Principle of Learning Theories: Simple Learning:
The main purpose of a learning theory is to explain learning operations and to a lesser extent to predict and control the course of learning.
Earlier theories of learning advanced a few principles that purported to explain all operations and all outcomes of learning in all living organisms.
The modern theories are less ambitious. We shall start with the main principles underlying the earlier theories briefly and pass on to the views of modern learning psychologists who insist on the functional approach in order to describe learning and reinterpret its principles.
The theories of learning largely depend on the research work done by different researchers on the basis of one basic principle and their work is dedicated toward establishing general principles for interpretations. This effort takes one into the realm of scientific theory of learning.
The earliest experiments in the history of learning psychology that advanced the basic data on which our knowledge and theory of learning rests, were conducted by Ebbinghaus in Germany, emphasizing the principle of association (contiguity)—a product of the School of Associationism, originating early in the days of Aristotle.
Aristotle laid down the basic principles of memory— similarity, contrast and contiguity—which have not yet ceased to dominate theoretical thinking about learning. Alexander Bain was through and through a psychologist in the days of philosophy.
Bain’s discussion of intellect was nothing more than his discussion of association. He held to two fundamental laws of association: contiguity and similarity. Bain held the law of contiguity to be a matter of the previous concurrences of actions or sensations.
He explained learning and memory in the following terms – “they tend to grow together, or where, in such a way that, when one of them is afterwards presented to the mind, the others are apt to be brought up to idea”.
Thus these laws seemed to Bain to explain retentiveness. It depends, he noted, upon the ‘repetition’ of contiguities and also, upon attention. It depends further upon the general retentiveness of the individual, for there are “individual differences” in “the aptitude of acquirement”. These principles are still regarded basic in learning and memorization more than hundred years later.
Next important contribution on associationism came from Withhelm Wundt. Association, for Wundt, was one of the most important cases of the operation of the law of “psychic resultants”. To him, association was the fundamental principle of connection and in its primitive form it is ‘simultaneous’ although it readily becomes successive.
It occurs passively, for active association is ‘apperception’. Wundt’s concept of apperception focuses on three aspects of the doctrine: apperception as phenomenon, as cognition and as activity. First, Wundt, by declaring apperception as phenomenon postulates that it belongs within the range of attention—a conscious process, and can come under experimentation.
Secondly, Wundt further distinguished apperception from association by saying that the former occurs in logical connections between mental contents, whereas associative connections are not logical. Apperception had been held by Wundt to have a “cognitive” function and apperception synthesis leads to concept formation and thus connected with learning.
Thirdly, according to Wundt, apperception is active, a constant current in the stream of consciousness. Apperception means flux and change and hence related with learning.
The importance of apperception had earlier -appeared in Johann Friedrich Herbart, a philosopher, but best known as the “father of scientific pedagogy” which he founded upon psychology. The importance of his theory lies in the fact that his work had a definite influence upon the later experimental psychology—the work later done by Wundt in his laboratory at Leipzig.
Herbart’s idea of apperception involved no free selection of the mind—to him, everything depended upon the mechanics of resultant, based on a sort of connectionism.
It is in connection with this picture of the mind that the word ‘apperception’ appeared in Herbart’s exposition. According to him, the apperceiving of an idea is, therefore, not only the making of it conscious, but also its assimilation to a totality of conscious ideas—which Herbart called the “apperceiving mass”. The phrase “apperceptive mass” contributed importantly to base psychology for the process of education and learning.
The new psychology of content of associationistic psychology of Wundt (Wundt’s psychology was fundamentally introspective, sensationistic, elementistic and associationistic) had been put to test through series of experiments.
It was Hermann Ebbinghaus who was primarily a psychologist of content, because he accepted the psychology that had proved itself amenable to experimentation. Ebbinghaus, with his sole reliance on Fechner’s book and his own interest, set about adapting Fechner’s method to the problem of the measurement of memory, picking up frequency of repetition as the essential condition of association.
He showed how repetitions could be used as a measure of memory. It was Ebbinghaus who fixed the outcome of British associationism by seizing upon repetition and making it the basis of experimental measurement of memory. His work was highly original in this research.
The learning material used by Ebbinghaus were his own invention. He invented the nonsense syllables, it would seem, out of nothing at all in the way of ancestry. The logic was that if he was to measure the formation of association, he had to have a material, uniformly unassociated with which to begin.
