1.1 Human learning: Meaning, definition and concept formation

Initially, all learning comes from perceptions which are directed to the brain by one or more of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Psychologists have also found that learning occurs most rapidly when information is received through more than one sense.


The ability to learn is one of the most outstanding human characteristics. Learning occurs continuously throughout a person's lifetime. To define learning, it is necessary to analyze what happens to the individual. For example, an individual's way of perceiving, thinking, feeling, and doing may change as a result of a learning experience. Thus, learning can be defined as a change in behavior as a result of experience. This can be physical and overt, or it may involve complex intellectual or attitudinal changes which affect behavior in more subtle ways. In spite of numerous theories and contrasting views, psychologists generally agree on many common characteristics of learning.

Gates- “ Learning is the modification of behaviour through experiences.

Crow and Crow- “Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge and attitudes. It involves new ways of doing things, and it operates in an individual’s attempts to overcome obstacles or to adjust to new situations. It represents progressive change in behaviour. It enable to satisfy interests or to attain goals”.

Nature and Characteristics of Learning

·        Learning is the change in behaviour.

·        Change in behaviour caused by learning is relatively permanent.

·        Learning is a continuous life long process.

·        Learning is a universal process.

·        Learning is purposive and goal directive.

·        Learning involves reconstruction of experiences.

·        Learning is the product of activity and environment.

·        Learning is transferable from one situation to another.

·        Learning helps in the proper growth and development.

·        Learning helps in the balanced development of the personality.

·        Learning helps in the attainment of teaching- learning objectives.

·        Learning helps in proper adjustment.

·        Learning helps in the realization of goals of life.

·        Learning does not necessarily imply improvement.

·        Learning helps in bringing desirable changes in behaviour.

·        Leaning is a very comprehensive process possessing a quite wide scope.



Factors Influencing Learning

A. Learner related factors

1.     Learner’s physical and mental health.

2.     The basic potential of the learner

3.     The level of aspiration and achievement motivation

4.     Goals of life

5.     Readiness and will power

B. Teacher related factors

1.     Mastery over the subject matter

2.     Art and skills of teaching

3.     Personality traits and behaviour of the teacher

4.     Level of adjustment and mental health of the teacher

5.     Type of discipline and interaction maintained by the teacher

C. Contents Related Factors

1.     Nature of the contents of learning experience

2.     Selection of the contents or learning experiences

3.     Organization of the contents or learning experiences

D. Process Related Factors

1.     Methodology of providing learning experiences

Such as- Linking of new learning with the past, Correlating the learning in one areas to the other, utilization of maximum number of senses, provision of revision and practice work, provision of proper feed back and reinforcement, psychological methods and techniques.

2.     Teaching –Learning Environment and Resources

Such as - The Socio- emotional climate, Availability of appropriate learning material and facilities, proper conductive environment and learning situations.

Concept formation

Concept are like mental representations that, in their simplest form, can be expressed by a single word, such as plant of animal, alive or dead, table or chair, apple or oranges (e.g. Carey 2000). Concept may also represent a set of ideas that can be described by a few words. Through the use of language individual concepts can be connected to build more complex representational structures. Like for example “babies crawl” or birds fly”. At other times two concepts can be: density”. Which is the ‘matter’ per “volume”. i.e. a concept that stands in itself but is a product of two other concepts. Through the use of language, we can thus create new concepts that can stand by themselves. More complex concept can describe a whole idea, like for example” the theory of natural selection”. Similarly, though the use of math, we can build somewhat more abstract theories that in the end up representing one idea, like for example “big bang model of the universe”. In the words, within a particular representational structure. Concepts help us make deductions and explain even more complex ideas. Concept can thus act like building blocks of more complex or even abstract representations.



1.2 Learning theories: - Behaviourism: Pavlov, Thorndike, Skinner - Cognitivism: Piaget, Bruner - Social Constructism: Vygotsky, Bandura

Learning theory may be described as a body of principles advocated by psychologists and educators to explain how people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes. Various branches of learning theory are used in formal training programs to improve and accelerate the learning process. Key concepts such as desired learning outcomes, objectives of the training, and depth of training also apply. When properly integrated, learning principles, derived from theories, can be useful to aviation instructors and developers of instructional programs for both pilots and maintenance technicians.

Over the years, many theories have attempted to explain how people learn. Even though psychologists and educators are not in complete agreement, most do agree that learning may be explained by a combination of three basic approaches: behaviorism, cognitive theories and the social constructivism.


Is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. - also known as Behavioral Psychology. Learning: acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behavior, skills, values or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.

Learning is a process of progressive behaviour adaptation. –B.F Skinner

·        Learning by association or Classical Conditioning

·        Learning by consequences or Operant Conditioning.

·        Learning through Observation or Modeling

Pavlov: Classical Conditioning

·        Classical conditioning is a reflexive or automatic type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus.

·        Classical conditioning is a form of learning whereby a conditioned stimulus becomes associated with an unrelated unconditioned stimulus, in order to produce a behavioral response known as a conditioned response.


