NATURE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF LEARNING

The changes brought in our behaviour through learning by all means are accounted as an acquired phenomenon. Learning in this way cannot be attributed to the hereditary influences. It is earned and acquired by us like other attributes of our personality and that is why all types of learning are given a common name, i.e. acquired behaviour. It has its special nature and characteristics, a glimpse of which you may find through the following description
(1) Learning is the change in behaviour:
(2) Change in behaviour caused by learning is relatively enduring or permanent:
(3) Learning is a continuous lifelong process:
(4) Learning is a universal process:
(5) Learning is purposive and goal directed:
(6) Learning involves reconstruction of experiences:
(7) Learning is the product of activity and environment:
(8) Learning is transferable from one situation to another:
(9) Learning does not necessarily imply improvement:     
(10) Learning does not necessarily imply the development in right direction:  
(11) Learning helps in bringing desired changes in behaviour: 
(12) Learning helps in the attainment of teaching–learning objectives: 
(13) Learning helps in the proper growth and development: 
(14) Learning helps in the balanced development of personality: 
(15) Learning helps in proper adjustment:
(16) Learning helps in the realisation of the goals of life: 
(17) Learning is a very comprehensive process, possessing a quite wide scope: 


(1) Learning is the change in behaviour: 
Learning in its any form or shape is always associated with some or the other changes in learner’s behaviour. That is why learning is always directed or aimed at bringing changes in learner’s behaviour. However, these changes in learner’s behaviour should always be desirable ones. The undesirable changes, if allowed to happen, prove detrimental to the welfare of the learner as well as to the society. 

(2) Change in behaviour caused by learning is relatively enduring or permanent: 
Change in behaviour caused by learning is neither too permanent (as caused through maturation) nor too temporary (as caused by the factors like fatigue, illness, etc.). Those lie between these two states and are usually referred to as relatively permanent changes implying that although frequent or unwanted changes in the learned behaviour cannot take place yet the needed changes can be introduced in the manner such as getting rid of the bad habits or unlearning a wrong method of doing things, etc. 

(3) Learning is a continuous lifelong process: 
Learning is not inherited yet its beginning can be very well made right from the conception of the child. The environment available in the womb of the mother may work as facilitator for such learning. We have Abhimanyu before us as an example who was able to learn the art of Chakravueh Bhedan from his father Arjuna while being in the womb of his mother Shubhadra. The process of learning after birth picks up a greater speed with the constant interaction and stimulation received from the physical, social, cultural and environmental forces and it does not stop till one’s death. We have enough evidences for the fact that one activity leads to another and the individual engages himself to learn more and more. New problems are faced, every day new situations are created and the individual has to face these situations and bring essential changes in his behaviour. Thus, it is a never ending process and it is why we refer that it goes from womb to tomb. 

(4) Learning is a universal process:
We all the living creatures on the earth have the abilities and capacities for learning irrespective of the nature of our species, caste, colour, sex, geographical location or other such individual differences. Therefore the myths like members of the upper castes especially Brahmins have more capacity of learning than the members belonging to the lower castes and untouchables, women have inferior learning capacity to men, or the blacks possess subnormal capacities for learning in comparison to whites, etc. have no substantial ground. On the contrary, the truth is that every living being on the earth has been favoured by the nature to possess the capacity to learn according to the species specific characteristics and environment as well as opportunities available for learning. 

(5) Learning is purposive and goal directed: 
All learning is goal-directed. It is the definiteness of the aim and clear understanding of the purpose which makes an individual learn immediately the techniques of performing a particular task. It is the purpose or goal which determines what he sees in the learning situations and how he acts therein. Therefore, the purpose or goal is the pivot around which the entire system of learning revolves. In case where there is no purpose, there would hardly be any learning. 

(6) Learning involves reconstruction of experiences: 
We learn something at a particular stage and it is accumulated in the store of our learning experiences in the shape of previous experience or learning for the learning of a future task. However, what has been learnt by us at a particular occasion, always remains in the state of modification in the light of the new or richer experiences gained by us in this respect. As a result the old learning is replaced by the new learning and our previous experiences are restructured and reorganised for giving birth to a new structure composed of the reconstructed experiences. It is therefore education, i.e. the process of learning is often referred to as the process of continuous reconstruction of experiences. 

