Human Learning Quiz #1

by Torin Rogers


Classical Conditioning

When someone learns by association it is called classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is generally regarded as a primitive method of learning. A simple experiment, often used in high schools, illustrates classical conditioning. Students are asked to place lemonade powder on their tongues every time the teacher rings a bell. The powder causes them to salivate. The teacher repeats this exercise 20-30 times and then tells the students not to put the powder in their mouths the next time the bell rings. When the teacher rings the bell again, most of the students salivate just by hearing the bell. This happens because there are four variables: the unconditioned stimulus (lemonade powder), the unconditioned response (salivating), the conditioned stimulus (ringing bell), and the conditioned response (salivating). This experiment clearly illustrates that repetition of conditioned stimulus before an unconditioned stimulus creates a conditioned response.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is people learning by reinforcement, which can be either positive or negative. It is often described as someone learning through consequences that strengthen or weaken behavior. For example, Jessica is learning how to multiply numbers in math. Her parents have made flashcards from the multiplication tables and work with her each night. Every time Jessica gets the right answer she gets a Skittles. The Skittles is the reinforcement that strengthens her behavior, which is learning how to multiply correctly.


Albert Bandura made a key observation in 1977 about how the traditional behaviorism approach to learning was a little flawed. The flaw was that behaviorism, in the teaching sense, had many limitations. In time, Bandura was labeled as a neo-behaviorist, but he corrected this label with the social learning method. The social learning theory distinguishes between two different key methods, enactive learning and observational learning.

Enactive Learning

Enactive learning is learning from the consequence of an experience, either good or bad. For example, Jimmy has never eaten broccoli but he is hungry and tries some. After eating one piece, though, he doesn’t like the taste and makes the worst sour face one can imagine. Jimmy's experience provided him with information and taught him that he doesn't like broccoli. This is the key difference between enactive learning and operant conditioning, because consequences provide information not reinforcement.

Observational Learning

When someone learns by observing another it is called observational learning. All of us learn a wide variety of things by observing the world around us. One example of observational learning would be a child learning how to kick a soccer ball. The child may think it’s a simple thing -- just swing the leg and kick the ball hard, only to find out that kicking a ball that way hurts. However, by watching their older sibling or a coach kick the ball without pain, they see that a specific technique is used for kicking a soccer ball. By mimicking what they observe they learn the proper technique.

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Information input processing is the process through which new information is presented, stored, and recalled in the brain. First, the brain receives information through input from the senses, mainly through the eyes and ears. This information can either be forgotten or it can travel into working memory. Working memory is also referred to as short term memory. From here, the information can once again be forgotten, or it can be transferred to long term memory through the process of consolidation. Finally, the information can be recalled into working memory from the long term memory. Think about this sequence like checking out at the grocery store. Items (information) are put onto the conveyer belt (senses) where they are scanned (input) into the register by the checker. Now, better judgment prevails and the ice cream is put back (forgotten). The scanned items are now put into grocery bags (consolidated into long term memory), but a question arises about an item’s price and it is removed from a grocery bag (recalled) for a price check.

WORKS CITED n.d. n.d. n.d.

Woolfolk, Anita. Educational Psychology. 13. Pearson Education, 2015.