My Own book/Roles of a Teacher

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Learners are advised to go through the activities, carry them out , discuss your thoughts. Do take the test under the title 'Evaluation'. Entries under 'Extra Learning' is for deeper learning.


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At the end of this Chapter on Learning, you will
  1. understand the meaning of learning
  2. understand steps in the process of learning
  3. analyse the aspects of a learning curve
  4. apply concepts related to learning

Meaning of Learning

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Pair up with a learning partner and share anything you have learnt. It could be a skill like embroidery or cooking, a course you have undertaken or even an attitude you have imbibed.

What changes occured in you due to this learning?
Were there any common elements in your learning experience and that of your learning partner's experience?
Was the change in you temporary?

You have discussed an experience with your friend. Now read through this Case Study .

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Case Study
I was in Grade Ten when my mother fell ill. There was no one else in the house and so I had to learn some basic cooking. With mother guiding me from her bed, I made my first dish--- an omlette. Well! It was partly burnt, the onion was chopped a bit too thick, it was slightly salty. We ate it . Mother said "It is fine. Next time will be better!" And so was it. The next attempt was better. And two weeks later, I was churning out the fluffiest omlettes you could have ever seen. My culinary skills improved.There was less mess in the kitchen, more dishes were tried out and today I am quite a good cook.

Did you notice some change in this experience related above? Was this change permanent? Did this change come about just like that or was there some process behind it? Well this process is called as learning.

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  1. Henry Smith: Learning is acquisition of new behaviour or the strengthening or weakening of old behaviour as a result of experience.
  2. Crow and Crow: Learning is acquisition of habits, knowledge and attitudes

Learning has some special characteristics:
Characteristics of learning:
1.Learning is relatively permanent
2.Learning is goal directed or purposeful
3.Learning modifies our behaviour
4.Learning involves adjustment and adaptation
5.Learning is universal and continuous
6.Learning is closely related to maturation
7.Learning covers many aspects of the human personality. Its scope touches formation of habits, development of interests, values as well as thinking , reasoning, acquisition of skills and knowledge.
8.It is a process and not a product.

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Get back to your learning partner and reconsider the example that you shared. See if the characterisitcs mentioned above figure in your case.

Learning, in psychology, is the process by which a relatively lasting change in potential behavior occurs as a result of practice or experience. Learning is distinguished from behavioral changes arising from such processes as maturation and illness, but does apply to motor skills, such as driving a car, to intellectual skills, such as reading, and to attitudes and values, such as prejudice. There is evidence that neurotic symptoms and patterns of mental illness are also learned behavior. Learning occurs throughout life in animals, and learned behavior accounts for a large proportion of all behavior in the higher animals, especially in humans.

Process of learning

In any type of learning,one would come across the following steps
1.Goal: All learning is goal directed. A specific aim facilitates learning
2.Motivation: All learning involves some motive- Some motives are extrinsic eg we learn a subject to pass an exam. Some are intrinsic eg we learn a musical instrument because we want to do so.
3.Exploration: One explores different possibilities that will help to learn in the best possible way.
4.Perception: Learning depends upon one’s perception of the learning environment
5.Response: all learning involves some sort of response to a stimulus which may be provided by the learning environment
6.Reinforcement: Timely and proper reinforcement assists learning. Reinforcement may be a reward or a punishment.
7.Integration: Learning involves integration of right responses
This is represented by a figure


Learning curve

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Case Study
This is my own story. I signed up for a workshop in learning wikiskills. The first couple of days were days of little progress. I had to understand the features of a page,I had no idea of editing and I often got lost while navigating through various pages.Yet, I was higly motivated and I put in more than the required hours to learn how to create a reasonably good page. The motivation provided by my facilitators and my fellow wiki learners was encouraging. As I got used to the features of a page,I got quicker. I kept learning by visiting other pages, reading through the tutorials, using my past experiences and wow!There was quick progress. A couple of days later, I seemed to be stuck to the same actions. I was picking up new skills like adding colours, introducing templates, creating quizzes and well those were not very easy to master. Creating image files and uploading pictures was a task.I 'seemed' to be making no progress... atleast my page did not display anything new. Then came a sudden change in my page. Oh!It was full of pictures, links to new pages displayed so much more. The compliments and honours kept coming in. And so the wiki journey continues. I have learnt to take the plateaus more sportingly, because they will be followed by spurts....I enjoyed wikieducator. Is this similar to your story? If you are not into Wikieducator, why wait? Enroll for the next upcoming online workshop.

