SR.NO. TOPICS PAGE
1. Definition of learning 5
2. Learning process 6
3. Learning theory 7
4. Learning styles 9
5. Conditions for effective learning 13
Definition of learning:-
According to Kim :-
“Increasing one’s capacity to take action”
According to Williams :-
“ Learning is goal directed, it is based on experience, it
impacts behaviour and cognition, and the changes brought about
are relatively stable.”
According to MUMFORD AND GOLD :-
“Learning is both a process and outcome concerned with
knowledge, skills and insight.”
According to HONEY AND MUMFORD:-
“Learning can happen when people can demonstrate that
they know some thing that they did not know before and
when they can do something they could not do before”
A number of leading authorities on learning in organization have
declared that ‘learning is complex and various, covering all sorts of things
such as knowledge, skills, insights, beliefs, values, attitudes and habits.’
Individuals learn for themselves and learn from other people. They learn as
members of team and by interaction with their managers, co workers and
people outside the organization. People learn by doing and by instruction.
The ways in which individuals learn differ, and the extent to which they
learn depends largely on how well they are externally motivated or self
There are number of learning theories, each of which focuses on
different aspects of the learning process as applied to people in general. The
main theories are concerned with:
• Cognitive learning,
• Experiential learning,
• Social learning.
Reinforcement theory is based on the work of Skinner. It expresses the
belief that change in behaviors take place as a result of an individual’s
responses to events or stimuli, and the ensuing consequences (rewards
and punishments.). Individuals can be ‘conditioned’ to repeat the
behaviour by positive reinforcement in the form of feed back and
knowledge of results.
Gagne later developed his stimulus- response theory, which relates the
learning process to a number of factors, including reinforcement,
• Drive- there must be a basic need or drive to learn
• Stimulus- people must be stimulated by the learning process.
• Response- people must be helped by the learning process to develop
appropriate responses; in other words, the knowledge, the skills and
attitudes that will lead to effective performance.
• Reinforcement- these responses need to be reinforcement by feedback
and experience until they are learnt.
Cognitive learning involves gaining knowledge and understanding by
absorbing information in the form of principles, concepts and facts, and
then internalizing it.
Learners can be regarded as powerful information processing machines.
Experiential learning theory:-
People are active agents of their own learning. Experiential learning
takes place when people learn form their experience by reflecting on it so
that is can be understood and applied. Learning is therefore a personal
‘construction’ of meaning through experience. ‘Constructivists’ such as
Roger believed that experiential learning will be enhanced through
facilitation- creating an environment in which people can be stimulated
to think and act in way that help them to make good use of their
Social learning theory states that effective learning requires social
suggested that we all participate in ‘communities of practice’ and that
these are our primary sources of learning. Bandura views learning as a
series of information processing steps set in train by social interactions.
Learning theories describe in general terms how people learn, but
individual learners will have different style of learning
KOLB’S LEARNING STYLE
Kolb identified a learning cycle consisting of four stages as shown in the
• Concrete experience- this can be planned or accidental.
• Reflective experience- this involves actively thinking about the
experience and its significance.
• Abstract conceptualization- generalizing from experience in order to
develop various concepts and ideas which can be applied when similar
situations are encountered.
• Active experimentation- testing the concept or ideas in new situations.
This gives rise to a new concrete experience and the cycle begins again.
The key to Kobl’s model is that it is a simple description of how
experience is translated into concepts which are then used to guide the
choice of new experiences. To learn effectively, individuals must shift from
being observers to participants’ from direct involvement to a more objective
analytical detachment. Every person has his own learning style, and one of
the most important arts that trainers have to develop is to adjust their
approaches to the learning styles of trainees.
Trainer must acknowledge these learning styles rather that their own
KOLB ALSO DEFINED THE FOLLOWING LEARNING STYLES OF
• Accommodators who learn by trial and error, combining the concrete
experience and experimentation stages of the cycle.
• Divergers who prefer concrete to abstract learning situations, and
reflection to active involvement. Such individuals have great
imaginative ability, and can view a complete situation from different
• Convergers who prefer to experiment with ideas, considering them for
their practical usefulness. Their main concern is whether the theory
works in action, thus combining the abstract and experimental
• Assimilators who like to create their own theoretical models and
assimilate a number of disparate observations into an overall integrated
explanation, thus they veer towards the reflective and abstract
THE HONEY AND MUMFORD
Another analysis of learning styles was made by Honey and Mumford.
They identified four styles:
• Activists who involve themselves fully without bias in new experiences
and revel in new challenges.
• Reflectors who stand back and observe new experiences from different
They collect data, reflect on it and then come to a conclusion.
• Theorists who adapt and apply their observation in the form of logical
theories. they lend to be perfectionists.
• Pragmatists who are keen to try out new ideas, approaches and concepts
to see if they work.
However, none of these four learning styles in exclusive. It is quite
possible that one person could be both a reflector and a theorist, and
someone else could be an activist/ pragmatist, a reflector/ pragmatist or
even a theorist/ pragmatist.