·        Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936)

·        John B. Watson (1878 – 1958)

Key Concepts

Several types of learning exist. The most basic form is associative learning, i.e., making a new association between events in the environment. There are two forms of associative learning: classical conditioning (made famous by Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs) and operant conditioning.
Pavlov’s Dogs

In the early twentieth century, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov did Nobel prize-winning work on digestion. While studying the role of saliva in dogs’ digestive processes, he stumbled upon a phenomenon he labeled “psychic reflexes.” While an accidental discovery, he had the foresight to see the importance of it. Pavlov’s dogs, restrained in an experimental chamber, were presented with meat powder and they had their saliva collected via a surgically implanted tube in their saliva glands. Over time, he noticed that his dogs who begin salivation before the meat powder was even presented, whether it was by the presence of the handler or merely by a clicking noise produced by the device that distributed the meat powder.

Fascinated by this finding, Pavlov paired the meat powder with various stimuli such as the ringing of a bell. After the meat powder and bell (auditory stimulus) were presented together several times, the bell was used alone. Pavlov’s dogs, as predicted, responded by salivating to the sound of the bell (without the food). The bell began as a neutral stimulus (i.e. the bell itself did not produce the dogs’ salivation). However, by pairing the bell with the stimulus that did produce the salivation response, the bell was able to acquire the ability to trigger the salivation response. Pavlov therefore demonstrated how stimulus-response bonds (which some consider as the basic building blocks of learning) are formed. He dedicated much of the rest of his career further exploring this finding.

In technical terms, the meat powder is considered an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) and the dog’s salivation is the unconditioned response (UCR). The bell is a neutral stimulus until the dog learns to associate the bell with food. Then the bell becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) which produces the conditioned response (CR) of salivation after repeated pairings between the bell and food.

John B. Watson: Early Classical Conditioning with Humans

John B. Watson further extended Pavlov’s work and applied it to human beings. In 1921, Watson studied Albert, an 11 month old infant child. The goal of the study was to condition Albert to become afraid of a white rat by pairing the white rat with a very loud, jarring noise (UCS). At first, Albert showed no sign of fear when he was presented with rats, but once the rat was repeatedly paired with the loud noise (UCS), Albert developed a fear of rats. It could be said that the loud noise (UCS) induced fear (UCR). The implications of Watson’s experiment suggested that classical conditioning could cause some phobias in humans.

Image result for pavlov behaviour theory with the help of pictures

Five key principles of classical conditioning:

1. Acquisition

Acquisition is the initial stage of learning when a response is first established and gradually strengthened. During the acquisition phase of classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with an unconditioned stimulus. As you may recall, an unconditioned stimulus is something that naturally and automatically triggers a response without any learning. After an association is made, the subject will begin to emit a behavior in response to the previously neutral stimulus, which is now known as a conditioned stimulus. It is at this point that we can say that the response has been acquired.

For example, imagine that you are conditioning a dog to salivate in response to the sound of a bell. You repeatedly pair the presentation of food with the sound of the bell. You can say the response has been acquired as soon as the dog begins to salivate in response to the bell tone.

Once the response has been established, you can gradually reinforce the salivation response to make sure the behavior is well learned.

2. Extinction

Extinction is when the occurrences of a conditioned response decrease or disappear. In classical conditioning, this happens when a conditioned stimulus is no longer paired with an unconditioned stimulus.

For example, if the smell of food (the unconditioned stimulus) had been paired with the sound of a whistle (the conditioned stimulus), it would eventually come to evoke the conditioned response of hunger. However, if the unconditioned stimulus (the smell of food) were no longer paired with the conditioned stimulus (the whistle), eventually the conditioned response (hunger) would disappear.

3. Spontaneous Recovery

Sometimes a learned response can suddenly reemerge even after a period of extinction. Spontaneous Recovery is the reappearance of the conditioned response after a rest period or period of lessened response. For example, imagine that after training a dog to salivate to the sound of a bell, you stop reinforcing the behavior and the response eventually becomes extinct. After a rest period during which the conditioned stimulus is not presented, you suddenly ring the bell and the animal spontaneously recovers the previously learned response.

If the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus are no longer associated, extinction will occur very rapidly after a spontaneous recovery.

4. Stimulus Generalization

Stimulus Generalization is the tendency for the conditioned stimulus to evoke similar responses after the response has been conditioned. For example, if a dog has been conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, the animal may also exhibit the same response to stimuli that are similar to the conditioned stimulus. In John B. Watson's famous Little Albert Experiment, for example, a small child was conditioned to fear a white rat. The child demonstrated stimulus generalization by also exhibiting fear in response to other fuzzy white objects including stuffed toys and Watson own hair.

5.  Stimulus Discrimination

Discrimination is the ability to differentiate between a conditioned stimulus and other stimuli that have not been paired with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if a bell tone were the conditioned stimulus, discrimination would involve being able to tell the difference between the bell tone and other similar sounds. Because the subject is able to distinguish between these stimuli, he or she will only respond when the conditioned stimulus is presented.


Edward Thorndike: trial and error

Edward Thorndike (1874 - 1949) is famous in psychology for his work on learning theory that lead to the development of operant conditioning within behaviorism.

Whereas classical conditioning depends on developing associations between events, operant conditioning involves learning from the consequences of our behavior.  Skinner wasn’t the first psychologist to study learning by consequences.  Indeed, Skinner's theory of operant conditioning is built on the ideas of Edward Thorndike.

He placed a cat in the puzzle box, which was encourage to escape to reach a scrap of fish placed outside.  Thorndike would put a cat into the box and time how long it took to escape.  The cats experimented with different ways to escape the puzzle box and reach the fish. Eventually they would stumble upon the lever which opened the cage.  When it had escaped it was put in again, and once more the time it took to escape was noted.  In successive trials the cats would learn that pressing the lever would have favorable consequences and they would adopt this behavior, becoming increasingly quick at pressing the lever.

