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J Early in the development of psychological ideas about learning William y limes had argued intuitively for the importance of associations in l determining what is remembered.
Knowledge could thus be efficiently assembled, like a brick wall, out of its component blocks. Yet the move from the experimental results on the behaviour of animals to general principles of learning in the classroom stretches buy a research paper cheap credibility more than a little. Skinner may have felt justified in this extrapolation through seeing important similarities between learning in animals and humans. But subsequent generations of students and teachers have found this view a wholly inadequate description of teaching and learning. Intelligence and individual differences Another important thread in the psychological study of learning has grown out of the early attempts of Spearman and buy a research paper cheap Pearson to investigate individual differences in the speed and efficiency of learning. Intelligence is an hypothetical construct — a way of explaining differences between intellectual performances. In France, Binet had been able buy a research paper cheap to distinguish between normal children and those who were considered to be ineducable, by means of a set of graded intellectual tasks involving memory, knowledge, and reasoning.
Again both a technology and an industry were born and, above all, out of the short-term consistency in IQ scores came beliefs both about its resistance to change and its general validity as an indicator of educational potential. Intelligence, it seems, can be viewed as a global or summary variable, containing elements of many subsidiary skills.
It is also modifiable, at least within limits: it is largely stable, but importantly variable.
Education and home environment can, and do, affect the levels of measured intelligence.
And people exhibit more intelligent behaviour in some aspects of their life than in others. Besides intelligence, other traits have been used to describe relatively Stable characteristics of individuals which may affect the speed or efficiency with which they learn. Unfortunately this crude mechanical analogy implies that the natural state Of the human body and brain is at rest or in uniform and unidirectional motion. This contradicts experience: differentiated activity is the waking norm of human behaviour.
In the more recent psychological literature, several distinct forms of motivation have been described (Entwistle, 1981). Competence motivation describes the positive orientation towards learning created by the repeated experience of luccessful learning activities. Extrinsic motivation describes the seeking after external reinforcement for learning, from school marks, grades, or qualifications. Intrinsic motivation takes two forms, one in which learning ll explained by interest and perceived relevance, and another generally described as achievement motivation, relies on a striving for success Which feeds on perceived success and boosted self-confidence. These forms of motivation are describing learning in terms of traits Which are the habitual forms of satisfaction derived by different people from their experiences of learning (see Kozeki, 1984). Of course, the Occasional experiences of low marks or failure may increase determina- tion, and some anxious people seem to go through their education, driven more by a fear of failure than by a hope for success. Cognitive structure and processes I More recent work on human memory has tried to describe how K f Information is processed, coded, and stored.
Psychologists such as Lindsay and Norman ( 1972 ) have described how conceptual hierarchies are developed.
Their models present the memory as involving logically ordered sets of 8 THE EXPERIENCE OF LEARNING concepts, stored in terms of increasing generality. But this emphasis on i the logical properties of concepts applied mainly to everyday objects whose defining features are readily deduced.
Abstract concepts, or those which have no agreed formal definitions, cannot be stored in this way. Abstract concepts are built up from a set of experiences which are only partially shared with others. Learning thus becomes a matter of constructing meaning. New informa- tion has to be interpreted in terms of prior knowledge and concepts which contain shared, and unique, shades of meaning. What a student learns can therefore be exactly what is taught only in relation to facts or formally defined concepts. Otherwise the student will necessarily acquire, and subsequently seek to communicate, an interpretation of knowledge which contains a personal aura of meaning in addition to the ideas the teacher was intending to present. Ausubel considers the distinction between rote learning (memoriza- tion) and meaningful learning to be important in education.
Even where meaningful learning is required by teachers or lecturers, I pupils (and students) may often use rote learning instead. Another reason is that because of a generally high level of anxiety or because of chronic failure experience in a given subject. He has come to believe that significant learning is possible only when the individual has self-confidence in his ability to learn and feels that the experience of buy a research paper cheap learning will be personally rewarding and meaningful. In his influential book Freedom to Learn, he is strongly critical of traditional approaches to teaching which foster competition and provide experiences of failure for many children. He condemns didactic or expository methods, unless they form part of an entirely different approach to education.
And above ill he wants to set the learner free from the type of experiences which Crush both curiosity and self-confidence. We frequently fail to recognize that much of the material presented to students in the classroom has, for the student, the same perplexing, meaningless quality that the list of nonsense syllables has for us. This is especially true for the under-privileged child whose back-ground provides no context for the material with which he is confronted. But nearly every student finds that large portions of his curriculum are for him, meaningless. Thus education becomes the futile attempt to learn material which has no personal meaning. No, the facilitation of lignificant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities which exist in the personal relationship between the facilitator and the learner. This view of learning has a richness, and immediacy of impact, which is lacking from the mainstream psychological research in learning.
Both views of learning are strongly felt and vigorously defended. Educational Research on Student Learning With the exception of the work reported in the last section, psychological help with filing divorce papers research on learning has been carried out in a laboratory setting or has made use of artificial or over-simple learning materials. Attempts at applying the theories derived from this research directly to classroom situations have not been particularly successful. Otherwise there can be little confidence placed in the utility of the theory.
Educational research workers have also approached student learning using contrasting perspectives and methodologies.