Theory of Learning and the Psychology Behind It

learning and psychology 3We’ve all heard the saying ‘knowledge is power’ but let’s take a deeper dive into what this means. According to VeryWell mind, educational psychology involves the study of how people learn and retain information. One man who shed significant light on this topic was early 20th-century educational psychologist, Edward Lee Thorndike. He delved into the theory of learning and the psychology behind it by formulating three laws of learning which are still relevant today – the law of readiness, the law of exercise, and the law of effect.

Learning theory and psychology

The law of readiness

This happens when students have an innate interest and passion to learn so they can acquire important knowledge and skills.  Oxford Royal Academy in the UK found the concept has been well implemented through the introduction of ‘Studio Schools’. In this learning model, students undertake work placements alongside traditional academic subjects. This new form of education helps ensure education better equips them for life outside school. Similarly, TAFEs in Australia focus on providing pupils with hands-on work experience while they learn.

The law of exercise

learning and psychology 1According to EduGyan, Thorndike’s law of exercise is based on the law of ‘use and disuse’ or in other words ‘practice makes perfect’. Repeated application of an activity or revising learning, helps ingrain knowledge in the brain and facilitates mastery of what’s learned. Nowadays, teachers and education boards are extending this concept and coupling it with other ways to make learning more effective. For example, countries like the United Kingdom and Canada have provided students with the luxury of sleeping in. Research has found this increases alertness, concentration, and the ability to retain information without the need to resort to caffeine or other negative substances.

The law of effect

EduGyan explains this concept in the sense of how success leads to satisfaction and strengthens the experience of learning, whereas failure increases dissatisfaction. The law of effect can be seen in real-life scenarios where success feels like a reward and failure like a punishment. For example, if we compare students congratulated with certificates when they get good grades with students facing detention for failing to comply with school rules, the distinction is obvious. We’ve come a long way and evolved in applying the law of effect in better ways. The birth of boarding schools for troubled kids, for instance, provides them with professional help and cultivates positive habits, alongside their academic, therapeutic, and recreational activities. 

learning and psychology 2Although Thorndike discovered the theory of learning some time ago, it still applies today. It’s important to start applying these concepts in childhood and help kids benefit from the psychology of learning. The World Literacy Foundation is committed to making this happen by providing education and literacy programs to disadvantaged kids across the globe so the laws of readiness, effect, and exercise can begin at an early age!