Edward Thorndike put forward a “Law of effect” which stated that any behavior that is followed by pleasant consequences is likely to be repeated, and any behavior followed by unpleasant consequences is likely to be stopped.

·        The law of effect states that responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again, while responses that produce a discomforting effect are less likely to be repeated.

·        The law of effect is at work in every human behavior as well. From a young age, we learn which actions are beneficial and which are detrimental through a similar trial and error process.


·        Law of Readiness:- First primary law of learning, according to him, is the ‘Law of Readiness’ or the ‘Law of Action Tendency’, which means that learning takes place when an action tendency is aroused through preparatory adjustment, set or attitude. Readiness means a preparation of action. If one is not prepared to learn, learning cannot be automatically instilled in him, for example, unless the typist, in order to learn typing prepares himself to start, he would not make much progress in a lethargic & unprepared manner.

·        Law of Exercise:- The second law of learning is the ‘Law of Exercise’, which means that drill or practice helps in increasing efficiency and durability of learning and according to Throndike’s S-R Bond Theory, the connections are strengthened with trail or practice and the connections are weakened when trial or practice is discontinued. The ‘law of exercise’, therefore, is also understood as the ‘law of use and disuse’ in which case connections or bonds made in the brain cortex are weakened or loosened. Many examples of this case are found in case of human learning. Learning to drive a motor-car, typewriting, singing or memorizing a poem or a mathematical table, and music etc. need exercise and repetition of various movements and actions many times.

·        Law of Effect:- The third law is the ‘Law of Effect’, according to which the trial or steps leading to satisfaction stamps in the bond or connection. Satisfying states lead to consolidation and strengthening of the connection, whereas dis-satisfaction, annoyance or pain lead to the weakening or stamping out of the connection. In fact, the ‘law of effect’ signifies that if the response satisfy the subject, they are learnt and selected, while those which are not satisfying are eliminated. Teaching, therefore, must be pleasing. The educator must obey the tastes and interests of his pupils. In other words, greater the satisfaction stronger will be the motive to learn. Thus, intensity is an important condition of ‘law of effect’.

Besides these three basic laws, Throndike also refer to five subordinate laws which further help to explain the learning process. These are-

·        Law of Multiple – Response- According to it the organism varies or changes its response till an appropriate behaviour is hit upon. Without varying the responses, the correspondence for the solution might never be elicited. If the individual wants to solve a puzzle, he is to try in different ways rather than mechanically persisting in the same way. Throndike’s cat in the puzzle box moved about and tried many ways to come out till finally it hit the latch with her paw which opened the door and it jumped out.

·        The Law of Set or Attitude- Learning is guided by a total set or attitude of the organism, which determines not only what the person will do but what will satisfy or annoy him. For instance, unless the cricketer sets himself to make a century, he will not be able to score more runs. A student, similarly, unless he sets to get first position and has the attitude of being at the top, would while away the time and would not learn much. Hence, learning is affected more in the individual if he is set to learn more or to excel.

·        Pre- potency of Elements:- According to this law, the learner reacts selectively to the important or essential in the situation and neglects the other features or elements which may be irrelevant or non- essential. The ability to deal with the essential or the relevant part of the situation, makes analytical and insightful learning possible. In this law of pre-potency of elements, Thorndike is really anticipating insight in learning which was more emphasized by the Gestaltions.

·        Law of  Response by Analogy- According to this law, the individual makes use of old experiences or acquisitions while learning a new situation. There is a tendency to utilise common elements in the new situation as existed in a similar past situation. The learning of driving a car, for instance, is facilitated by the earlier acquired skill of driving a motor cycle or even riding a bicycle because the perspective or maintaining a balance and controlling the handle helps in stearing the car.

·        The Law of Associative Shifting- According to this law we may get an response, of which a learner is capable, associated with any other situation to which he is sensitive. Thorndike illustrated this by the act of teaching a cat to stand up at a command. A fish was dangled before the cat while he said ‘ stand up’. After a number trails by presenting the fish after uttering the command ‘stand up’, he later ousted the fish and the over all command of ‘stand up’ was found sufficient to evoke the response in the cat by standing up or her hind legs.

Principles of Thorndike’s learning

·        Learning involves trial and error or selection and connection.

·        Learning is a result of formation or connection.

·        Learning is an incremental not insight.

·        Learning is direct not mediated by ideas.


B.F Skinner: Classical and Operant Conditioning


A behaviorist theory based on the fundamental idea that behaviors that are reinforced will tend to continue, while behaviors that are punished will eventually end. Skinner is regarded as the father of Operant Conditioning, but his work was based on Thorndike’s (1905) law of effect. Skinner introduced a new term into the Law of Effect - Reinforcement.


·         Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) Skinner (1904 – 1990)

·         Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936)

Key Concepts

What is the difference between operant conditioning and classical conditioning? In operant conditioning, a voluntary response is then followed by a reinforcing stimulus. In this way, the voluntary response (e.g. studying for an exam) is more likely to be done by the individual. In contrast, classical conditioning is when a stimulus automatically triggers an involuntary response. Skinner (1948) studied operant conditioning by conducting experiments using animals which he placed in a 'Skinner Box' which was similar to Thorndike’s puzzle box.

