NCERT Solutions for Class 11th: Ch 6 Learning Psychology 

Page No: 129

Review Questions

1. What is learning? What are its distinguishing features?


Learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour or behavioural potential produced by experience or practice.
Features of learning:
The first feature is that learning always involves some kinds of experience. Behavioural changes that occur due to learning are relatively permanent. Learning involves a sequence of psychological events.

2. How does classical conditioning demonstrate learning by association?


Classical conditioning demonstrate learning by association:
This type of learning was first investigated by Ivan P. Pavlov. He was primarily interested in the physiology of digestion. During his studies he noticed that dogs, on whom he was doing his experiments, started secreting saliva as soon as they saw the empty plate in which food was served. As you must be aware, saliva secretion is a reflexive response to food or something in the mouth. Pavlov designed an experiment to understand this process in detail in which dogs were used once again. In the first phase, a dog was placed in a box and harnessed. The dog was left in the box for some time. This was repeated a number of times on different days. In the meantime, a simple surgery was conducted, and one end of a tube was inserted in the dog’s jaw and the other end of the tube was put in a measuring glass.
In the second phase of the experiment, the dog was kept hungry and placed in harness with one end of the tube ending in the jaw and the other end in the glass jar. A bell was sounded and immediately thereafter food (meat powder) was served to the dog. The dog was allowed to eat it. For the next few days, every time the meat powder was presented, it was preceded by the sound of a bell. After a number of such trials, a test trial was introduced in which everything was the same as the previous trials except that no food followed the sounding of the bell. The dog still salivated to the sound of the bell, expecting presentation of the meat powder as the sound of bell had come to be connected with it. This association between the bell and food resulted in acquisition of a new response by the dog, i.e. salivation to the sound of the bell. This has been termed as conditioning. You may have noticed that all dogs salivate when they are presented with food. Food is thus an Unconditioned Stimulus (US) and salivation which follows it, an Unconditioned Response (UR). After conditioning, salivation started to occur in the presence of the sound of the bell. The bell becomes a Conditioned Stimulus (CS) and saliva secretion a Conditioned Response (CR). This kind of conditioning is called classical conditioning. The procedure is illustrated in Table 6.1. It is obvious that the learning situation in classical conditioning is one of S–S learning in which one stimulus (e.g., sound of bell) becomes a signal for another stimulus (e.g., food). Here one stimulus signifies the possible occurrence of another stimulus.

3. Define operant conditioning. Discuss the factors that influence the course of operant conditioning.


Conditioning of operant behaviour is called operant conditioning.
Factors that influence the course of operant conditioning:
Types of Reinforcement
Reinforcement may be positive or negative. Positive reinforcement involves stimuli that have pleasant consequences. They strengthen and maintain the responses that have caused them to occur. Positive reinforcers satisfy needs, which include food, water, medals, praise, money, status, information, etc. Negative reinforcers involve unpleasant and painful stimuli. Responses that lead organisms to get rid of painful stimuli or avoid and escape from them provide negative reinforcement. Thus, negative reinforcement leads to learning of avoidance and escape responses. For instance, one learns to put on woollen clothes, burn firewood or use electric heaters to avoid the unpleasant cold weather. One learns to move away from dangerous stimuli because they provide negative reinforcement. It may be noted that negative reinforcement is not punishment. Use of punishment reduces or suppresses the response while a negative reinforcer increases the probability of avoidance or escape response. For instance, drivers and co-drivers wear their seat belts to avoid getting injured in case of an accident or to avoid being fined by the traffic police. It should be understood that no punishment suppresses a response permanently. Mild and delayed punishment has no effect. The stronger the punishment, the more lasting is the suppression effect but it is not permanent. Sometimes punishment has no effect irrespective of its intensity. On the contrary, the punished person may develop dislike and hatred for the punishing agent or the person who administers the punishment.
Number of Reinforcement and other Features It refers to the number of trials on which an organism has been reinforced or rewarded. Amount of reinforcement means how much of reinforcing stimulus (food or water or intensity of pain causing agent) one receives on each trial. Quality of reinforcement refers to the kind of reinforcer. Chickpeas or pieces of bread are of inferior quality as compared with raisins or pieces of cake as reinforcer. The course of operant conditioning is usually accelerated to an extent as the number, amount, and quality of reinforcement increases.
Schedules of Reinforcement: A reinforcement schedule is the arrangement of the delivery of reinforcement during conditioning trials. Each schedule of reinforcement influences the course of conditioning in its own way; and thus conditioned responses occur with differential characteristics. The organism being subjected to operant conditioning may be given reinforcement in every acquisition trial or in some trials it is given and in others it is omitted. Thus, the reinforcement may be continuous or intermittent. Delayed Reinforcement The effectiveness of reinforcement is dramatically altered by delay in the occurrence of reinforcement. It is found that delay in the delivery of reinforcement leads to poorer level of performance. It can be easily shown by asking children which reward they will prefer for doing some chore. Smaller rewards immediately after doing the chore will be preferred rather than a big one after a long gap.