He framed 2,300 such syllables (two consonants with one vowel in between) more homogeneous than list of words, which could be associated in lists for learning. He was his own subject ‘of the learning experiment, and drew the first curve of forgetting and learning as well, on the basis of his own performance on learning.
(b) Connectionism: Trial-and-error learning:
The next exponent of associationism in learning was Edward, Lee Thorndike. His theory goes by the name “connectionism”, he reexplained the principle of contiguity in the connectionist tradition. The basic principle of learning accepted by Thorndike in his earliest writings was association between sense impression and impulses to action (responses). Such an association came to be known as a “bond” or a “connection”.
Thorndike conducted series of researches in animal learning and his experimental conclusions led to the establishment of a “bond” or “connection” between stimulus and response which is either strengthened or weakened in the making and breaking of habits of the animals in the laboratory condition.
The “bond” psychology—or simply “connectionism”, as Thorndike’s system is called—is the same stimulus-response psychology of learning, originally introduced by Watson in his psychology of behaviourism as a protest against the prevalent psychology of mentalism in Structural and Functional Psychology of Wundt and his followers who accepted psychology of conscious experiences only as subject matter.
The characteristic form of learning, according to Thorndike, was identified as trial-and-error learning—a process of learning by selecting and connecting. In this paradigmatic situation, the learner is confronted by a problem situation in which he has to reach a goal, such as, escape from a problem box or attainment of food.
He does this by selecting the appropriate response from a number of possible responses and connecting his behaviour with correct response. A trial is defined by the length of time (or number of errors) involved in a single reaching of the goal. Thorndike, like a true mechanist of his day, sought to provide a mechanistic account of animal learning, confined to elementary events and operations.
(a) Classical Conditioning:
Russian physiologist, Ivan P. Pavlov introduced a process of learning, known as conditioning, that gave the major impetus to theory building in learning. The essential elements of the classical conditioned-response is a reaction that normally follows a specified stimulus selected.
It is assumed that the stimulus-reaction is unlearned. A new stimulus is now presented in association with the original stimulus. After a time the original stimulus is withdrawn and it is found that the new stimulus now elicits the original response. The response has now become ‘conditioned’ to the new stimulus.
In Pavlov’s classic experiment he conditioned the flow of saliva in a dog to the ringing of a bell. It has been found that the time relationship between the unconditioned and conditioned stimulus is a critical factor. Ordinarily the conditioned stimulus should, precede the unconditioned stimulus.
A second important factor is that of reinforcement. After a conditioned stimulus—response reaction has been established—if that is not reinforced with the unconditioned stimulus from time to time—the response will weaken and, ultimately, disappear.
Thirdly, it has also been found that new unconditioned stimuli can be conditioned to a conditioned stimulus. “That is, if B is conditioned to A, then C can be conditioned to B”. The most important contribution of conditioning has been to give us basic scientific data on which to begin to build a theory of learning.
Watson’s and Hull’s theories have been directly derived from conditioned-response or classical conditioning is the occurrence of two stimuli events in close time proximity.
The principles of conditioning were initially established by laboratory studies. A clear presentation of these principles, along with application to school learning, is given by Staats (1968). Staats pointed out two kinds of classical conditioning: ‘first order’ conditioning and ‘higher order’ conditioning.
In first order conditioning, a neutral stimulus is presented almost simultaneously with the unconditioned stimulus. Pavlov used metronome to produce a tick tock sound as the neutral stimulus and food as unconditioned one.
The food in the mouth leads to natural salivation in the dog and, in the process, mere sight of the food leads to the unconditioned response of salivation, a reflex in a hungry animal. After both have been presented together repeatedly the tick-tock sound of the metronome could produce salivation in the animal and the food having withdrawn gradually, only the sound of the metronome alone could elicit the response of salivation. The metronome sound is now ‘conditioned stimulus’, and salivation is the ‘conditioned response’.
In higher order conditioning, the next step, the sound of the metronome, which produces the salivation response, now serves the same function as did the previous unconditioned stimulus—food. When a new neutral stimulus, a red circle, is presented immediately before the metronome sound, the sight of the red circle alone, after repeated pairings with the metronome, eventually elicits the response of salivation.
These principles of classical conditioning may be stated more formally. That means, wherever a stimulus that elicits a conditioned response occurs in close time proximity with a new neutral stimulus (which is not conditioned) there is a resulting tendency for the new stimulus to elicit the response (due to association). Further, when the new stimulus—now the conditioned stimulus—elicits the conditioned response, it may be manipulated with another neutral stimulus with the result that the response is brought under the control of the second previously neutral stimulus.
