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Critical Thinking Essay on Knowledge and Application Goals

Knowledge and Application Goals

I have learnt four vital concepts from chapter 6 of the book, “Psychology from inquiry to understand”. These are classical conditioning, learning process, operant conditioning and habituation.  Learning refers to a process through which a person acquires new information or modification which reinforces the existing values, knowledge, behaviors, and skills. Human beings, some machines and animals have the ability and capacity to learn. The learning process is considered as being contextual rather than compulsory.

Usually, learning is a process which does not take place once. It builds on and is usually shaped by the prior knowledge of a person concerning phenomenon, events and things. Being a process, learning is not inclusive of a collection of procedural or factual knowledge. The learning process is very important in human beings and animals since it causes changes. These changes can be relatively permanent for both human beings and animals.

The learning process takes place in human beings in form of education, schooling, training and personal development. Under these situations, learning can be goal-oriented or facilitated by different types of motivation so that it can reinforce individual’s ability to get information. In both human beings and animals, learning takes place in different activities and forms that include playing. The learning process entails classical, habitation, operant and observational learning.

Habitual learning refers to a form of learning that includes the existing progressive diminution of the behavioral chances responses and repletion stimuli. Human beings and animals respond to stimulus first and this causes a reduction of succeeding responses on the basis of whether the stimulus is harmful or rewarding. For instance, this learning is usually observed from little songbirds. While in a cage, a stuffed owl starts by reacting as if there is a real predator. However, the reaction of the birds reduces with time. This indicates a form of habituation to a stimulus. When another owl is placed in a similar circumstance, it exhibits a similar behavioral response. Habituation learning is demonstrated in all species. Different organisms indicate significant behavioral responses when in such scenarios.

Conditioning or classical learning involves pairing neutral stimulus learnt previously that include the sound of a bell with unconditioned stimulus such as food. Unconditioned response triggers a reaction naturally as a response to unconditional response. When this neutral stimulus is associated with unconditioned stimuli, the bell sound alone can cause a response. The sound is therefore known as the conditioned stimulus because it triggers a response called the conditioned response.

Operant learning entails the use of punishment or reinforcement that decreases or increases a behavior in human beings or animals. Through conditioning or operant learning process, an association is established between a certain behavior and the consequence. For instance, when training a small dog to get a ball, every successful catch earns the dog a reward. Eventually, the dog establishes an association between being rewarded and catching a ball.

These concepts can be used in different ways. The learning process enhances the ability of a person to get new knowledge. Learning also facilitates the current and prior knowledge of a person in order to establish more and greater perspectives from information that they acquire with time. The learning process is permanent and it helps in remembering and keeping the acquired information. Habituation helps in learning some behaviors. Habits’ formation in action as well as behaviors enhances the learning process. When a habit is formed by an individual, it tends to be repeated over time. This increases the learning ability. Classical learning enhances the ability of a person to associate some life aspects. This facilitates the learning process via repeated behavior. Classical learning has a tendency to alter behaviors in human beings and animals. Operant learning is very important since it modifies the behaviors of a person through punishment and reward for certain behaviors. Operant learning facilitates the adoption of a desired response in human beings and animals. It also suppresses the undesired behaviors.

For instance, the concept of operant learning can be applied within a classroom in order to enable students to study hard so that they can pass in their exams. Rewarding students who perform better will motive them to keep performing better. Additionally, punishing poor performers stimulates them to work harder so that they can perform better and avoid being punished. Classical learning concept can also produce similar results. Students develop repeated responses when this concept is used. They tend to perform better since they associate being rewarded with studying. This association facilitates learning because students realize that if they work hard they will be rewarded.

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