Human Learning: What's the Process?
Conditioning & Learning/Retention Theories
The theory of Classical Conditioning is that of a subject being trained to respond in a specific manner to a specific trigger, through the means of contiguity. This explains how we are innately wired to learn as humans; the popular example of Pavlov's dog is a great explanation. Doctor Pavlov was doing a study on the salivation of dogs when they ate, when after a while, he would enter the room without food and the dogs would begin to salivate, as if there was a meal on the way. This is what is referred to as a "Pavlovian response", or an inherent reaction that has been programmed into a being over time. This is a very popular theory used to train students to respond positively to testing situations or in-class participation scenarios, and negatively to disruptive or inappropriate behavior. Obviously a student is not a test subject, but the general principle of the situation does apply quite smoothly to the task of creating the ideal classroom environment. With the extensive diversity of most classrooms today, it can often times be difficult to connect with each student on a personal enough level for effective teaching, which is where this idea of conditioning comes in, allowing for a teacher to evoke united responses from his/her students and in turn lower the time and energy spent in the transitional process. The numbers show this to be very true; for instance, Canada projects that by 2031 one in three Canadians will belong to a visible minority, with South Asians representing the largest group. More recently, in the 2011-2012 school year about 60% of students with disabilities spent most of their time in general education classrooms. Also, in America, more than 16 million children (roughly 22% of all children) live in poverty, as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2013; this means these families were earning around $23,550 for a family of four (Woolfolk, 4).
Social Learning Theory
Information Processing Theory
The sensory part of the model represents the human senses (i.e. sight, sound, smell, touch, etc.). These human senses help us to digest the information that is thrown our way. The working memory, also known as short-term memory, is the retention of information that is new and has just been absorbed. This stage is where the information is still being broken down and compared to what we already know, in hopes of finding some connection that will allow us to hold onto the knowledge for future reference. Long-term memory is the information that has been stored for long-term recall; this information is compared to the new information that we pick up from our environment, and through this process we hope to relate the bits of knowledge to one another in order to remember what we have learned (Woolfolk, 292-293). For example, a child learns the alphabet song for the first time. He/she then processes what they have learned, how it felt, what the tune sounded like; they then try to relate that information to something that they already know, maybe another song they were taught at home or that they heard on television. Then the information is stored for long-term recall, and when they want to recite the alphabet song, they have trigger that allows them to remember what they have learned.