(b) Operant Conditioning:
In operant or instrumental conditioning, on the other hand, the response must be made before a positive reinforcer, such as a reward, is given or before a negative reinforcer, such as an aversive stimulus, is removed. Thus is operant conditioning, when a response is followed by a reward, there is a tendency for the response to be repeated. Conditioning in which the animal performs a particular task, makes a particular movement or emits a particular response and is rewarded for doing so—the emphasis being on the animal manipulating its environment as opposed to its relatively passive role in classical conditioning. The term was introduced by B. F. Skinner (Skinnerian Psychology). Operant conditioning experiments involve long series of trials, with cumulative records of the rate and number of responses being plotted on graphs.
In instrumental conditioning procedures the conditioned response is instrumental in doing something for the organism. The response is typically instrumental in procuring or perpetuating the reward of some kind or in avoiding or diminishing punishment. The nature of instrumental conditioning is basically dependent on operant behaviour of the learner which is again a different respondent behaviour. Skinner proposed that two classes of responses should be distinguished, a class of elicited response (respondent) and a class of emitted (operant) responses.
Responses which are elicited by known stimuli— such as meat powder in the mouth of the dog producing reflexive saliva secretion—are classified as ‘respondents’. The second class of responses which need not be correlated with any known stimuli are ’emitted’ responses and are designated ‘operants’. They are situational and not elicited by recognized stimuli. Related to two types of responses, there appears two types of conditioning.
The conditioning of respondent behaviour is assigned to Type S, because reinforcement is correlated with ‘stimuli’. In classical conditioning on the other hand eliciting respondent behaviour the conditioned stimulus (sound of the metronome) is presented together with the unconditioned stimulus (meat powder) and thus elicits the response (salivation).
The conditioning of operant behaviour is assigned to Type R, the letter R designates correlation with reinforcement. It is the ‘response’ which is correlated with reinforcement. In operant conditioning experiment, the animal has to press a lever which releases the door to reach to the food. For a hungry organism this response may be strengthened by following it with food. It is not the ‘sight’ of the lever which is important, it is the pressing of the lever, which is to be noted.
The conditioned response, i.e. pressing the lever, is a response which causes the reinforcer to appear—the reinforcing stimuli only helps emitting the response. In operant or instrumental conditioning, reinforcement cannot follow unless the conditioned response appears; reinforcement is ‘contingent’ upon the response,. In instrumental conditioning, the response is one which must become associated with conditioned stimuli through ‘learning’. Therefore, it is a learning principle and is applicable to human learning behaviour. According to Hilgard most human behaviour is operant in nature. “The behavior of eating a meal, driving a car, writing a letter, shows but little of respondent character”.
In this connection, it may be noted that higher order conditioning is also” possible in operant conditioning experiments, with both positive and negative reinforcers. The conditioned reinforcer in the positive conditioning which increases the probability of repetition of response is known as secondary reinforcer. Such a secondary reinforcer, once its reinforcement property is established, may generalize to reinforce responses other than the one with which it was initially associated.
The main generalizations about operant conditioning may be summarized. When a positive reinforcer closely follows a certain response, the probability that the response will occur again is increased. Same thing happens with negative reinforcers, and, when the reinforcer is removed, the response that led to removal will also tend to increase. Higher-order conditioning occurs in instrumental conditioning in the way that when a neutral stimulus is paired with a positive reinforcing stimulus, the neutral stimulus, after repeated pairing, itself acquires reinforcing power. Secondary reinforcers are usually social and is used in human learning mostly.
The proponents of operant conditioning do not accept the idea that learning occurs merely through associating two events in close time contiguity. They, in addition, insist on a reinforcer to strengthen the response.
Forgetting and Conditioning:
Psychologists who explain learning in terms of conditioning usually do not use the word “forgetting”. They refer to the weakening of responses as “extinction”, based on the assumption that responses are strengthened through reinforcement and may be weakened through nonreinforcement. Reinforcement strengthens a response but effective reinforcement is dependent on a variable ratio schedule. We shall discuss this in details in Skinner’s theory.
Some Aspects of Conditioning:
From the study of conditioning several phenomena have been isolated that are of great significance for the understanding of conditioning and learning.