4. A good role model is very important for a growing up child. Discuss the kind of learning that supports it.


The children imitate their role models. They help in shaping how growing up children behaves in school, relationships or when making difficult decisions.  Children learn most of the social behaviours by observing and emulating them. The way to put on clothes, dress one’s hair, and conduct oneself in society is learned through observing them. Also children learn and develop various personality characteristics through observing role models. Aggressiveness, pro-social behaviour, courtesy, politeness, diligence, and indolence are acquired by observing them. Therefore, a good role model is very important for a growing up child.

5. Explain the procedures for studying verbal learning.


Each method is used to investigate specific questions about learning of some kind of verbal material. In the study of verbal learning, psychologists use a variety of materials including nonsense syllables, familiar words, unfamiliar words, sentences, and paragraphs.
(i) Paired-Associates Learning: This method is similar to S-S conditioning and S-R learning. It is used in learning some foreign language equivalents of mother tongue words. First, a list of paired-associates is prepared. The first word of the pair is used as the stimulus, and the second word as the response. Members of each pair may be from the same language or two different languages.

(ii) Serial Learning: This method of verbal learning is used to find out how participants learn the lists of verbal items, and what processes are involved in it. First, lists of verbal items, i.e. nonsense syllables, most familiar or least familiar words, interrelated words, prepared. The participant is presented the entire list and is required to produce the items in the same serial order as in the list. In the first trial, the first item of the list is shown, and the participant has to produce the second item. If s/he fails to do so within the prescribed time, the experimenter presents the second item. Now this item becomes the stimulus and the participant has to produce the third item that is the response word. If s/he fails, the experimenter gives the correct item, which becomes the stimulus item for the fourth word. This procedure is called serial anticipation method. Learning trials continue until the participant correctly anticipates all the items in the given order.
(iii) Free Recall: In this method, participants are presented a list of words, which they read and speak out. Each word is shown at a fixed rate of exposure duration. Immediately after the presentation of the list, the participants are required to recall the words in any order they can. Words in the list may be interrelated or unrelated. More than ten words are included in the list. The presentation order of words varies from trial to trial. This method is used to study how participants organise words for storage in memory. Studies indicate that the items placed in the beginning or end of the lists are easier to recall than those placed in the middle, which are more difficult to recall.

6. What is a skill? What are the stages through which skill learning develops?


Skill refers to the ability to carry out complex tasks efficiently. It passes through cognitive, associative and autonomous phases.
Skill learning passes through several qualitatively different stages. With each successive attempt at learning a skill, one’s performance becomes smoother and less effort demanding. According to Fitts, skill learning passes through three phases i.e. cognitive, associative and autonomous. Each phase or
stage of skill learning involves different types of mental processes.
• In the cognitive phase of skill learning, the learner has to understand and memorise the instructions, and also understand how the task has to be performed. In this phase, every outside cue, instructional demand, and one’s response outcome have to be kept alive in consciousness.
• The second phase is associative. In this phase, different sensory inputs or stimuli are linked with appropriate responses. As the practice increases, errors decrease, performance improves and time taken is also reduced. With continued practice, errorless performance begins, though, the learner has
to be attentive to all the sensory inputs and maintain concentration on the task.
• The third phase, i.e. autonomous phase has two important changes take place in performance: the attentional demands of the associative phase decrease, and interference created by external factors reduces. Finally, skilled performance attains automaticity with minimal demands on conscious effort.