Skinner Box illustration operant conditioning

In his first work with rats, Skinner would place the rats in a Skinner box with a lever attached to a feeding tube. Whenever a rat pressed the lever, food would be released. After the experience of multiple trials, the rats learned the association between the lever and food and began to spend more of their time in the box procuring food than performing any other action. It was through this early work that Skinner started to understand the effects of behavioral contingencies on actions. He discovered that the rate of response—as well as changes in response features—depended on what occurred after the behavior was performed, not before. Skinner named these actions operant behaviors because they operated on the environment to produce an outcome. The process by which one could arrange the contingencies of reinforcement responsible for producing a certain behavior then came to be called operant conditioning.

To prove his idea that behaviorism was responsible for all actions, he later created a "superstitious pigeon." He fed the pigeon on continuous intervals (every 15 seconds) and observed the pigeon's behavior. He found that the pigeon's actions would change depending on what it had been doing in the moments before the food was dispensed, regardless of the fact that those actions had nothing to do with the dispensing of food. In this way, he discerned that the pigeon had fabricated a causal relationship between its actions and the presentation of reward. It was this development of "superstition" that led Skinner to believe all behavior could be explained as a learned reaction to specific consequences.

B.F. Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly changing of behavior by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response.

Skinner identified three types of responses or operant that can follow behavior.

·        Neutral operants: responses from the environment that neither increase nor decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.

·        Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or negative.

·        Punishers: Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.


Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning can be described as a process that attempts to modify behavior through the use of positive and negative reinforcement. Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a particular behavior and a consequence.

·        Example 1: Parents rewarding a child’s excellent grades with candy or some other prize.

·        Example 2: A schoolteacher awards points to those students who are the most calm and well-behaved. Students eventually realize that when they voluntarily become quieter and better behaved, that they earn more points.

·        Example 3: A form of reinforcement (such as food) is given to an animal every time the animal (for example, a hungry lion) presses a lever.

The term “operant conditioning” originated by the behaviorist B. F. Skinner, who believed that one should focus on the external, observable causes of behavior (rather than try to unpack the internal thoughts and motivations)

Reinforcement comes in two forms: positive and negative.

Positive and negative reinforcers

·        Positive reinforcers are favorable events or outcomes that are given to the individual after the desired behavior. This may come in the form of praise, rewards, etc.

·        Negative reinforcers typically are characterized by the removal of an undesired or unpleasant outcome after the desired behavior. A response is strengthened as something considered negative is removed.

The goal in both of these cases of reinforcement is for the behavior to increase.

Positive and negative punishment

Punishment, in contrast, is when the increase of something undesirable attempts to cause a decrease in the behavior that follows.

·        Positive punishment is when unfavorable events or outcomes are given in order to weaken the response that follows.

·        Negative punishment is characterized by when an favorable event or outcome is removed after a undesired behavior occurs.

The goal in both of these cases of punishment is for a behavior to decrease.

Four Important Principles in Operant Conditioning

·        Principle of Immediacy: Verbal immediacy refers to calling on by the students or asks students how they feel about things. Non-verbal immediacy includes behaviors such as smiling, gesturing, moves around the class while teaching and having relaxed body language.

·        Principle of Deprivation/Satiation:

Deprivation: Not having access to something that is Deprivation: Not having access to something that is highly desirable.

Satiation - is the opposite of deprivation -refers to having too much

·        Principle of Contingency: a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.

·        Principle of Size: The cost-benefit" determinant of whether a consequence will be effective. If the size, or amount, of the consequence is large enough to be worth the effort, the consequence will be more effective upon the behavior.


Much of the recent psychological thinking and experimentation in education includes some facets of the cognitive theory. This is true in basic as well as more advanced training programs. Unlike behaviorism, the cognitive theory focuses on what is going on inside the student's mind. Learning is not just a change in behavior; it is a change in the way a student thinks, understands, or feels.

The term cognition is derived from the Latin word “cognoscere” which means “to know” or “to recognize” or “to conceptualize”.  It refers to the mental processes an organism learns, remembers, understands, perceives, solves problems and thinks about a body of information.

Piaget's Theory

Piaget's (1936) theory of cognitive development is about how a child constructs a mental model of the world. The goal of the theory is to explain the mechanisms and processes by which the infant, and then the child, develops into an individual who can reason and think using hypotheses.

There Are Three Basic Components To Piaget's Cognitive Theory:

Schemas (building blocks of knowledge): 'a cohesive, repeatable action sequence possessing component actions that are tightly interconnected and governed by a core meaning'.

Adaptation processes that enable the transition from one stage to another (equilibrium, assimilation and accommodation)

·        Assimilation: The process by which people translate incoming information into a form they can understand. Which is using an existing schema to deal with a new object or situation. A 2 year old child sees a man who is bald on top of his head and has long frizzy hair on the sides. To his father’s horror, the toddler shouts “Clown, clown”

·        Accommodation: The process by which people adapt current knowledge structures in response to new experiences. This happens when the existing schema (knowledge) does not work, and needs to be changed to deal with a new object or situation. In the “clown” incident, the boy’s father explained to his son that the man was not a clown and that even though his hair was like a clown’s, he wasn’t wearing a funny costume and wasn’t doing silly things to make people laugh.

·        Equilibration: The process by which people balance assimilation and accommodation to create stable understanding. Equilibrium occurs when a child's schemas can deal with most new information through assimilation. However, an unpleasant state of disequilibrium occurs when new information cannot be fitted into existing schemas (assimilation).