1. ‘Stimulus Generalization’:
Stimulus generalization is vital to the understanding of much human learning and performance. The general procedure for demonstrating stimulus generalization is relatively simple. An individual is conditioned to respond to a particular conditioned stimulus. After the response to a particular stimulus becomes established, the stimulus generalization involves the individual presentation of stimuli that vary in the degree of their similarity to the original conditioned stimulus. Stimulus generalization is said to have occurred to the extent that these stimuli elicit the previous response.
The strength of the response to stimuli of varying degrees of similarity or closeness to the original conditioned stimulus is used as a measure of the gradient of stimulus generalization. Research findings have indicated that the degree of closeness and similarity between the original conditioned stimulus and the test stimuli is positively correlated with the response strength.
The greater the similarity, the greater the response strength and the greater the discrepancy between two stimuli, the less the strength of responding causing less learning. It is an important factor in human learning because generalization may extend to objects, persons, stimuli or situations having something in common with the situation to which the individual had been originally conditioned.
This means that we are probably being conditioned in some way in everything of life’s situations and in this way we develop our attitudes, prejudices, biases as well as perceptual and conceptual meanings of life and living. Stimulus generalization differs from individual to individual and individual difference in stimulus generalization is significant.
From the discussion on instrumental conditioning we know what reinforcement means. The consequences of the conditioned response are said to reinforce the response. So these consequences are called reinforcers, and the obtaining of these consequences is called reinforcement. In Pavlov’s experiment of classical conditioning with dog , the meat powder in the dog’s tongue was the reinforcement for the salivary response as well as the unconditioned stimulus for it.
In negative instrumental conditioning the reduction in pain is the reinforcer and in positive conditioning any reward or satisfying situation is a reinforcer. The use of positive reward in education and training of children has long been recognized as an effective procedure. By reinforcing the desire or by correct responses, parents and teachers guide and direct the social and academic behaviour of the children under their management.
The effects of reward and punishment on behaviour are commonly recognized. Thorndike formalized these observations in his “law of effect”, which stated in essence that those responses that were accompanied or followed by satisfaction to the organism tend to be repeated and those that resulted in discomfort or dissatisfaction for the organism tend not to be repeated.
Thus, a great number of things in the life situation have been found to be either positively or negatively reinforcing. It is the essential condition of learning and conditioning. When the principal controlled variable in the learning situation is reinforcement, the reinforcement—at least indirectly—is presumed to have something to do with the learning that is basic to the consistent performance. The schedule of reinforcement will be discussed in details in Skinner’s theory in the subsequent chapters.
3. ‘Delay in reinforcement’:
In the deliberate use of reinforcements, they should occur as closely following the responses that they are to perpetuate as. is possible. The most effective use of reinforcements is when they follow closely the desired responses. The delay of reinforcement probably acts to decrease its effectiveness in human as well as in lower animals.
4. ‘Secondary Reinforcement’:
The stimuli used to establish higher order conditions are said to acquire reinforcing value. They are called ‘secondary reinforcement’ because they have never been directly associated with the originally effective stimulus but become effective in eliciting and maintaining a conditioned response. The concept of secondary reinforcement is an important one because it can be used in accounting for learning in which there is no apparent primary reinforcement.
If a conditioned stimulus is repeatedly presented after a response has been established to it, and the conditioned stimulus is never again reinforced by being paired with the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned response gradually disappears. The progressive decrement in responding resulting from non-reinforcement is called ‘extinction’.
The massing of non-reinforced trials has been found, in general, to be the most effective way of extinguishing conditioned responses. When training is carried on a regular reinforcement schedule, extinction is rather rapid and, when it has been on variable schedule, it is much more resistant to extinction procedure.
6. ‘Spontaneous Recovery’:
An apparently extinguished response may reoccur after some time has elapsed since the last extinction trial. Spontaneous recovery is the characteristic of learned behaviour after a series of extinction trials followed by rest or distraction.
One interpretation of the phenomenon of spontaneous recovery has to do with the concept of ‘inhibition’. Response inhibition is assumed to build up as a function of unreinforced conditioned responses and to dissipate with rest.
Thus, if the conditioned stimulus—and any stimulus to which generalization may have occurred—is not encountered for some time, the inhibition diminishes and the response may again occur on the presentation of the appropriate conditioned stimulus.
The precise nature of spontaneous recovery is likely to depend upon the strength of conditioned response, the number of extinction trials, the spacing of extinction trials and the number of times extinction and reconditioning have already occurred.
When a particular stimulus situation is to be selected to respond to, it is essential to learn to discriminate among many stimuli. The process of discrimination can be viewed as the process of breaking down or controlling generalization.
