How Do Humans Learn?
Three ways that enable us to know what we know
Let's first define learning.
Learning can be narrowed down to a change in ones knowledge or behavior.
2. Social Learning Theory
Another important aspect of social learning theory is that we are able to observe consequences of others' actions and thus learn from them. For example, if I observe my older sibling getting punished for talking back to my parents, I learn what will happen to me if I do the same. This discourages me from talking back to my parents because I do not want to get punished.
Social learning theory also works to encourage certain behaviors. For example, if I see my classmate getting rewarded for answering a question, then I learn the importance of paying attention and answering questions and am more likely to repeat such behavior.
Social learning theory often comes very naturally to us- so much so that we don't realize when it is happening! We pick up many bad and good habits from our parents, for example. Do you ever catch yourself saying "oh my goodness, I just sounded exactly like my mother." This is an example of social learning theory.
3. Information Processing Theory
The first stage is sensory memory, which is where your brain picks up sensory stimuli through your five senses- sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. Your brain then tries to make sense of this information. It keeps what it thinks is important and discards what it deems useless.
The second stage is working memory. In this stage of learning, information is held temporarily in the brain. This stage is also the time where short term memory is combined with long term memory in an effort to make more sense of things. It combines both old and new information. Short term memory is typically limited to 5-9 items at a time. There is a finite limit to working memory.
The third and final stage of information processing theory is long term memory. As implied in the name, this stage holds all of the information we have previously learned. For example, it contains previous memories, facts and even names of people we know! Long term memory is different from working memory in that as far as we know, it is infinite!