Did you notice any specific stages in the above case?
Generally a typical learning curve has:
1-Period of slow progress: Initial period where the task is new involves slow progress. High enthusiasm and motivation can accelerate the period. Teacher must make use of previous knowledge, motivate the student. Use maxims like known to unknown and easy to difficult at this stage.
2-Period of rapid progress: Occurs when the learner gets accustomed to the task. Practice helps to reach this stage. Motivation is high. More learning can be done in such a stage.
3-Plateau: It is a period of no apparent progress in the learning task. Progress seems to stagnate. Possible causes are lack of motivation, fatigue, imbibing of poor habits that interfere, difficulty level of task may be more, lack of interest, satisfaction with the level achieved,. Teacher’s role is to motivate. Give rest to overcome fatigue. Remove interfering habits. Have change of task or methodology if necessary. Some plateaus are when skills are being integrated for higher learning. Such plateaus should not be interfered with. A plateau is always followed by a period of rapid progress.
4-Spurt in learning: A period of rapid progress that follows a plateau.
5-Levelling off: The last stage in a learning curve. Beyond this stage learning does not normally occur. This is due to our human limitations. This is just below the physiological limit of the learner.

Role of the teacher:
Providing encouragement in case of slow progress or plateau. Eliminating wrong habits and assisting learning. If a student’s learning curve is much below an average learning curve perhaps the student is a slow learner and may need intervention. Maximise learning in the period of rapid progress. Do not expect much beyond the physiological limits. Learning curve will differ from individual to individual. So accept such differences. Use a learning curve to understand, guide and motivate the learner. In case of mature learners, a learning curve can be used for self motivation.


Try this small quiz to test what you have learned. Good luck!!!

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Quiz on Learning


1. A man under the influence of intoxicants shows a marked change in his behaviour.He turns very generous. Which of the following statements is true?

(a)This is a case of learning because there is a change in behaviour
(b) This is a case of learning because he is influenced by the experience of having taken an intoxicant
(c) This is not learning because the change is not permanent
Absolutely Correct!
(d)It is not a case of learning because there no evidence of learning experience

2. Myron visits an orphange and since then he is very respectful to his parents. He realises their worth. Is this learning?

(a)No. Because Myron does not exhibit any different knowledge
(b) It is a case of learning as there is a change in attitude
Absolutely Correct!
(c) Myron did not go to any school. How can that be learning?
(d) Can't say as learning must involve something more than this

3. Uma has begun attending cooking classes. The first day she is frustrated as she has too manage too many small tasks and she finds herself awfully slow. What advice is most apt for her?

(a)"Give up cooking. You can manage big tasks if you can't handle little ones"
(b)"Hold on! Every learner faces this stage of slow progress"
Absolutely Correct
(c)"Perhaps you are on a learning plateau, Uma. Stay on!"
Incorrect. A learning plateau does not appear at the start of learning.
(d)"May be Uma you have no potential at all"

4. Which of the following is not a probable cause for plateaus in learning?

a)Lack of motivation
(c)Transition to a higher state of learning
(d)Limitations due to physiology

5. Which of the following statements is true?

(a)All plateaus are unhealthy for learning
Incorrect. Plateaus caused during transiiton to higher learning are healthy.
(b)All learning is socially desirable
Incorrect. We also learn undesirable things like lying, stealing etc.
(c)Learning must involve a behavioral change
Absolutely Correct
(d)Learning may or may not be goal oriented

Your score is 0 / 0


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Is there anything you would like to learn? It could be a new language or skills in technology. It could be learning to improve your teaching competencies. Draw up a plan of action with respect to how much time you give yourself to learn, when do you intend to start, who will help you out and put your plan into action. Happy learning!

Deeper Learning

Read about learning at
Read about learning development cycle at
Read about the learning process at

Humour in Learning

Well.. since you have been such a good student and learned so much about learning, I think you need to smile. Go on to And Keep smiling.

Return to Psychology of Learning Go further Factors affecting Learning