Stages of  Development:

1.    Sensorimotor stage (Infancy), from birth to age 2

Understands  world  through  senses and actions

The main achievement during this stage is object permanence - knowing that an object still exists, even if it is hidden.

It requires the ability to form a mental representation (i.e. a schema) of the object.

2.    Pre-operational stage (Toddler and early childhood), from age 2 to about age 7

Understands world  through language and mental images

During this stage, young children are able to think about things symbolically. This is the ability to make one thing - a word or an object - stand for something other than itself.

Thinking is still egocentric, and the infant has difficulty taking the viewpoint of others.

3.    Concrete operational stage(Elementary and early adolescence), from 7-11

Understands world  through  logical thinking and categories

Piaget considered the concrete stage a major turning point in the child's cognitive development, because it marks the beginning of logical or operational thought.

This means the child can work things out internally in their head (rather than physically try things out in the real world).

Children can conserve number (age 6), mass (age 7), and weight (age 9). Conservation is the understanding that something stays the same in quantity even though its appearance changes

4.    Formal operational stage (Adolescence and adulthood).

Understands world through hypothetical thinking and  scientific reasoning

The formal operational stage begins at approximately age eleven and lasts into adulthood. During this time, people develop the ability to think about abstract concepts, and logically test hypotheses.

Because Piaget's theory is based upon biological maturation and stages, the notion of 'readiness' is important. Readiness concerns when certain information or concepts should be taught. According to Piaget's theory children should not be taught certain concepts until they have reached the appropriate stage of cognitive development.

According to Piaget (1958), assimilation and accommodation require an active learner, not a passive one, because problem-solving skills cannot be taught, they must be discovered.

Therefore, teachers should encourage the following within the classroom:

·         Focus on the process of learning, rather than the end product of it.

·         Using active methods that require rediscovering or reconstructing "truths".

·         Using collaborative, as well as individual activities (so children can learn from each other).

·         Devising situations that present useful problems, and create disequilibrium in the child.

·         Evaluate the level of the child's development, so suitable tasks can be set.

Although Piaget's theory remains highly influential, some weaknesses are now apparent.

·        The stage model depicts children's thinking as being more consistent than it is.

·        Infants and young children are more cognitively competent than Piaget recognized.

·        Piaget's theory understates the contribution of the social world to cognitive development.

·        Piaget's theory is vague about the cognitive processes that give rise to children's thinking and about the mechanisms that produce cognitive growth.


Bruner's Theory of Cognitive Development

Bruner (1966) was concerned with how knowledge is represented and organized through different modes of thinking (or representation).

Three Stages of Representation

Jerome Bruner identified three stages of cognitive representation.

1.     Enactive, which is the representation of knowledge through actions.

2.     Iconic, which is the visual summarization of images.

3.     Symbolic representation, which is the use of words and other symbols to describe experiences.

The enactive stage appears first. This stage involves the encoding and storage of information. There is a direct manipulation of objects without any internal representation of the objects.

For example, a baby shakes a rattle and hears a noise. The baby has directly manipulated the rattle and the outcome was a pleasurable sound. In the future, the baby may shake his hand, even if there is no rattle, expecting his hand to produce the rattling sounds. The baby does not have an internal representation of the rattle and, therefore, does not understand that it needs the rattle in order to produce the sound.

The iconic stage appears from one to six years old. This stage involves an internal representation of external objects visually in the form of a mental image or icon. For example, a child drawing an image of a tree or thinking of an image of a tree would be representative of this stage.

The symbolic stage, from seven years and up, is when information is stored in the form of a code or symbol such as language. Each symbol has a fixed relation to something it represents. For example, the word 'dog' is a symbolic representation for a single class of animal. Symbols, unlike mental images or memorized actions, can be classified and organized. In this stage, most information is stored as words, mathematical symbols, or in other symbol systems.

Bruner believed that all learning occurs through the stages we just discussed. Bruner also believed that learning should begin with direct manipulation of objects. For example, in math education, Bruner promoted the use of algebra tiles, coins, and other items that could be manipulated.



1. Children are PRE-ADAPTED to learning

1. Development is a CONTINUOUS PROCESS – not a series of stages

2. Children have a NATURAL CURIOSITY

2. The development of LANGUAGE is a cause not a consequence of cognitive development

3. Children’s COGNITIVE STRUCTURES develop over time

3. You can SPEED-UP cognitive development. You don’t have to wait for the child to be ready

4. Children are ACTIVE participants in the learning process

4. The involvement of ADULTS and MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE PEERS makes a big difference

5. Cognitive development entails the acquisition of SYMBOLS


The Importance of Language: Language is important for the increased ability to deal with abstract concepts. Bruner argues that language can code stimuli and free an individual from the constraints of dealing only with appearances, to provide a more complex yet flexible cognition.

The use of words can aid the development of the concepts they represent and can remove the constraints of the “here & now” concept. Bruner views the infant as an intelligent & active problem solver from birth, with intellectual abilities basically similar to those of the mature adult.

Readiness: Bruner (1960) opposed Piaget's notion of readiness. He argued that schools waste time trying to match the complexity of subject material to a child's cognitive stage of development.

This means students are held back by teachers as certain topics are deemed too difficult to understand and must be taught when the teacher believes the child has reached the appropriate stage of cognitive maturity.

