Learning & its Types-Classical, Operant, Cognitive Learning

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Learning & its Types-Classical, Operant, Cognitive Learning is open for . The scholarship allows level programm(s) in the field of taught at . The deadline of the scholarship is .


Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior brought about by experience.

Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior and the frequency of its occurrence, this change is not automatic and is brought about by experience or practice.

Most of the times people consider learning and maturation as the same but in reality, they are different. An example would clarify their difference. We usually observe that children become good tennis players as they grow up because it needs a lot of strength and stamina, i.e. as they get mature, they become good players. But best players are those who practice a lot and have experience, i.e. with practice they learn from their mistakes and they do not repeat their mistakes. In the same way, if a strong side looses a match on a single day, it does not mean that they have “unlearned” how to play good.

On the basis of content, learning can be achieved through verbal, motor or Problem solving techniques. Verbal learning involves a person’s verbal skills which are mostly used in learning a language. Motor learning involves a person’s physical strength to perform physical activities e.g. playing tennis, cricket, football, technical trainings etc. Problem solving involves trial and error or argumentation and discussion to solve a problem.

The first logical experiment on learning was performed by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist. He performed an experiment in 1927 which led to the discovery of a phenomenon, which he called Classical Conditioning. He also received Nobel Prize in 1904.

Types of Learning:

Learning can be divided into three main types
1.    Classical Conditioning
2.    Operant conditioning
3.    Cognitive learning
3.1.    Latent Learning
3.2.    Observational Learning

1.    Classical Conditioning:

A type of learning in which a neutral stimulus when paired with an unconditioned stimulus starts generating the same response as that generated naturally by an unconditioned stimulus and becomes conditioned is called classical conditioning.

  • Experiment:

Ivan Pavlov performed an experiment to explain the phenomenon of classical conditioning. He attached a tube with the salivary gland of a dog to measure the amount of saliva. He used to ring a bell (neutral stimulus) and then give food (unconditioned stimulus) to the dog under observation. In the initial days, the dog salivated at food only. But when the experiment was repeated for multiple days, he observed that the dog salivated (conditioned response) at the ring only. In other words, we can say that neutral stimulus (ringing bell) has become a conditioned stimulus.

  • Applications of Classical Conditioning:

The concept of classical conditioning occur in emotional responses e.g. associating pleasure with friend’s house because you feel relax over there, advertising e.g. associating a beautiful lady with beauty soaps , associating relaxation with coffee, tea or smoking, post –traumatic disorders, psychotherapy etc.

2.    Operant conditioning:

A type of learning in which the probability of occurrence of preceding behavior is increased or decreased, depending upon favorable or unfavorable consequences of the behavior. Favorable consequences lead to reinforcement of behavior whereas unfavorable consequences lead to punishments.
Principles or stages involved in operant conditioning are reinforcement, punishment, shaping, generalization and discrimination explained in article Operant Conditioning and its principles.

  • B.F Skinner’s Experiment:

An experiment was performed by B. F Skinner under a highly controlled environment to study operant conditioning. A rat was kept inside a box known as skinner’s box, which had a controlled environment. Food packet was placed outside the box. Getting of food packet was associated with pressing of lever inside the box. The rat accidently pressed lever and the food was presented. After a number of repetitions, the rat learned that getting of food was associated with the pressing of lever. Thus whenever the rat wanted to have food packet, she pressed the lever. Skinner called this reinforcement.

  • Applications of Operant Conditioning:

The concept of Operant conditioning occurs in classroom management, shaping behavior, teaching of skills, therapies etc.

3.    Cognitive Approach to Learning:

An approach of learning that focus on thought processes that underlie learning. Cognitive approach is different from classical and operant conditioning which primarily focus on external thoughts whereas cognitive approach focuses on internal thoughts of a person.

3.1) Latent Learning:

A type of cognitive learning in which a new behavior is learned but is not shown until some incentive or reward is given for showing it is called latent learning.

  • Experiment on latent learning:

An experiment was performed to study the concept of latent learning in which the rats were divided into three different groups. These three groups were trapped in a maze. The first group on finding exit of maze was not rewarded with food at the end of the day. This group had the highest error rate and was slow in learning. The second group was rewarded with food from the very first day of the experiment.  This group had the fewest error rates. The third group was not rewarded with anything for the first ten days but after that i.e. from eleventh day, they were rewarded with food at the end of finding exit and they had a fast rate of learning and declining error rate.

3.2) Observational Learning:

A type of learning which is learned through imitation or by observing others is called observational learning. It is also called social cognitive approach because it is based on observing the behavior of others.

  • Examples:

In most of the schools, laboratory experiments are learned by the students after observing their teacher. Hair cutting is learned through observing the master. Similarly cooking, driving etc are learned through observational learning.

Degree Level:

Learning & its Types-Classical, Operant, Cognitive Learning is available to undertake level programs at .

Available Subjects:

Following subject are available to study under this scholarship program.


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