolfolk 255). These results that Pavlov was recording were the dogs initial involuntary responses. He then start to tune the fork before giving the dog his food and makes this a repeated pattern of habit. After a couple of days the dog is used to hearing the tuning fork and begins to salivate just to the sound of the fork because he thinks he is about to be fed (Woolfolk 255). Now these involuntary responses become conditioned to the dog showing how these respondents could be changed or altered. These things happen to the human brain as well and our stimuli in learning could be altered or changed with repeated pattern.
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Operant Conditioning

Many respondents can be influenced more intentionally than classical conditioning. This intentional conditioning is called operant conditioning and is the learning process involved in operant behavior (Woolfolk 256). There are two ways that operant conditioning is used and its through reinforcement and punishment. "A reinforcer is any consequence that strengthens the behavior it follows," so there are positive reinforcers and negative reinforcers. A positive reinforcer for example is when a student answers a question correctly in class they might get a star on their folder to show they have done well. This "produces a new stimulus," which gives the students incentives to be good so they can replicate that same behavior and get rewarded (Woolfolk 257). There is also negative reinforcement which is "the contingent removal of an unpleasant stimulus right after a response that increases the future rate of the response" (Woolfolk 257). An example of a negative reinforcer is when a student "gets sick right before a test," therefore the student gets out of having to do the test and the "unpleasant stimulus" is averted (Woolfolk 258). Punishment, however, deals more directly towards consequences and engraving a sense of fear in the students mind to categorize what they were doing as bad and to never repeat those actions. An example of punishment would be to give a kid detention or take away recess if the kid was acting up in class and was behaving inappropriately. "Punishment involves decreasing or suppressing behavior" (Woolfolk 258).

Social Learning Theory

Albert Bandura created this theory and its separated into 2 different learning styles which are enactive, observational learning (Woolfolk 278). Enactive learning is similar to operant conditioning but differs in the aspect that the "reinforcement does not 'stamp in' responses" (Woolfolk 279). Since it doesn't clearly state right from wrong kids might not understand and fully comprehend what is trying to be taught. This type of learning comes from expectation more than reality. Observational learning on the other hand is when students and kids learn from watching other people and observing the consequence (Woolfolk 279). This observational learning plants pictures into the kids minds and teaches them without them knowing. If a kid is punished in class for fighting and the teacher punishes the student for fighting, not only is the kid that was fighting affected but the other students in the class also learn from this experience by seeing that it is not okay to fight. They understand now that if they fight the same consequence will happen to them. These both enhance students learning because although the action may not involve them, surrounding students still retain the same information as the student that is being punished or rewarded. "Incentives can affect performance" although "learning may have occurred, it may not be demonstrated until the situation is appropriate or there are incentives to perform" (Woolfolk 279).
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Information Processing Theory

In the information Process Theory, memory is broken down into three sub categories which consist of Sensory, Working and Long-Term Memory. All three categories process information differently and influence what you retain, which builds your knowledge. "Attention has a role in all three memory processes and in the interactions among them" (Woolfolk 293). People's attention span is probably the biggest factor on what information their brain processes and how they view the world. People are quick to reject things that go against the information we contain from our long-term memory knowledge, which is called our perception.


Sensory memory is the ability to understand and differentiate visuals, smells, and sounds so our body understands whats happening and can "make sense of them" (Woolfolk 294). This process usually happens really fast and "lasts less than 3 seconds" but covers a lot of information in that little amount of time (Woolfolf 294). An example of sensory memory is how people can differentiate the sound of a laugh from the sound of a cry and process what is happening. 168


"Working memory is the 'workbench' of the memory system... where new information is help temporarily and combined with knowledge from long-term memory... " (Woolfolk 297). This process deals with the interaction of your long-term memory and your short-term memory. It also is the beginning process of storing new information and retaining information to your long-term memory. It holds information only for a limited amount of time and tries to relate it to previous situations to form a connection and understand whats happening. An example would consist of reading a book and understanding the information and relating to it while at the same time storing new information learned during the reading.


Long-term memory is the knowledge that you contain in your brain and is the information that is retrieved during the working memory process. This is information that is learned after a period of time or repetition and things that are engraved in your memory such as how to tie your shoes or how to solve a simple math problem. The older you get and the more you study, the more information gets stored into your long-term memory and with a larger field of long-term memory comes more human knowledge and you can understand and comprehend situations better.

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