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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values or preferences. It may involve processing different types of information. Learning functions can be performed by different brain learning processes, which depend on the mental capacities of learning subject/agent, the type of knowledge which has to be acquitted, as well as on socio-cognitive and environmental circumstances [1].

The ability to learn is possessed by certain animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.

Human learning may occur as part of education or personal development. It may be goal-oriented and may be aided by motivation. The study of how learning occurs is part of neuropsychology, educational psychology, learning theory, and pedagogy.

Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals[2][3]. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. There is evidence for human behavioral learning prenatally, in which habituation has been observed as early as 32 weeks into gestation, indicating that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early on in development.[4]

Play has been approached by several theorists as the first form of learning. Children play, experiment with the world, learn the rules, and learn to interact. Vygotsky agrees that play is pivotal for children's development, since they make meaning of their environment through play.


Types of learning

Simple non-associative learning


In psychology, habituation is an example of non-associative learning in which there is a progressive diminution o behavioral response probability with repetition stimulus. It is another form of integration. An animal first responds to a stimulus, but if it is neither rewarding nor harmful the animal reduces subsequent responses. One example of this can be seen in small song birds - if a stuffed owl (or similar predator) is put into the cage, the birds initially react to it as though it were a real predator. Soon the birds react less, showing habituation. If another stuffed owl is introduced (or the same one removed and re-introduced), the birds react to it again as though it were a predator, demonstrating that it is only a very specific stimulus that is habituated to (namely, one particular unmoving owl in one place). Habituation has been shown in essentially every species of animal, including the large protozoan Stentor Coeruleus.[5]


Sensitization is an example of non-associative learning in which the progressive amplification of a response follows repeated administrations of a stimulus (Bell et al., 1995). An everyday example of this mechanism is the repeated tonic stimulation of peripheral nerves that will occur if a person rubs his arm continuously. After a while, this stimulation will create a warm sensation that will eventually turn painful. The pain is the result of the progressively amplified synaptic response of the peripheral nerves warning the person that the stimulation is harmful. Sensitization is thought to underlie both adaptive as well as maladaptive learning processes in the organism.

Associative learning

Associative learning is the process by which an element is learned through association with a separate, pre-occurring element. It is also referred to as classical conditioning.

Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. Operant conditioning is distinguished from Pavlovian conditioning in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of voluntary behavior. Discrimination learning is a major form of operant conditioning. One form of it is called Errorless learning.

Classical conditioning

The typical paradigm for classical conditioning involves repeatedly pairing an unconditioned stimulus (which unfailingly evokes a reflexive response) with another previously neutral stimulus (which does not normally evoke the response). Following conditioning, the response occurs both to the unconditioned stimulus and to the other, unrelated stimulus (now referred to as the "conditioned stimulus"). The response to the conditioned stimulus is termed a conditioned response. The classic example is Pavlov and his dogs. Meat powder naturally will make a dog salivate when it is put into a dog's mouth; salivating is a reflexive response to the meat powder. Meat powder is the unconditioned stimulus (US) and the salivation is the unconditioned response (UR). Then Pavlov rang a bell before presenting the meat powder. The first time Pavlov rang the bell, the neutral stimulus, the dogs did not salivate, but once he put the meat powder in their mouths they began to salivate. After numerous pairings of the bell, and then food the dogs learned that the bell was a signal that the food was about to come and began to salivate just when the bell was rang. Once this occurs the bell becomes the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the salivation to the bell is the conditioned response (CR).


Imprinting is the term used in psychology and ethology to describe any kind of phase-sensitive learning (learning occurring at a particular age or a particular life stage) that is rapid and apparently independent of the consequences of behavior. It was first used to describe situations in which an animal or person learns the characteristics of some stimulus, which is therefore said to be "imprinted" onto the subject.

Observational learning

The learning process most characteristic of humans is imitation; one's personal repetition of an observed behaviour, such as a dance. Humans can copy three types of information simultaneously: the demonstrator's goals, actions and environmental outcomes (results, see Emulation (observational learning)). Through copying these types of information, (most) infants will tune into their surrounding culture.


Play generally describes behavior which has no particular end in itself, but improves performance in similar situations in the future. This is seen in a wide variety of vertebrates besides humans, but is mostly limited to mammals and birds. Cats are known to play with a ball of string when young, which gives them experience with catching prey. Besides inanimate objects, animals may play with other members of their own species or other animals, such as orcas playing with seals they have caught. Play involves a significant cost to animals, such as increased vulnerability to predators and the risk of injury and possibly infection. It also consumes energy, so there must be significant benefits associated with play for it to have evolved. Play is generally seen in younger animals, suggesting a link with learning. However, it may also have other benefits not associated directly with learning, for example improving physical fitness.


Enculturation is the process by which a person learns the requirements of their native culture by which he or she is surrounded, and acquires values and behaviours that are appropriate or necessary in that culture.[6] The influences which as part of this process limit, direct or shape the individual, whether deliberately or not, include parents, other adults, and peers.[6] If successful, enculturation results in competence in the language, values and rituals of the culture.[6] (compare acculturation, where a person is within a culture different to their normal culture, and learns the requirements of this different culture).