The Spiral Curriculum: Bruner (1960) explained how this was possible through the concept of the spiral curriculum. This involved information being structured so that complex ideas can be taught at a simplified level first, and then re-visited at more complex levels later on.

Therefore, subjects would be taught at levels of gradually increasing difficultly (hence the spiral analogy). Ideally, teaching his way should lead to children being able to solve problems by themselves.

Discovery Learning: Bruner (1961) proposes that learners construct their own knowledge and do this by organizing and categorizing information using a coding system. Bruner believed that the most effective way to develop a coding system is to discover it rather than being told by the teacher.

The concept of discovery learning implies that students construct their own knowledge for themselves (also known as a constructivist approach).

The role of the teacher should not be to teach information by rote learning, but instead to facilitate the learning process. This means that a good teacher will design lessons that help students discover the relationship between bits of information.

To do this a teacher must give students the information they need, but without organizing for them. The use of the spiral curriculum can aid the process of discovery learning.


Social constructivism is a variety of cognitive constructivism that emphasizes the collaborative nature of much learning. Social constructivism was developed by post-revolutionary Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky was a cognitivist, but rejected the assumption made by cognitivists such as Piaget and Perry that it was possible to separate learning from its social context. He argued that all cognitive functions originate in (and must therefore be explained as products of) social interactions and that learning did not simply comprise the assimilation and accommodation of new knowledge by learners; it was the process by which learners were integrated into a knowledge community. 

Social Development Theory argues that social interaction precedes development; consciousness and cognition are the end product of socialization and social behavior.

Lev Vygotsky’s Theory

Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory is the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)[1][2]. Vygotsky’s work was largely unkown to the West until it was published in 1962.

Vygotsky’s theory is one of the foundations of constructivism. It asserts three major themes regarding social interaction, the more knowledgeable other, and the zone of proximal development.

Social Interaction

Social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. In contrast to Jean Piaget’s understanding of child development (in which development necessarily precedes learning), Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development. He states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological)”.[2]

The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO)

The MKO refers to anyone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept. The MKO is normally thought of as being a teacher, coach, or older adult, but the MKO could also be peers, a younger person, or even computers.

The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

The ZPD is the distance between a student’s ability to perform a task under adult guidance and/or with peer collaboration and the student’s ability solving the problem independently. According to Vygotsky, learning occurred in this zone.

Vygotsky focused on the connections between people and the sociocultural context in which they act and interact in shared experiences. According to Vygotsky, humans use tools that develop from a culture, such as speech and writing, to mediate their social environments. Initially children develop these tools to serve solely as social functions, ways to communicate needs. Vygotsky believed that the internalization of these tools led to higher thinking skills.

Albert Bandura’s Theory

People learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. “Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” (Bandura). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences.

Necessary conditions for effective modeling

Attention — various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One’s characteristics (e.g. sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.

Retention — remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal

Reproduction — reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction.

Motivation — having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as past (i.e. traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model)

Reciprocal Determinism

Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, that is, the world and a person’s behavior cause each other, while behaviorism essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behavior[2], Bandura, who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic, and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well[3]. Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes (one’s ability to entertain images in minds and language).

Social learning theory has sometimes been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation.

Vygotsky as well as Bandura suggested that learning is a socially interactive process. Vygotsky believed that children construct their knowledge from their immediate social environments and use adults as a tool to solve their knowledge problems; in comparison, Bandura believed that good role models will produce better behaviour than negative role models. Thus, behaviour is shaped by the environment but it also shapes and changes the environment ina back and forth way. Similarly, the two psychologists also viewed language as an actively-learned behaviour. They considered that language plays a central role in mental development, and verbal instruction will achieve the desired result. Additionally, Bandura observed that necessary conditions are required for effective modelling and encompasses attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. Correspondingly, Vygotsky suggested that development cannot be separated from its social context, as social contact is essential to learning and a child’s early development.

For example:

·        Online activities and projects can encourage the cooperation of student seven when not in the classroom.

·        Teachers can use videos and interactive worksheets to engage their students and assist them through scaffolding.

·        Commercials on TV makes a big impact on young people. There are some advertisements which suggest drinking a certain beverage or using a particular make up or shampoo. So, depending how motivated or attentive that person is may model that behaviour and buy the product.

In conclusion, both theorists suggest that social contacts are essential for children. Thus, care givers are important to produce good behaviour in children and students and it’s their duty to encourage them in good language and thinking skill development.


1.3 Intelligence: - Concept and definition - Theories: Two-factor, Multifactor, Triarchic Theory (Robert Steinberg)

Intelligence derives from the Latin verb intelligere, to comprehend or perceive. It  is the ability to solve problems and to adapt and to learn from life’s everyday experiences. Intelligence has been defined in many different ways such as in terms of one's capacity for logic, abstract thoughts, understandings, perception and many more.

According to D. Wechsler intelligence is “A global concept that involves an individual’s ability to act purposefully, think rationally, and deal effectively with the environment.”

