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Highlight the main processes involved in learning by association and learning by trial and error.

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Introduction

Highlight the main processes involved in learning by association and learning by trial and error. Briefly discuss the implications on such learning processes of (a) research showing infants' preference for specific stimuli, (b) research on cognitive map, and (c) Erikson's view of personality development in the first two stages. Learning is recognized as the higher-order cognitive processes of apprehending and acquiring knowledge about the world (Kvan E, 2001:29-30). Brain is the main organ to be used in processing the input-and-output data from which perception and memory are the important factors in the learning process (Kvan E, 2001:29-30). In the following context the main processes involved in learning by association and learning by trial and error will be highlighted. In the second part of the question, we will briefly discuss the implications on such learning processes of research showing infants' preference for specific stimuli, research on cognitive map, and Erikson's view of personality development in the first two stages. Ivan Pavlov who developed classical conditioning, an influential work of learning, by adopting Aristotle's basis idea of 'association', which refers to put the relative things together in people's minds in order to make them in connection with each other. Furthermore, the application of the general scientific approach to conduct the experiments and studies by following the principle of the complex processes that are the combination of their constituent parts. Pavlov's work can be divided into four parts (= four simple units of learning) that are 'conditioning', 'higher order conditioning', 'extinction' and 'generalization and discrimination' (Kvan E, 2001:41) and will be explored as follows: Apparently 'conditioning' was built as the fundamental part to dictate the reflex to the other parts in Pavlov's work, which regulated the procedure from Stage 1 to Stage 4 (Kvan E, 2001:41). Pavlov confined the environment as a control in the laboratory to run his study by using a dog to support and substantiate this part of his work (conditioning). Undoubtedly, the rules regulated in the laboratory were essential to comply with. ...read more.

Middle

When child is trained to urinate under the control of the word before placing on the potty, the higher order conditioning may occur because urination is recognized as the involuntary response. (Kvan E, 2001:37). Consequently, child learns the association between the control of word for urination and the potty, which was recognized by Pavlov as a difficult learning process that may involve the complex cognitive processes such as knowledge and understanding. Edward Thorndike conducted experiments on the hungry cats to examine the learning process and the learning behaviour by the constrained of operant or instrumental conditioning (Kvan E, 2001:38-39). The emergence of the close relationship between situation, response and stimulus were noted. The experimental environment was in the laboratory. The equipment was a 'puzzle box' with a lever (= a movable bar) as the only way to escape and the provision of a plate of fish as a reward to be placed outside the box. The cat was put into the puzzle box for the first trial, it took a long time to escape from the lever and eat the fish. Subsequently, the cat was put back into the box for the second trial, it took a little shorter time to complete the mission. The repetitions of the trial were being operated for a few days. Finally, the cat took very little time to complete its mission. Apparently, the consumption of time to escape was gradually shortened. The result showed that the cat had made many mistakes and had taken many trials such as scratching, biting and striking the lever in order to find its way to escape and eat the fish. Thorndike called the learning process as the 'trial and error' learning (Kvan E, 2001:38). Thorndike also summed up his many experiments that the association between trial and error learning (= learning processes) and the law of effect (= learning behaviour) exists. 'Law of effect' means the preparation and intention to repeat some actions when the situation arises again because people have experienced the positive outcomes with satisfying results such as praised by others (Kvan E, 2001:38). ...read more.

Conclusion

Although infant cannot speak, crying is a kind of instruments to express and request their hopes or desires such as loving care and attention. Baby may decide to trust people whom can cater his/her needs, if not, the reverse will be found. Therefore, infant learns the conflicts between trust and mistrust in this stage (Kvan E, 2001:76). When infant grows up and reach to the stage of early childhood (i.e. toddlers), s/he is recognized as smarter than the previous stage because s/he can gain control over his/her body independently in this stage. Undoubtedly, the regulations of acceptable behaviour are essential and appropriate to guide children to comply with. Support is indeed significant to the child to develop self-confidence in their behaviour, if not, the response of shame will be found. Therefore, child in the early childhood learns the conflicts between autonomy and shame or doubt (Kvan E, 2001:76). Erikson's view of personality development is specific with the association of particular crisis and particular outcome of crisis happened differently in each stage of life (Kvan E, 2001:76). A number of inner and outer conflicts are doomed to be met throughout the life span (Kvan E, 2001:76). Obviously, the simplest form of learning such as learning by association and learning by trial and error was thought to be associative learning by the psychologists (Kvan E, 2001:41). The experiments by Pavlov, Thorndike and Skinner have shown that animals and human beings can learn to react to new things through associates with older reactions (Kvan E, 2001:41). Therefore, the interaction between stimulus (i.e. rewards) and response is indispensable. It is suggested that such learning processes are only acted as a yardstick or milestone to be adopted in the aspects of other research studies such as the infant's preference, cognitive map and personality development in each stage. Owing to many different kinds of variations are available, the laboratory experiments can only teach us what the subjects can do but not to reflect they are normally do (Kvan E, 2001:41) and the limitations can be found. ...read more.

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