Multimedia learning

The learning where learner uses multimedia learning environments (Mayer 2001). This type of learning relies on dual-coding theory (Paivio 1971).

e-Learning and Augmented Learning

Electronic learning or e-learning is a general term used to refer to Internet-based networked computer-enhanced learning. A specific and always more diffused e-learning is mobile learning (m-Learning), it uses different mobile telecommunication equipments, such as cellular phones.

When a learner interacts with the e-learning environment, it's called augmented learning. By adapting to the needs of individuals, the context-driven instruction can be dynamically tailored to the learner's natural environment. Augmented digital content may include text, images, video, audio (music and voice). By personalizing instruction, augmented learning has been shown to improve learning performance for a lifetime.[7]

Rote learning

Rote learning is a technique which avoids understanding the inner complexities and inferences of the subject that is being learned and instead focuses on memorizing the material so that it can be recalled by the learner exactly the way it was read or heard. The major practice involved in rote learning techniques is learning by repetition, based on the idea that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more it is repeated. Rote learning is used in diverse areas, from mathematics to music to religion. Although it has been criticized by some schools of thought, rote learning is a necessity in many situations.

Informal learning

Informal learning occurs through the experience of day-to-day situations (for example, one would learn to look ahead while walking because of the danger inherent in not paying attention to where one is going). It is learning from life, during a meal at table with parents, Play, exploring.

Formal learning

A depiction of the world's oldest continually operating university, the University of Bologna, Italy

Formal learning is learning that takes place within a teacher-student relationship, such as in a school system.

Nonformal learning

Nonformal learning is organized learning outside the formal learning system. For example: learning by coming together with people with similar interests and exchanging viewpoints, in clubs or in (international) youth organizations, workshops.

Non-formal learning and combined approaches

The educational system may use a combination of formal, informal, and non-formal learning methods. The UN and EU recognize these different forms of learning (cf. links below). In some schools students can get points that count in the formal-learning systems if they get work done in informal-learning circuits. They may be given time to assist international youth workshops and training courses, on the condition they prepare, contribute, share and can proof this offered valuable new insights, helped to acquire new skills, a place to get experience in organizing, teaching, etc.

In order to learn a skill, such as solving a Rubik's cube quickly, several factors come into play at once:

  • Directions help one learn the patterns of solving a Rubik's cube
  • Practicing the moves repeatedly and for extended time helps with "muscle memory" and therefore speed
  • Thinking critically about moves helps find shortcuts, which in turn helps to speed up future attempts.
  • The Rubik's cube's six colors help anchor solving it within the head.
  • Occasionally revisiting the cube helps prevent negative learning or loss of skill.

Tangential Learning

Tangential Learning is the process by which some portion of people will self-educate if a topic is exposed to them in something that they already enjoy such as playing an instrument like the guitar or playing the drums.

Dialogic Learning

Dialogic learning is the type of learning based on dialogue. Its conception is based on contributions of diverse disciplines.

Criticism of the concept of learning in traditional education

Learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without it being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant.[8][9][10]

Domains of Learning

The three domains[11] of learning are:

  • Cognitive - To recall, calculate, discuss, analyze, problem solve, etc.
  • Psychomotor - To dance, swim, ski, dive, drive a car, ride a bike, etc.
  • Affective - To like something or someone, love, appreciate, fear, hate, worship, etc.

These domains are not mutually exclusive. For example, in learning to play chess, the person will have to learn the rules of the game (cognitive domain); but he also has to learn how to set up the chess pieces on the chessboard and also how to properly hold and move a chess piece (psychomotor). Furthermore, later in the game the person may even learn to love the game itself, value its applications in life, and appreciate its history (affective domain).

Mathematical models of learning

For mathematical models of learning, see:

See also


  1. ^ Gadomski A.M. Application of System-Process-Goal Approach for description of TRIGA RC1 System. Proceedings of " 9th. European TRIGA Nuclear Reactor Users Conference ", Oct., 1986, Roma. Printed by GA Technologies, TOC-19, USA. 1987, also the ENEA Report RT TIB/88/2, 1988. - The IPK (Information, Preferences, Knowledge) model of the systemic meta-theory TOGA, Adam Maria Gadomski, 1993
  2. ^ Jungle Gyms: The Evolution of Animal Play
  3. ^ What behavior can we expect of octopuses?
  4. ^ Sandman, Wadhwa, Hetrick, Porto & Peeke. (1997). Human fetal heart rate dishabituation between thirty and thirty-two weeks gestation. Child Development, 68, 1031-1040.
  5. ^ Wood, D. C. (1988). Habituation in Stentor produced by mechanoreceptor channel modification. Journal of Neuroscience, 2254 (8).
  6. ^ a b c Grusec, Joan E.; Hastings, Paul D. "Handbook of Socialization: Theory and Research", 2007, Guilford Press; ISBN 1593853327, 9781593853327; at page 547.
  7. ^ Augmented Learning, Augmented Learning: Context-Aware Mobile Augmented Reality Architecture for Learning
  8. ^ Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg (2008), Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track (pdf) HTML. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  9. ^ Greenberg, H. (1987), "The Art of Doing Nothing," The Sudbury Valley School Experience. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  10. ^ Mitra, S. (2007) Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves (video – 20:59). Minimally Invasive Education, Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  11. ^ Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning

Other References


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Learning is the acquisition and development of memories and behaviors, including skills, knowledge, understanding, values, and wisdom. It is the goal of education, and the product of experience.


