Communicating Concepts

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Learning Acquisition

       It is the attention to the nature of learning inevitably leads to a positive educational environment. It isn't a simple as differences in how the process occurs or which are more or less effective. Learning can be viewed both as a product and as a process. There are theories of learning with competing ideas about how learning happens. In 2003 Alan Roger presented a helpful discussion of task consciousness or acquisition learning, and learning-conscious or formalized learning.

Learning as a product
       In the 1960s and 1970s, a standard psychology textbook defined learning as a change in behavior.  Learning was approached as an outcome or end product produced by some process. This approach focuses on a crucial aspect of learning - change. This may make some sense in conducting experiments. However, it is a blunt instrument. For example:
  • Does a person need to perform in order for learning to have happened?
  • Are there other factors that may cause behavior to change?
  • Can the change involved include the potential for change?
       In 1979 Säljö's research produced very useful results. In questioning adult students what they understood by learning. their responses fell into five main categories:
  1. Learning is a quantitative increase in knowledge. Learning is acquiring information.
  2. Learning is memorizing. Learning is storing information that can be reproduced.
  3. Learning is acquiring facts, skills, and methods that can be retained and used.
  4. Learning is making sense or abstracting meaning. Learning involves relating parts of the subject matter to each other and to the real world.
  5. Learning is interpreting and understanding reality in a different way. Learning involves comprehending the world by reinterpreting knowledge.

Task conscious or acquisition learning.
       Acquisition learning goes on all the time. It is confined to a specific activity rather than concerned with general principles. Examples include learning involved in parenting or with running a home. Some refer to this kind of learning as unconscious or implicit; however, it might be better to refer to it as having a consciousness of the task. The learner may not be conscious of learning occurring, they are aware of the activities of a specific task.

Learning-conscious or formalized learning.
       Formalized learning arises from facilitating the learning process. It is educational learning separate from the accumulation of experience. There is a consciousness of learning as people are aware that the task they are engaged in involves learning. Learning becomes a task. Formalized learning involves involves guided episodes of learning that makes learning more conscious process.

       It is clear that these contrasting ways of learning can appear in the same context. Both are present in schools. Both are present in families. It is possible to think of the mix of acquisition and formalized learning as forming a continuum.

Learning as a process - learning theory
        The focus on process obviously takes us into the realm of learning theories - ideas about how or why change occurs. The following links focus on four different orientations (the first three taken from Merriam and Caffarella 1991):

The behaviorist orientation to learning

The cognitive orientation to learning

The humanistic orientation to learning

Source - Infed.org

Factors that influence the acquisition of learning

        The ability to learn a new skill varies by virtue of the sheer determination, hard work and persistence of the individual. Other crucial factors influencing success are beyond the control of the learner. Such factors can be categorized as internal and external. There is a complex interplay that determines the speed and facility with which a new skill is learned.

Internal factors
        Internal factors are those that the individual language learner brings with him or her to the particular learning situation.

Age - Skill acquisition is influenced by the age of the learner. Children, who already have developed physical coordination are more likely to quickly acquire new physical skills. Very important to this process is their language and vocabulary development that impact their communications skills.

Personality - Introverted or anxious learners usually progress slower. More outgoing personalities will not worry about making mistakes. They will take risks, and thus will give themselves much more practice.

Motivation - Motivation has been found to correlate strongly with educational achievement. Clearly, students who enjoy learning and take pride in their progress will do better than those who don't.
 
Experiences - Individuals who have acquired general knowledge and experience are more likely to develop a skills than those who haven't.

Cognition - Generally students with greater cognitive abilities will progress faster progress.
External factors

External factors are associated with a particular learning situation:

Curriculum - It is important that the educational experience is appropriate and stimulating. Some students may require extra time or assistance to reach the desired level of proficiency.

Instruction - Some teachers and coaches have a natural interaction with the student and provide appropriate and effective learning experiences for their students. These students will make faster progress.
     
Culture and status - There is evidence that students bring preconceived conceptions from their culture that must be overcome to optimize their learning.