Nature of intelligence

         Distribution of intelligence

         Individual differences in intelligence

         Intelligence and changes in age

         Intelligence and racial or cultural differences

         Intelligence and sexes

Factors Influencing Intelligence

The Child’s Influence:

·        Genetics

·        Genotype–Environment

·        Interaction Gender

1.     Boys and girls tend to be equivalent in most aspects of intelligence 

·        The average IQ scores of boys and girls is virtually identical

·        The extremes (both low and high ends) are over- represented by boys

2.     Girls as a group:  Tend to be stronger in verbal fluency, in writing, in perceptual speed (starting as early as the toddler years)

3.     Boys as a group:  Tend to be stronger in visual-spatial processing, in science, and in mathematical problem solving (starting as early as age 3)

The Immediate Environment’s Influence

·        Family Environment

·        School Environment

1.     Attending school makes children smarter 

·        Children from families of low SES and those from families of high SES make comparable gains in school achievement during the school year

2.     What about during summer break? 

·        During the academic year -- schools provide children of all backgrounds with the same stimulating intellectual environment. 

·        Over the summer, children from low-SES families are less likely to have the kinds of experiences that would maintain their academic achievement.

The Society’s Influence

·        Poverty

·        Race/Ethnicity


There are different theories about intelligence, none of which agreee with each other. Every approach to thinking comes up with it’s own different perspective and assumptions, often contradicting at least one earlier theory.

Spearman’s two-factor theory:

It was developed in 1904 by an English Psychologist, Charles Spearman, who proposed that intellectual abilites were comprised of two factors : one general ability or common ability known as ‘G’ factor and the other a group of specific abilities known as ‘S’ factor. ‘G’ factor is universal inborn ability. Greater ‘G’ in an individual leads to greater success in life. ‘S’ factor is acquired from the environment. It varies from activity to activity in the same individual.

Thorndike’s multifactor theory :

Thorndike believed that there was nothing like General Ability. Each mental activity requires an aggregate of different set of abilities. He distinguished the following four attributes of intelligence :

·        Level—refers to the level of difficulty of a task that can be solved.

·        Range—refers to a number of tasks at any given degree of difficulty.

·        Area—means the total number of situations at each level to which the individual is able to respond.

·        Speed—is the rapidity with which we can respond to the items.

Triarchic Theory (Robert Sternberg)

Intelligence comes in three forms.

Analytical intelligence: The ability to acquire and store information; to retain or retrieve information; to transfer information; to plan, make decisions, and solve problems; and to translate thoughts into performance

·        How efficiently people process information

·        How to solve problems, how to monitor solutions, and how to evaluate the results

·        The use of strategies, acquiring knowledge

·        Students high in analytical intelligence do well in class with lecture and objective tests.

They are considered smart, get good grades, do well on traditional tests, and go to competitive colleges.

Creative intelligence: The ability to solve new problems quickly; the ability to learn how to solve familiar problems in an automatic way so the mind is free to handle other problems that require insight and creativity

·        How people approach familiar or novel tasks

·        Compare new information with what they already know and to come up with new ways of putting facts together

·        To think originally

·        Students high in creative intelligence might not conform to traditional schools.

They tend to give unique answers for which they might get reprimanded.

Practical intelligence: The ability to get out of trouble; The ability to get along with other people

·        How people deal with their environment

·        How to size up a situation and decide what to do – to adapt to it, to change it, or to get out of it

·        Students high in practical intelligence don’t relate well in traditional schools.

They do well outside the classroom walls with good social skills and common sense.

Theory of emotional intelligence (Goleman)

According to Goleman (1995), Emotional Intelligence consists of ‘‘abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think : to empathize, and to hope’’. The main areas are : knowing one’s emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships.

Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner)

Gardner thinks there are nine types of intelligence. He believes each of us have all of the nine types of intelligence to varying degrees. These multiple intelligences are related to how an individual prefers to learn and process information.

Verbal skills: The ability to think in words and use language to express meaning

·        Sensitivity to the meanings and sounds of words, mastery of syntax, appreciation of the ways language can be used (authors, journalists, speakers, poets, teachers)

Mathematical skills: The ability to carry out mathematical operations

·        Understanding of objects and symbols and of actions that be performed on them and of the relations between these actions, ability for abstraction, ability to identify problems and seek explanations (scientists, engineers, accountants)

Spatial skills: The ability to think three-dimensionally

·        Capacity to perceive the visual world accurately, to perform transformations upon perceptions and to re-create aspects of visual experience in the absence of physical stimuli, sensitivity to tension, balance, and composition, ability to detect similar patterns (architects, artists, sailors, chess masters)

Bodily-kinesthetic skills: The ability to manipulate objects and be physically adept

·        Use of one’s body in highly skilled ways for expressive or goal-directed purposes, capacity to handle objects skillfully (surgeons, craftspeople, dancers, athletes, actors)

Musical skills: A sensitivity to pitch, melody, rhythm, and tone

·        Sensitivity to individual tones and phrases of music, an understanding of ways to combine tones and phrases into larger musical rhythms and structures, awareness of emotional aspects of music (musicians, composers, sensitive listeners)

Interpersonal skills: The ability to understand and effectively interact with others

·        Ability to notice and make distinctions among the moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions of other people and potentially to act on this knowledge (teachers, mental health professionals, parents, religious and political leaders)

Intrapersonal skills: The ability to understand oneself

·        Access to one’s own feelings, ability to draw on one’s emotions to guide and understand one’s behavior, recognition of personal strengths and weaknesses (theologians, novelists, psychologists, therapists)

Naturalistic skills: The ability to observe patterns in nature and understand natural and human-made systems

·        Sensitivity and understanding of plants, animals, and other aspects of nature (farmers, botanists, ecologists, landscapers, environmentalists)

Existential intelligence: Those with existential intelligence have a knack for tackling the big questions of life.

