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Definition of Learning

Textbook definitions of learning look nothing like dictionary definitions. From a Dictionary: To gain knowledge or understanding of, or skill in, by study, instruction, or investigation. Problems 1. Learning does not always involve a gain or benefit; for example, psychological disorders, prejudices, and maladaptive behaviors like procrastination.

Definition of Learning
Textbook definitions of learning look nothing like dictionary definitions. From a Dictionary: To gain knowledge or understanding of, or skill in, by study, instruction, or investigation. Problems 2. Learning is not always intentional. Incidental learning occurs without intent or instructions to remember the information later. For example... What did you have for breakfast today?

Definition of Learning
Textbook definitions of learning look nothing like dictionary definitions. From Textbooks: Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior, or behavior potential, that occurs as the result of practice or experience. Basic idea: To say that learning has taken place, we must observe a change in behavior. This behavioral change must meet two requirements:

Definition of Learning
Textbook definitions of learning look nothing like dictionary definitions. From Textbooks: Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior, or behavior potential, that occurs as the result of practice or experience. 1. Relatively permanent: to rule out behavioral changes that result from fatigue or motivational changes. EXCEPTION: Short-term memory. Information can be recalled up to 30 seconds after presentation without rehearsal. It was learned but not relatively permanent.

Definition of Learning
Textbook definitions of learning look nothing like dictionary definitions. From Textbooks: Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior, or behavior potential, that occurs as the result of practice or experience. 2. Produced by experience: to rule out changes that result from maturation (neuromuscular development). COMPLICATION: maturation usually works together with experience to change behavior. It speeds up the learning process.

Definition of Learning
Maturation vs. Learning: Classic Experiment by Carmichael
Do salamanders learn to swim?
Experimental Group Control Group

Salamander eggs were placed in chloretone solution, a chemical that prevents movement but permits normal growth.

Salamander eggs were placed in tap water.

Definition of Learning
Maturation vs. Learning: Classic Experiment by Carmichael
Do salamanders learn to swim?
Experimental Group Control Group

When salamanders in the Control group reached an age when they were swimming normally, the animals in the Experimental group were tested by placing them in tap water and waiting for the paralyzing chemical to wear off.

Definition of Learning
Maturation vs. Learning: Classic Experiment by Carmichael
If swimming results from maturation, the Experimental group should have started swimming as soon as the chemical wore off, even though they were deprived of the opportunity to practice swimming. The test started when the animals twitched when they were touched with a probe, indicating that they were no longer paralyzed.

Definition of Learning
Maturation vs. Learning: Classic Experiment by Carmichael
This experiment has been considered to be a clear example of maturation; it is said that the salamanders immediately started to swim normally.

But
On close examination, the results could be seen as evidence for either maturation or learning.

Definition of Learning
Maturation vs. Learning: Classic Experiment by Carmichael
Carmichael noted that from the first twitch until normal swimming occurred, there was a period of about 45 minutes in which the animals showed increasingly complex swimming movements. This could be seen as evidence for very rapid learning.

Or
It could be said the chemical was gradually wearing off and no learning occurred.

Definition of Learning
Maturation vs. Learning: Classic Experiment by Carmichael
It is hard to separate experience from maturation and say something is purely learned or purely genetic. Maturation is generally seen as preparing a species to learn a skill rapidly. In people, examples would be the development of walking and the learning of language.

Definition of Learning
Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior, or behavior potential, that occurs as the result of potential practice or experience. The term, behavior potential, is included because learning often takes place without immediately being shown in behavior. Instead, learning may create the potential for behavior change when the conditions are right, for example, when there is an incentive to perform the behavior.

Definition of Learning
Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior, or behavior potential, that occurs as the result of potential practice or experience. Learning that is hidden internally rather than shown in behavior is called latent learning.
Studies of latent learning support a distinction between learning, an internal process, and behavior or performance, an observable process. Learning is inferred from behavior but is not the same thing as behavior.

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
Three groups of rats were given practice trials in a maze, 1 trial per day. A trial started when the rat was placed in the Start box and ended when he entered the Goal box, after which he was removed from the maze. The maze consisted of a series of components shaped like the letter

T.

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
GOAL

When the rat went up the stem of the T, he reached a choice point. If he turned one way, he came to a dead end. If he turned the other way, he came to the entrance of the next component.

START

T T T T T T

...

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
GOAL

START

T T T T T T

Each time the rat turned into the dead end, it was counted as an error. The measure of performance (dependent variable) was the number of errors on a trial. If learning occurred, the number of errors should decrease as more and more trials were given.

...

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
GROUP 1: On every trial, these rats received food when they reached the goal box. GROUP 2: These rats never received food. They were simply removed from the maze when they got to the goal box.

GROUP 3: These rats got no food on Trials 1 to 10. But on Trial 11, and every trial afterwards, they received a food reward.

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
10 GR 1 GR 2 GR 3

Average Errors

The day-to-day decrease in errors represented a relatively permanent change in behavior that resulted from practice. This was clear evidence for learning. 1 10 11 17

Trials (1 Trial per Day)

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
Average Errors
10 GR 1 GR 2 GR 3

6 4 0 2 1

8 Group 2 got no food but still improved slightly. Removal from the maze was a small reward.

There was little evidence for learning.


10 11 17

Trials (1 Trial per Day)

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
Average Errors
10 GR 1 GR 2 GR 3

Getting no food on Trials 1 10, Group 3 performed like Group 2 through Trial 11. 1 10 11 17

Trials (1 Trial per Day)

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
Average Errors
10 GR 1 GR 2 GR 3

6 0 2 1 4

8 On the next trial, Group 3 matched Group 1, and then did even better! 10 11 17

Trials (1 Trial per Day)

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
Interpretation

Group 3 learned the route to the maze on Trials 1 to 10 but didnt show it because there was no motivation to perform. They outperformed Group 1 because the shift from no reward to reward made the reward seem larger by comparison. This is called positive contrast.

Definition of Learning
Latent Learning: A Classic Experiment (Tolman & Honzik, 1930)
Conclusion

We must observe a change in behavior to say that learning has occurred, but if no change occurs, we can draw no conclusion. Learning may be present beneath the surface.
This supports a distinction between learning and performance.