Page No: 130

7. How can you distinguish between generalisation and discrimination?


When a learned response occurs or is elicited by a new stimulus, it is called generalisation.
Suppose an organism is conditioned to elicit a CR (saliva secretion or any other reflexive response) on presentation of a CS (light or sound of bell). After conditioning is established, and another stimulus similar to the CS (e.g., ringing of telephone) is presented, the organism makes the conditioned response to it. This phenomenon of responding similarly to similar stimuli is known as generalisation.
Discrimination is a response due to difference.
Suppose a child is conditioned to be afraid of a person with a long moustache and wearing black clothes. In subsequent situation, when s/he meets another person dressed in black clothes with a beard, the child shows signs of fear. The child’s fear is generalised. S/he meets another stranger who is wearing grey clothes and is clean-shaven. The child shows no fear. This is an example of discrimination. Occurrence of generalisation means failure of discrimination. Discriminative response depends on the discrimination capacity or discrimination of the organism.

8. How does transfer of learning takes place?


The term transfer of learning is often called transfer of training or transfer effect. It refers to the effects of prior learning on new learning. Transfer is considered to be positive if the earlier learning facilitates current learning. It is considered to be negative transfer if new learning is retarded. Absence of facilitative or retarding effect means zero transfer. Psychologists use specific experimental designs in the study of transfer effects. Want to know whether learning of English language affects learning of French. To study this you select a large sample of participants. Now you randomly divide the sample into two groups, one to be used in the experimental condition and the other as control group. The experimental group of participants learn English language for a year and is tested to find out their achievement in English. In the second year, they study French. In the end this group is tested to find out its achievement scores in French. The control group in the first phase does not learn English language and just does its routine work for one year. In the second year, these participants learn French for a year and their achievement scores are obtained. The achievement scores in French of the two groups are then compared. If the achievement score of the experimental group is higher than that of the control group, it implies that positive transfer has taken place. If the score is lower than the control group, it means negative transfer has taken place. If the two groups perform equally well, then it shows that transfer effect is zero.

9. Why is motivation a prerequisite for learning?


All living organisms have survival needs and human beings, in addition, have growth needs. Motivation is a mental as well as a physiological state, which arouses an organism to act for fulfilling the current need. In other words, motivation energises an organism to act vigorously for attaining some goal. Such acts persist until the goal is attained and the need is satisfied. Motivation is a prerequisite for learning. Why does a child forage in the kitchen when the mother is not in the house? S/he does so because s/he needs sweets to eat for which s/he is trying to locate the jar in which sweets are kept. During the course of foraging the child learns the location of the jar. A hungry rat is placed in a box. The animal forages in the box for food. Incidentally it presses a lever and food drops in the box. With repeated experience of such activity, the animal learns to press the lever immediately after the animal is placed there.

10. What does the notion of preparedness for learning mean?


Preparedness for Learning
The members of different species are very different from one another in their sensory capacities and response abilities. The mechanisms necessary for establishing associations, such as S-S or S-R, also vary from species to species. It can be said that species have biological constraints on their learning capacities. The kinds of S-S or S-R learning an organism can easily acquire depends on the associative mechanism it is genetically endowed with or prepared for. A particular kind of associative learning is easy for apes or human beings but may be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for cats and rats. It implies that one can learn only those associations for which one is genetically prepared.

11. Explain the different forms of cognitive learning?


In cognitive learning, there is a change in what the learner knows rather than what s/he does. This form of learning shows up in insight learning and latent learning.
In a normal experiment on insight learning, a problem is presented, followed by a period of time when no apparent progress is made and finally a solution suddenly emerges. In insight learning, sudden solution is the rule. Once the solution has appeared, it can be repeated immediately the next time the problem is confronted. Thus, it is clear that what is learned is not a specific set of conditioned associations between stimuli and responses but a cognitive relationship between a means and an end. As a result, insight learning can be generalised to other similar problem situations. Kohler demonstrated   experiments with chimpanzees that involved solving complex problems. Kohler placed chimpanzees in an enclosed play area where food was kept out of their reach. Tools such as poles and boxes were placed in the enclosure. The chimpanzees rapidly learned how to use a box to stand on or a pole to move the food in their direction. In this experiment, learning did not occur as a result of trial and error and reinforcement, but came about in sudden flashes of insight. The chimpanzees would roam about the enclosure for some time and then suddenly would stand on a box, grab a pole and strike a banana, which was out of normal reach above the enclosure. The chimpanzee exhibited what Kohler called insight learning.

12. How can we identify students with learning disabilities?


Learning disability is a general term. It refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested in terms of difficulty in the acquisition of learning, reading, writing, speaking, reasoning, and mathematical activities. The sources of such disorders are inherent in the child. It is presumed that these difficulties originate from problems with the functioning of the central nervous system. It may occur in conjunction with physical handicaps, sensory impairment, and intellectual disability or without them.

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