·        What is life? Where does it come from? Who am I? What should I do with my life? If you possess existential intelligence, you have a philosophical mind and have no trouble grappling with abstract concept and theory.


1.4 Creativity: Concept, Definition and Characteristics

The almighty God, the creator of the universe, is the supreme-mind who possesses the finest creative abilities. He has created all of us and all that is revealed in nature. We are elevated to be called his creation. According to Indian philosophy, we are constituents of the Supreme power as the rays of the sun are the constituents parts of their creator, the sun.

Therefore every one of us ought to possess creative abilities – and has these abilities. Every one of us is a unique creation, but does not possess the same creative ability as his peers.  Some of us are endowed with high creative talents and contribute to advancement in the fields of art, literature, science, business, teaching and other spheres of human activity.

Drevdahl(1956) “Creativity is the capacity of a person to produce compositions, products or ideas which are essentially new or novel and previously unknown to the producer”.

Spearman(1931) “Creativity is the power of the human mind to create new contents by transforming relations and thereby generating new correlates”.

Nature and characteristics of creativity

  Creativity is universal

  Creativity is innate as well as acquired

  Creativity produces something new or novel

  Creativity is adventurous and open thinking

  Creativity is a means as well as end in itself

  Creativity carries ego involvement

  Creativity has a wide scope

  Creativity and intelligence do not necessarily go hand in hand

  Creativity rests more on divergent thinking than on convergent thinking

  Creativity cannot be separated from intelligence

  Creativity and school achievement are not correlated

  Sociability and creativity are negatively correlated

  Creativity and anxiety often go together

Factors of creativity

  Keen observation

  Creative perception

  Curiosity and sensitivity to problem

  Capacity for divergent thinking

  Capacity to evaluate and judge

  Personality traits

The Creative Person

Cattell (1968), Torrance (1962), MacKinnon (1962) and Foster (1971) have brought out the following behaviour characteristic or personality traits of a potentially creative individual:

  Originality of ideas and expression.

  Adaptability and a sense of adventure.

  Good memory and general knowledge.

  A high degree of awareness, enthusiasm and concentration.

  An investigative and curious nature.

  Lack of tolerance for boredom, ambiguity and discomfort.

  The ability to take independent decisions.

  An Ambitious nature and interest in vague, even silly ideas.

  An open mind with preference for complexity, asymmetry and incompleteness.

  A high degree of sensitivity towards problems.

  Fluency of expression.

The creative process: In the first stage – preparation – the conscious work on the problem is initiated and continued as long as possible. Initially, the problem is defined or analysed and the stage is set for its solution

The second stage, ie. Incubation, this stage is characterised by the absence of activity or in many instances, even of thinking about the problem. We may rest, sleep or engage in other interesting activities.

The stage of inspiration or illumination follows. During this stage the thinker is often presented with a sudden appearance of the solution of his problem.

The final stage verification or revision comes next. During this stage the illumination or inspiration is checked out to determine whether the solution or idea which appeared through insight is in fact the correct one.

The creative product: Creativity is investigated understood and identified through the outcome of the process of creation or the creative products.

How creative one is, can thus be determined through one’s output in the form of ideas, works of art, scientific theories, or even building designs. However for a product to qualify as creative certain minimum criteria must be met.

A creative product must also fulfill the following conditions

  It must be aesthetically pleasing and give joy and satisfaction to the producer as well as the user

  It should provide new perspectives in some areas of human experience and create new conditions or human existence

The creative place:  A focus on place considers the circumstances in which creativity flourishes, such as degrees of autonomy, access to resources and the nature of gatekeepers.


1.5 Implications for Classroom Teaching and Learning

1. Words Are Not Enough

Do not rely on the spoken word only. Most activities for the younger learners should include movement and involve the senses, colors and sounds.

2. Play with the Language

Let the pupils talk to themselves. Make them play with the language by making up rhymes, singing songs, telling stories, etc. in the classroom.

3. Cooperation not Competition

The ideology of the theory of Multiple Intelligences is based on "cooperation" not on competition. So because of this reason, avoid prizes and awards in the class. In this regard, according to Scott and Ytreberg “make room for shared experiences”.

4. Using Storybooks

The educational value of using storybooks and storytelling has always been undisputed throughout the world.

5. Drawing and Coloring

Children can redraw the characters; create maps showing where the story takes place, think of other possible cover illustrations, and so on.

6. Handicrafts

Craft activities are extremely useful as learners can develop their listening and reading skills while following the written or oral instructions. Teachers should always make the craft activity themselves before doing it with their class. The finished work should be shown to the learners to give them a general idea of what is expected from them.

7. Songs and Rhymes

Very often, the rhymes developed in stories are to be found in various songs and rhymes. Pupils can also compose songs for the storybooks they have read and then sing the song they have composed in the classroom.

8. Vocabulary Activities

Pupils can create their own "picture dictionary", based on words from the stories they have read or heard. They can work individually or pool their efforts to illustrate the words, either by drawing pictures or by cutting pictures out of magazines or catalogues.

9. Drama

Pupils can act out the story in the storybooks or song they have read or listened to. They can write, if they want, a different end for the story and then perform the story in the classroom. They can also compose a song for the story and sing it in some parts of the drama.

10. Games

Students may wish to play games purely for fun. Teachers, however, need to make sure that whatever done in the classroom is for teaching and learning.