Share
Explore BrainMass

Discussing the Concept of Learning

Assist with writing ideas for a paper in which you examine the concept of learning. Address the following items:

- Describe the concept of learning.
- Distinguish between learning and performance.
- Compare and contrast the conceptual approaches to the study of learning.

Your paper should include at least three references from scientific sources no more than 10 years old.

Solution Preview

Describe the Concept of Learning and Compare and Contrast Theoretical Approaches:
(you can't do the first without also doing the second)

There is no one accepted definition of "learning." Nor is there of logic, knowledge or reason. These are all contested terms. A minimally useful definition is that learning is a process that, ideally, should lead to the storage of ideas that are true and useful. The concept of recall is inherent in that of storage. Storing knowledge in the brain is useless unless it can be made use of. Useless things are not knowledge, nor are false things. They are ideas in that knowledge and learning are not physical things that can be touched. They are conceptual. The existence of an electronic impulse in the brain is not the skill or fact itself. It is a byproduct of it.

It requires a leap of understanding to hold conditioning and learning to be the same. Behaviorism holds to this. If conditioning is learning, then so is brainwashing. If conditioning is learning, then if we were fed electrical impulses into our brain that creates images artificially, that too would be learning and hence, knowledge. The fact that the objects artificially elicited do not exist is entirely irrelevant. So as to avoid absurdity, conditioning is not the same as learning. When something is done according to muscle memory, it is not knowledge, not unless one wants to argue that the heartbeat is a form of knowledge.

Behaviorists holds that facts do not exist, only associations do. If associated ideas recall each other in a chain, there is no truth claim, only that the causal chain (for whatever reason) exists. Biology approaches stress the survival nature of different aspects of true data, or that true is the same as "that which permits the organism to survive and flourish." This is the instinct that provides the motivation.

In both of these cases, "learning" should be used with quotes. Associationism is a reflexive impulse between two pieces of information that need not have any relation to one another. The biological or evolutionary view depends on a sort of determinism that usually argues that concepts in our mind exists because they are necessary for survival. Learning is really a mode of grasping and practicing the actions, beliefs and thoughts that serve to perpetuate the species. Yet, since truth is not present here, it might not be learning per se.

The older rationalist and cognitive approach defines learning as that which leads to the subjective awareness of both clear and discrete (or distinct) ideas. One way to rationalize this is that learning can occur only by reference to its end product. This seems uncontroversial. The concept is that, given any object, the learning process is only truly such when it ends up including a single idea of that object which contains each and every relevant feature thereof. By "relevant" one can substitute "essential."

If you have an idea of an object that only deals with surface qualities, then the process whereby you came to that superficial conclusion is not learning. It might ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses the concept of learning.

$2.19