  • "Then let every one of us, being warned by this sentence of the angel, acknowledge that he as yet cleaves to first principles, or, at least, does not comprehend all those things which are necessary to be known; and that therefore progress is to be made to the very end of life: for this is our wisdom, to be learners to the end."
  • "The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any school of education I ever heard of, can be expressed in seven words: Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners."
    • John Holt, in 'Growing Without Schooling' magazine #40
  • A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
    There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.
  • "The secret waits for eyes unclouded by longing."
    • Tao Te Ching
  • "It is the prowess of scholars that meetings bring delight and departures leave memories."
  • "Why does one stop learning till he dies when it makes all lands and place his?"


  • "Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." ~Abigail Adams, 1780
  • "A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did?' Don't do that.'" ~Douglas Adams
  • "The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it." ~Bayazid Bistami
  • "I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas." ~Agatha Christie
  • "I’ve known joy and sorrow, gladness in achieving a dream and the frustration that comes with failure. I’ve known what it is to feel like the world is falling around you and what it is to feel as though nothing could ever go wrong. I’ve known all these things and, while I’ve learned much from these experiences, I still haven’t learned all that I can about them." -A. Curry
  • "Just as eating against one's will is injurious to health, so study without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in." ~Leonardo Da Vinci
  • "When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." ~Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  • "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." ~Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  • "It's taken me all my life to learn what not to play." ~Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993)
  • "A man spends the first year of his life learning that he ends at his own skin, and the rest of his life learning that he doesn't" ~Saul Gorn
  • "Enlightenment is intimacy with all things." ~Jack Kornfield
  • "The adventure of knowledge is just as important as the knowledge of adventure." ~Delvin Lee
  • "If an angel were to tell us something of his philosophies, I do believe some of his propositions would sound like 2 x 2 = 13." ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • "To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand." ~José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955)
  • "First, master your instrument. Then forget all that #*$&%& and play!" ~Charlie Parker
  • "Sure, you might learn something new every day... but you'll never remember it all." ~Keelan Rantanen
  • "For every person who wants to teach there are approximately thirty who don't want to learn - much." ~W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
  • "Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose -- a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye." ~Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)
  • "My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself." ~George Bernard Shaw
  • "It is wisdom that is seeking for wisdom." ~Shunryu Suzuki
  • "The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life." ~Leo Tolstoy
  • "Education that consists in learning things and not the meaning of them is feeding upon the husks and not the corn." ~Mark Twain
  • "It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper understanding." ~Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
  • "At the moment you are most in awe of all there is about life that you don't understand, you are closer to understanding it than at any other time." ~Jane Wagner
  • "A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered 'How am I supposed to know?'
'How do you know? You're a Zen master!' exclaimed the samurai.
'Yes, but not a dead one,' Hakuin answered." ~Zen mondo
  • "The ten thousand questions are one question. If you cut through the one question, then the ten thousand questions disappear." ~Zen saying
  • "If you don't crack the shell, you can't eat the nut."
    • * Persian Proverb
  • To look for something meaningful is the begining of a life long search.
    • * Anonymous

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up learning in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Everybody has a different view/definition of what "learning" is. Some have a broader definition, some less broad. Regarding which definition/view one has, you must understand people here at Wikiversity. E.g. learning for some means a mental change and that then can mean: things that help to create a mental change are ok.


Learning is a broad and complex subject. This project intends to explore:

  • What is learning or what does learning mean to you?
  • Why learn or why do you learn?
  • How, when, where and why does learning happen?
  • How do people or you learn?
  • What helps people or you to learn?
  • What factors effect learning or effect how a person learns?
  • What learning techniques, methods, processes and systems exist?
  • What does learning disabled mean and are some people "learning disabled"?
  • Can educators be "teaching disabled"?
  • What does teaching disabled mean and are some people "teaching disabled"?
  • Is saying someone is "learning disabled" or "teaching disabled" morally or ethically right?
  • How can Wikiversity improve learning?
  • Should there be limits to what can be learned or how on Wikiversity?
  • Did you succeed so far in your learning goals at Wikiversity? If not, why not? Also drop a msg when you succeeded please.

See also


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Learning Theories article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Infobox/Learning Theories
Learning Theories/Print version
:media:Learning Theories.pdf



Organizational Learning
  • Contributions by Discipline
  • Triggers
  • Influencing Factors
  • Agents
  • Processes
  • Interorganizational
  • Practice
Knowledge Management
  • Challenges
  • Processes
  • Leadership
  • Change

See also

Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

To learn is to find and keep information in your brain (or mind).

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