Learning is a change in behavior that is permanent, and which results from activity, training, and/or observation.
Learning occurs in many different situations, for example, through memorization, the acquisition of physical or intellectual skills, problem-solving situations, trial and error, insightful learning, and the establishment of attitudes, interests, and character trials in addition to the acquisition of mannerisms and gestures.
In all situations, there are certain factors facilitated. The following are some of the important factors influencing learning situations.
Practice is progressive. This is because the acquisition of knowledge is not usually accomplished in one single trial.
Rather it is established gradually with each repetition of the situation leading to an improvement in performance until a satisfactory level of the efficient factor for many acquisitions of learning in which the situation is slightly more complex, for example, in motor learning because motor skill is acquired by practice.
Spacing out the trials seems to provide the most favorable conditions for the exercise, from the point of view both of the number of repetitions required to reach the learning criterion and the equality of work accomplished within a given period.
The interval or rest period between presentations should not be too long because of the inevitable action of forgetting.
If the interval is long enough for forgetting to develop, all the benefits gained from maturation and the possibility of eventual recovery will be lost.
Practice/repetition is equally a real factor in the acquisition of habit because the habit can only be established through frequent repetition of both “stimulating” situations and given response to that situation.
Readiness is a necessity for learning. Readiness for learning depends on physical and mental maturation and the accumulation of experiences as a foundation for the building of new learning.
For example, a child cannot be taught how to walk until he is physically matured enough to walk, nor can he be taught how to read, until he has acquired a certain degree of experience of language skills, and is mentally matured enough to read.
Readiness in the child is often shown by an eager response to the learning task with which he is presented. Such eagerness is often accompanied by rapid progress once learning has begun.
Readiness for learning should therefore be conceived in terms of the individual child. A teacher who is aware of individual differences and knows how to teach accordingly will have a greater chance of success.
Maturation is generally determined and it takes place without express efforts to promote it or even in the face of efforts to prevent it.
Maturation and learning operate as dual forces in almost all cases of behavior changes because children grow in learning.
This is why a child who has not reached a sufficient stage of mental and physical development will have difficulty when he tries to perform school tasks that require a higher level of development.
Research has shown that maturation plays an extensive role in learning. Maturation cannot take place in a vacuum but rather in connection with environmental stimulation.
There is considerable evidence to the effect that when normal environment stimulation is lacking maturing intellectual functions seem to suffer permanent setbacks.
On the other hand, rich stimulation provided during early development gives mental development a boost.
A child’s previous experience plays an important role in determining his readiness for learning. Certain experiences may make a child eager to learn. The home and community background are important factors in learning.
The lack of appropriate experiences produces a cumulative deficit. The child who is already limited by lack of experience cannot benefit much from a new and more advanced level of learning.
Experiences most crucial to success in school learning are those that center on the development of the spoken and written language and these are the experiences most lacking in culturally disadvantaged areas.
Relevance of learning materials and methods of instruction
The relevance of learning materials to children’s interests is a factor in learning. Children are more eager to respond to materials that meet their needs and fit into their already established interests.
For example, children are more eager for skill learning, spelling, reading, and writing when they are having fun, doing it especially when it is to be done in connection with some meaningful projects.
Methods of teaching have a great effect on learning. For example, a skillful teacher, using relevant and adequate teaching materials, and teaching methods commensurate with his students’ abilities will undoubtedly bring some measure of success to his work.
Emotional attitudes and personal adjustment
Numerous children have sufficient capacity and experience but are still not ready to learn. The factor responsible for this is emotional instability.
Emotional instability affects learning, for example, a large proportion of students having difficulties in reading, exhibit some forms of emotional instability. Emotional stress or instability is not only a cause but also an effect of failure in school.
Common provocations which give rise to emotional disturbance, which subsequently hinder learning are unmet needs, over-protection, rejection in the home, previous experiences of school failure, and other home difficulties.
Other factors include sibling jealousy, parental over-indulgence, excessive negativism, social class difference, general home, insecurity or instability, and general feelings of inadequacy. Classroom-induced emotional tension also makes learning more difficult.
Motivation refers to the goal-oriented control and direction of human energy. Motivation plays a vital role in learning.
According to Blair, et al. (1971), so great is the role played by motivation in learning that even in the face of poor teaching methods and badly chosen instructional material, the student who is aroused and interested may still learn a great deal.
Motivation is seen as learning how to direct appropriately, the great energies of which the individual is capable.
For example, the extent to which a child is motivated determines the energy he will put into the learning process.
Motivation has two major aspects which are: intensity (the degree to which energy is aroused) and direction (a focus on thought or action toward some or symbolic process).
Motivation can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. It can either be externally imposed or self-imposed.
Motivation plays a decisive role in what is received, what is stored as information, and what the individual thinks and does.
The concept of reinforcement in learning has a wide acceptable and tremendous influence on education.
The principle of reinforcement states “When a child’s responses result in need reduction symbolized by such things as reward, approval or praise, the response (activities) perceived by the pupil as having led to these pleasurable consequences are strengthened.
Reward plays a great role in learning. For example, if a learned activity is not rewarded, that activity may not re-appear in future behavior.
Intelligence is a factor that affects learning. The level of intelligence of a child will determine the extent to which he can understand, store and retain learning materials.
The more intelligent a child is, the more easily will he spot relevant relationships between objectives and ideas and apply them to new similar situations.