(7) Learning is the product of activity and environment: 
The basic condition of the emergence of any learning essentially lies in one’s active response to the stimuli received from one’s environment. In case the child is not willing to respond to the stimuli received from his learning environment, he cannot be persuaded to proceed on the path of his learning. More the learner will actively respond to the stimuli received from his learning environment the more he will be able to progress in terms of his learning. Therefore the key to success in any teaching- learning process always lies in the active response of the learner to the stimuli received or the activities going on in the teaching-learning environment. 

(8) Learning is transferable from one situation to another: 
Learning has a special characteristic of being transferred from one learning situation to another having positive as well as negative effect. In its positive transfer the learning in one situation helps the learning in another situation but in the case of negative transfer we may observe the adverse effect when learning in one situation hinders or obstructs the path of learning in another situation. 

(9) Learning does not necessarily imply improvement: 
Learning is often considered as a process of improvement with practice or training. This means that all types of learning help the child in the path of his progress towards desired results. But this is not always true. The child learns many things in the classroom that do not help him at all to achieve his goal. Habits of idleness, disrespect towards authority, truancy, developing poor handwriting, defective pronunciation and exposition, etc. are among those. Therefore, it should be clearly understood that learning does not necessarily imply improvement (with respect to the achievement of an end). 

(10) Learning does not necessarily imply the development in right direction: 
In a similar way, while defining learning as a process of development, the word ‘development’ should never be misunderstood as ‘progress in right direction to achieve certain ends or results.’ As Woodworth clarifies in his definition (see definition no. 3 given earlier), as a result of learning the pattern of development is free to move to either direction—positive or negative. There is no guarantee that the individual will always pick up good knowledge, desirable habits, interest and attitudes. He has equal chances to be drifted to the debit side of the human personality. 

(11) Learning helps in bringing desired changes in behaviour: 
Learning is the process of bringing changes in behaviour. It can help bring desired changes in the behaviour of the learner in all its three domains, i.e. cognitive, conative and affective. 

(12) Learning helps in the attainment of teaching–learning objectives: 
The teaching–learning objectives and teaching–learning situation can be effectively achieved through the help of learning and consequently the children can be made to acquire essential knowledge, skills, applications, attitude and interests, etc. 

(13) Learning helps in the proper growth and development: 
Learning helps in attaining one’s maximum growth and development from various aspects of growth and development dimensions namely physical, mental (cognitive), emotional, social, moral, aesthetic and lingual. 

(14) Learning helps in the balanced development of personality: 
Our educational efforts are directed to bring an all-round development in the personality of a child. The process of learning results in bringing such development of the personality. 

(15) Learning helps in proper adjustment: Adjustment is the key to success in life. Learning helps the individual to seek adjustment with oneself and environment. 

(16) Learning helps in the realisation of the goals of life: 
Every person has his own philosophy and style of life and he strives to achieve the goals of his life. Learning process helps the individual realise the goals of his life. 

(17) Learning is a very comprehensive process, possessing a quite wide scope: 
The world of learning is considered to be limited to the walls of the classroom concerning with intellectual and motor efficiency. It is often thought of as the acquisition of some knowledge and skills, memorisation of certain facts and principles, development of reasoning and thinking power, etc. These are some of the learning activities which are formally conducted inside the classroom or in any arranged learning situation. But learning is not only limited to these activities. It is a very comprehensive process which covers nearly all the aspects of the human personality. Its scope includes aspects like formation of habits, development of interests, attitudes, sense of appreciation and critical observation, acquisition of beliefs, perfection of values and ideals and setting of the goals and purposes. 

Therefore, learning as a whole is not confined to the formal classroom learning activities. Life presents enormous opportunities to learn and learning activities are so numerous that it is difficult to limit them in specific categories. How one eats, drinks, dresses, what his specific hobbies are, interests, attitudes, beliefs and aspirations, how he strives and what ideals and values he aims at, what his concept of himself is, etc., all are examples of learned and acquired behaviour. And the scope of learning definitely includes all these aspects.
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