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Major Learning Types Essay

Learning is a behavior change that takes place as an outcome of the experience. Learning entail; knowledge absorption, procession, and retention. Learning can take place through association, consequences and, observation. Some of the theories put forward by the educational psychologist to explain how one acquires and organize the knowledge and skills include; There are many types of learning, some major learning types are discussed below,

Classical Conditioning Learning

A theory by psychologist Ivan Pavlov which defines classical conditioning as a mode of learning that involves modification of automatic behaviors to acquire new information through association process (Brain, 2015). For instance, a dog that salivates upon sight of food and its trainer who brings it food. Here, food (unconditioned stimulus) evokes salivation (unconditioned response). The dog associates the trainer (conditioned stimulus) with food after a certain period, and finally, the trainer can evoke the dog’s response (salivation). The response then becomes a conditioned response because it is conditioned to the new stimulus (Brain, 2015).

Operant Conditioning Learning

This theory was coined by psychologist B.F. Skinner who described it as a learning method that that happens through consequences for behavior; thus, rewards or punishments. For instance, a laboratory rat that presses a green button and red button and in turn, it receives food pellet and an electric shock respectively. This implies that the green button rewards, unlike the red button that punishes.

The key constitutes of operant conditioning are:

Reinforcement. This is termed as something that intensifies or strengthens the behavior. There are two categories;

Positive reinforces-favorable outcomes after the behavior. For example, a reward or praise for doing something good.

Negative reinforces-removal unsuitable or unpleasant events after behavior display. For example, when your child stops crying suddenly after handing him a chocolate box, it’s a high chance you will give chocolate box when he cries again.

Punishment-is the demonstration of an unpleasant event that leads to behavior decrease. It comprises of positive punishment-involves weakening of the response. Example, slapping a child for misbehavior.

Negative-involves removal of outcome after the behavior. Example, refusing the child to access the video game after misbehavior.

Reinforcement Schedules

The schedules quicken the learning process, and they include the following;

Continuous reinforcement- involves presenting reinforcement once a response occurs. Learning always takes place quickly, low response rate and quick extinction when reinforcement is stopped.

Fixed-ratio schedules- characterized by reinforcement of responses only after a certain number of responses has taken place resulting in a partially steady rate of response (Talyzina, 1981).

Fixed-interval schedules- mode of partial reinforcement in which reinforcement takes place after a specific time interval has elapsed. Response rates are steady and go up but slow down immediately after delivering reinforcement.

Variable-ratio schedules-entail behavior reinforcement after unspecified response rates leads to a high rate of response and slow rates of extinction.

Variable interval schedule-this type of partial reinforcement schedule described by Skinner involves reinforcement delivery after a certain amount of time has ended. This also leads to high rate of response and slow rates of extinction (Talyzina, 1981).

Observational Learning

This is a learning method based on observation. Children grow slowly observing and paying attention to things people surrounding them (models) do and end up imitating them. The human memory is thought to reflect the working functionalities of the computer. It processes the information. The whole process of information processing flows as follows; sensory memory involves sensing of information and holding temporarily.  Selection attention is where the learner chooses which information to process ignoring the rest (Talyzina, 1981). Pattern recognition is the recognition and familiarization of the information. Short-term memory is where data is stored temporarily for a response or further processing.  Rehearsal and chunking- is repeating and collecting both ideas and numbers to initiate the encoding process. Encoding is the memorization of information about ideas and concepts. Long-term memory (permanent storehouse of data) and finally retrieval. Information is retrieved for understanding purposes.


Brain, C. (2015). Edexcel psychology: Student guide 2.

Talyzina, N. (1981). The psychology of learning: Theories of learning and programmed instruction. Moscow: Progress.



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