There are four types of learning:-
• Instrumental learning – learning how to do the job better once the
basic standard of performance has been attained. Helped by learning on
• Cognitive learning – outcome based on the enhancement of knowledge
• Affective learning- outcome based on the development of attitudes or
feelings rather than knowledge
• Self reflective learning- developing new patterns of understanding,
thinking and behaving and therefore creating new knowledge.
Motivation to learning:-
Individuals must be motivated to learn. They should be aware that their
resent level of knowledge, skill or competence, or their existing attitude
or behavior, need to be developed or improved if they are to perform
their work to their own and to others satisfaction. They must, therefore,
have a clear picture of the behaviour they should adopt. To be
motivated, learners must gain satisfaction from learning. They are most
capable of learning if it satisfies one or more of their needs. Conversely,
the best learning programmes can fail if they are not seen as useful by
those undertaking them.
Self directed learning:-
Self directed or self managed learning involves encouraging individuals
to take responsibility for their own learning needs, either to improve
performance in their present job or to develop their potential and satisfy
their career aspirations. It can be based on a process of recording
achievement and action planning that involves individual reviewing
what they have learnt, what they have achieved, what their goals are,
how they are going to achieve those goals and what new learning they
need to acquire. The learning programme can be ‘self- paced’ in the
sense that learners can decide for themselves up to a point the rate at
which they work and are encouraged to measure their won progresss
and adjust the programme accordingly.
Self directed learning is based on the principle that people learn and
retain more if they find things out for themselves. But they still need to
be given guidance on what to look for and help in finding it. Learners
have to be encouraged to define, with whatever help they may require,
what they need to know to perform their job effectively.
Learning goals, direction and
Effective learning is more likely to be achieved if learners have learning
goals. They should have targets and standards of performance that they
find acceptable and achievable and can use to judge their own progress.
They should be encouraged and helped to set their won goals. The
learning outcome must be clear.
Learners need a sense of direction and feedback on how they are doing.
They should receive reinforcement of correct behaviour. Self motivated
individuals may provide much of this themselves, but it is necessary to
have a learning facilitator. Learners usually need to know quickly how
well they are doing. In a prolonged programme, intermediate steps are
required in which learning can be reinforced. The content of the learning
programme may therefore need to be broken down into small modules
or elements, each with an objective.
The learning goals and the particulars needs and learning style of the
learner should indicate what learning method or methods should be
used. Specific goals and understanding of individuals needs help to
select appropriate learning methods. It should not be assumed that a
single learning method will do. A combination of method is likely to
produce better results. The use of a variety of methods, as long as they
are all appropriate helps learning by engaging the interest of learners.
Learning is personal, subjective and inseparable from activity. It is an
active, not a passive process. As far as possible, therefore, the learning
process should be avtive, although this may take more time than passive
methods in which the learner is at the receiving end of some form of
training. The more complex the skill to be mastered, the more the
learning methods need to be active. Learning requires time to assimilate,
test and accept. This time should be provided in the learning
Different levels of learning exist and these need different methods and
take different times. At the simplest level, learning requires direct
physical response, memorization and basic conditioning. At a higher
level, learning involves adapting existing knowledge or skill to a new
task or environment. At the next level, learning becomes a complex
process when principles are identified in a range of practice or actions,
when a series of isolated tasks have to be integrated, or when the process
is about developing interpersonal skills. The most complex form of
learning takes place when learning is concerned with the values and
attitudes of people and groups. This is not only the most complex area,
but also the most difficult.
Informal learning is experiential learning. Most learning does not take
place in formal training programmes. People can learn 70 % of what they
know about their job informally, through processes not structured or
sponsored by the organization.
Reynolds notes that:-
The simple act of observing more experienced colleagues can accelerate
learning, conversing, swapping stories; co operating on tasks and offering
mutual support deepen and solidify the process…. This kind of learning –
often very informal in nature- is though to be vastly more effective in
building proficiency than more formalized training methods.
Advantages of informal learning:-
• Learning efforts are relevant and focused in the immediate environment,
• Understanding can be achieved in incremental steps rather than in
• Learners define how they will gain knowledge they need- formal
learning is more packaged,
• Learners can readily put their learning into knowledge.
Disadvantages of informal
• It may be left to chance- some people will benefit some won’t
• It can be unplanned and unsystematic, which means that it will not
necessarily satisfy individuals or organization learning needs,
• Learners may simply pick up bad habits.
Formal learning is planned and systematic and involves the use of
structured training programmes consisting of instruction and practice.
Features of formal and informal learning:-
Highly relevant to individual Relevant to some, not so relevant
needs. to others
Learners learn according to need All learners learn the same thing
May be small gap between current May be variable gap between
and target knowledge current and target knowledge
Learners decide how to learning Trainers decide how to learning
will occur will occur
Immediate learning (just in time Variable times, often learning.
Learning readily transferable Problems may occur in
transferring learning to the work
Occurs in work setting Often occur in non work setting.