Discrimination involves responses to one stimulus being reinforced and responses to others are not reinforced and thus extinguished. When the response is eventually made to one stimulus and not to others, the organism making response has learned to discriminate. The intelligent behaviour of a student in academic or a social situation requires his ability to make rather subtle discrimination.
Principle of Learning Theories: Complex Learning:
In addition to conditioning and trial and error, complex learning involves forms like imitation, cognitive and conceptual learning, problem solving, social learning, creative learning, and cumulative learning within the parameter of “obsevational” and “meaningful learning”.
Each of these forms (principles) contributed to the formulation of theories of learning employed by different psychologists in conducting experiments in their own manner.
1. Observational Learning ‘Imitation’:
Imitation has much in common with the process of identification. Imitation refers to the copying of specific ways of acting or patterns of behaviour while identification refers to be like another person and even merge with the model’s personality: Imitation of another’s behaviour may be a partial means of identification.
Identification is significant educationally when the person imitated acts as a model. It is more important as a source of motivation than it is a form of learning.
The models children observe and imitate are classified as ‘real life’, ‘symbolic’, and ‘representational’. At home, real life models for younger children are parents and relatives. Teachers and other persons in the community are the real life models for many school children.
Models presented through oral or written instructions and pictures or through a combination of verbal and pictorial devices are ‘symbolic’. Models presented by audiovisual means, particularly television, are ‘representational’.
In the schools and in many homes much attention is given to ‘exemplary models’. Such models demonstrate prosocial behaviours, those that are considered desirable by the adults responsible for the education of the children. The socializing aspects of education is probably more critical than is generally assumed.
Much socialized behaviour and antisocial, under- sirable behaviours are acquired through imitating models. Sometimes imitation of television models may cause disaster to children and family. A child may imitate in order to obtain things or for just fun of it, or for chivalrous activity demonstrated by television models. Imitation is more a form of learning than is identification.
The fact that people and some lower animals do imitate is beyond doubt—sometimes the process is conscious and sometimes unconscious. But there seems to be no convincing evidence of instinctive imitation in man. Imitation is an observational learning.
An observer attends to and imitates a model. He produces behaviours overtly or covertly for the first time matching the behaviours of the model. For that the behaviour imitated must be within the capacity of the imitator. People learn to imitate by simple or instrumental conditioning and by trial and error as a means of satisfying their needs. Imitation is also a product of learning and is a means of facilitating further learning.
Some factors affecting imitation:
Some factors are associated with imitation. One of these is the consequences of the response to the model and to the observer. Another is characteristic of the observer. Consequences of the responses may be examined in terms of rewards and punishments. Imitation is facilitated when the model, in the presence of the observer, is rewarded for certain behaviour. Imitation is hindered when the model is punished or disregarded.
Characteristics of the observer are also related to imitative behaviour. The more imitative are those persons who lack self-esteem and competence because they have experienced too few rewards of their own. They are dependent on the model more for matching behaviour than those who believe themselves to be similar to the models in some attributes and are self- confident.
Being emotionally aroused probably increases the likelihood of imitation.
Such arousal can come through the stresses of external situations or for some other extraordinary circumstances like use of drugs etc. But it should be noted that imitation is one of the means of learning and not an end in itself; it is not simply a tendency to copy blindly the action of others.
Imitation is a more effective means of attaining prestige, social acceptance and security, developing conforming behaviour as well as achieving motor and social skills. Imitation makes such behaviours easily and more effectively possible than by blind trial and error process.
Now the question is: how does imitation operate?
Some imitation is the result of simple conditioning. Such imitation, like most causes of simple conditioning, is inclined to be mechanical, stereotyped and often irrational. It develops on the basis of simple contiguity of stimuli.
Much of the imitation of lower animals is probably learned by such simple conditioning. For the very young children also, simple conditioning is at the root of imitative behaviour. Mother’s fear of insects develop fear in her children through simple conditioning. Some of the imitative responses proved to be useful, but many are not. Many of them are acquired without the learners being aware of the fact.
On the other hand, imitation can be acquired on the basis of trial and error, and instrumental conditioning. Such learning is based largely upon the reinforcement of activities that are like the activities of others who are present or the actions seen and heard (observational learning).
These observed activities are copied and perpetuated because they were rewarded or were pain-avoiding in their consequence. Imitation is a kind of social learning, it will be discussed as a part of social learning theory in details in the theory section.