Motivation - Students need to be given continuing and appropriate encouragement at home and from their teacher/coach. Support from teachers and parents will allow students to fare better than those who lack this encouragement.

Access to positive examples - The opportunity to interact with others who have acquired the target skills is a significant advantage. These advanced individuals serve as models and provide encouragement that inspire other to set their goal higher that might ordinarily occur.


The fact that students learn a new skill slower or more quickly
than others should not be cause to believe that sometime is wrong
with either the teacher(s), parent(s), or the student(s).



Humans Increase their Knowledge and Skills Through a Process Described as Acquired Learning

        Humans, unlike most mammals, do not pass learning from one generation to another through a process described as instincts. Refer to Do humans have instincts? Insects and some other animals have short life spans or little capacity for learning , so most of their instincts are inherited.

        It is probable that most inherited or instinctive feelings were originally acquired by habit and the positive experience of their utility was maintained through genetic transfer.     Inherited Instinct : Abstract

Instinct - definition of instinct Instinct is an inherited tendency of an organism to behave in a certain way, usually in reaction to its environment and for the purpose of fulfilling a specific need. The development and performance of instinctive behavior does not depend upon the specific details of an individual's learning experiences.

Instead, instinctive behavior develops in the same way for all individuals of the same species or of the same sex of a species. For example, birds will build the form of nest typical of their species although they may never have seen such a nest being built before. Some butterfly species undertake long migrations to wintering grounds that they have never seen.

Behavior in animals often reflects the influence of a combination of instinct and learning. The basic song pattern of many bird species is inherited, but it is often refined by learning from other members of the species. Dogs that naturally seek to gather animals such as sheep or cattle into a group are said to have a herding instinct, but the effective use of this instinct by the dog also requires learning on the dog's part. Instinct, as opposed to reflex, is usually used of inherited behavior patterns that are more complex or sometimes involve a degree of interaction with learning processes.

Innate reflexes (biology)
        At birth infants display a set of inherited reflexes involving such acts as sucking, blinking, grasping, and limb withdrawal.

       A human baby require many years of being protected from danger circumstances and having its basic needs provided by a care giver.  During this time the evolving child is acquiring information about its environment through various sensor inputs such as:
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Sight
  • Sounds
  • Pain
  • Taste
      A child growing up a few centuries ago would have need to acquire specific skills in order to survive compared to those growing up in the Twenty-first century.

The Scientific Process of Learning
      A scientist will used a concept of developing a hypothesis, followed by a process of testing the hypothesis to prove and disprove it that an acceptable peer approved system that can be duplicated by other scientists. There are many distinct forms of hypotheses:
  • Acquisition learning hypothesis
  • Input hypothesis
  • Monitor hypothesis
  • Affective filter
  • Natural order hypothesis.
Learning Through Trial and Error
        When learning material that is very conceptual, those individuals who can make a meaningful relationship between their errors and remembering the correct information can actually be quite beneficial to the learning process.

        Science Daily (March. 25, 2009) — Learning through trial and error often requires subjects to establish new physiological links by using information about trial outcome to strengthen correct responses or modify incorrect responses. New findings, which appear in the latest issue of the journal Neuron, establish a physiological measure linking trial outcome and learning.
 
Problems and Solutions

Understanding the theory of Trial and Error Learning process Indeed many forms of human learning, particularly the learning of sensory- motor skills, are achieved through trial-and-error. Learning to walk, to swim, or to ride a bike.

Psychology: The Basics of Trial and Error Learning May 8, 2012 Through trial and error learning, children learn that throwing a tantrum resulted in receiving candy. She is more likely to repeat the behavior of throwing a tantrum.

How the Brain Learns Through Trial and Error - Research.gov Through trial and error feedback, the participants learn a specific sequence of correct doors to successfully exit the house.
 
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Learning Considerations
PDF  Attentional Focus
PDF  Spatial Disorientation
PDF  Effects of Mood on Performance
PDF  Confidence through Motivation
PDF  Transfer of Learning Issues

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