2. Cognitive Learning:
Cognition is “Knowing”. Cognitive processes include perceiving, remembering, recognizing, judging and reasoning. These categories involve the entire group of processes whereby information about the world is acquired, remembered, recognized or transformed so that it may be applied in situations other than the ones in which the original learning occurred.
Cognitive processes can function at all levels of awareness. It is a conscious experience, and always involves some degree of awareness.
As a result of learning, a person may abstract a principle based on his awareness, forming a percept and behave in terms of that principle, without being able to formulate it verbally. High levels of awareness and the verbal formulation of perceptual and conceptual principles facilitate their development and transfer to other situations.
The cognitive processes include perceiving, learning, retention, recalling, recognizing, conceptualizing, judging and reasoning, acquisition of percepts and concepts and their use in problem-solving and creative processes. Percepts and concepts are the products of learning. They represent the retained and organized effects of past experience.
Sometimes they are derived from formal education, but they are also distillations from the totality of one’s experiences. According to James (1892) experiences at first may seem to be consisting of a “buzzing, blooming confusion”. But he assures that perception, retention and recall are organizing and transforming processes.
Cognition always represents some degree of generalization and abstraction (learning) forming concepts and percepts. Conception and perception, as product of learning, involve responding to objects, people and situations in terms of their similarities rather than their differences. As compared with concepts, percepts are more specific, more stimulus-bound and closely tied to immediate sensory experience.
Perceptions and cognitions also have behavioural implications. Cognitive processes are the intellectual or knowledge components of experiences and are, therefore, capable of learning. They accompany an affective consequence, either pleasant or unpleasant and contain some explicit or implicit predictive implications that evoke certain behavioural gestures.
That equates the cognitive process with the development of attitude.
We have already mentioned that the cognitive processes are organizing processes. While organizing, the cognitive processes use learning in the way of establishing an order in them. A person’s cognitions are indicative of how he has learned to break his experiential world into parts and then tie up these parts together to form the whole process corresponding to the culturally transmitted patterns. It is assumed that these patterns are internalized by the person when acquired as part of one’s socialization.
These patterns are nothing but organized experiences, (product of learning) in the form of concept and percept which are conscious and self- organizing. Some of this organization is reflected in our language patterns. Therefore, Bruner and others stated that “perception and cognition always go beyond the information given in the immediate situation. Perception represents sumtototal of the relevant retained and organized effects of the past experience”. These effects manifest themselves in terms of associative meanings, conceptual and perceptual categories.
It has already been stated that cognitions are products of learning as well as means of further learning. It differs from acquisition of skills and motor responses only in degree. However, there are differences between rote learning and meaningful learning, between the acquisition of specific motor responses and the development of perceptual patterns, between the learning of isolated facts and the patterning of concepts into a hierarchy of conceptual systems.
Conditioning, trial and error, imitation and insight are all involved in cognitive learning, of which insight can be equated with cognitive learning, because insights by definition,, are cognitive processes. Insightful learning is cognitive learning. So is reasoning, as contrasted with blind, rote or mechanical learning. Cognitive learning extracts, stores, retrieves and makes use of information provided by each experience in problem-solving and in rational control of behaviour. Formal education attempts to make learning more cognitive and less mechanical and blind.
Learning involving reasoning—popularly known as problem-solving—which makes use of concepts in ideational problem-solving process. Practically all forms of learning can be conceived of as problem-solving process. They may be motor, ideational or both. The development of insights is the key issue here. It involves the discovery and understanding of the principles necessary for problem-solving.
Cognitive learning is concerned with both ideational and creative problem- solving. Cognitive learning in problem-solving needs analysis of problem and influence of “mental sets”. The “mental set”, as used in cognitive learning to solve problems, refers to a preparatory adjustment or “response readiness” which predisposes the individual to respond in a given way cognitively.
In the creative process, the problem considers perceptual and conceptual systems and mental sets as crucial. The starting point for most learning and problem-solving is some source of motivation. The motivation for creative problem-solving seems to be dominantly intrinsic and autonomous. Reinforcement is involved in developing and sustaining creative activity. Although creative problem-solving and thinking is said to be divergent rather than convergent in nature, both elements are present in ideational and creative problem-solving. “Psychological freedom” is conducive to creativity.
Achieving a sudden, apparently instantaneous solution to a problem, characterized by perceiving relationships between different parts of the problem which had not been perceived before, is termed as “insightful learning” by the Gestalt psychologists. Insight is a common subjective experience among humans as well as in animals. The principle of insight in learning will be discussed more in the theory section run on.