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PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING

Introduction:
Imagine doing something without general guidelines. Would it be easier because it is
more flexible and free? Or would it be confusing because there are no specific set of
rules to be observed? I guess the latter makes more sense.
Learning process is not so different from other processes, or from doing anything. It
needs general guidelines to make it more effective.
Principles of Learning, which is also referred as Laws of Learning is a set of principles
or laws that educational psychologists and pedagogues identified and believed to be
generally applicable to the learning process. These laws have been discovered, tested,
and used in practical situations.

Readings:
Edward Thorndike, an American psychologist initially set down three principles on the
early 20th century. Through time, three more have been added to these principles of
learning. They are as follows: law of readiness, law of exercise, law of effect, law of
primacy, law of recency, and law of intensity.

Law of Readiness - The Law of Readiness means a person can learn when physically
and mentally adjusted (ready) to receive stimuli. Individuals learn best when they are
ready to learn, and they will not learn much if they see no reason for learning. If trainees
have a strong purpose, a clear objective and a sound reason for learning, they usually
make more progress than trainees who lack motivation. When trainees are ready to

learn, they are more willing to participate in the learning process, and this simplifies the
instructor's job. If outside responsibilities or worries weigh heavily on trainees' minds or
if their personal problems seem unsolvable, they may have little interest in learning.

Law of Exercise - he Law of Exercise stresses the idea that repetition is basic to the
development of adequate responses; things most often repeated are easiest
remembered. The mind can rarely recall new concepts or practices after a single
exposure, but every time it is practiced, learning continues and is enforced. The
instructor must provide opportunities for trainees to practice or repeat the task.
Repetition consists of many types of activities, including recall, review, restatement,
manual drill and physical application. Remember that practice makes permanent, not
perfect unless the task is taught correctly.

Law of Effect - This law involves the emotional reaction of the learner. Learning will
always be much more effective when a feeling of satisfaction, pleasantness, or reward
accompanies or is a result of the learning process. Learning is strengthened when it is
accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling and that it is weakened when it is
associated with an unpleasant experience. An experience that produces feelings of
defeat, frustration, anger or confusion in a trainee is unpleasant. Instructors should be
cautious about using negative motivation. Usually it is better to show trainees that a
problem is not impossible, but is within their capability to understand and solve.

Law of Primacy - This law states that the state of being first, often creates a strong,
almost unshakeable impression. For the instructor, this means that what they teach the
first time must be correct. If a subject is incorrectly taught, it must be corrected. It is
more difficult to un-teach a subject than to teach it correctly the first time. For the
trainees' first learning experience should be positive and functionally related to training.

Law of Recency - Things most recently learned are best remembered, while the things
learned some time ago are remembered with more difficulty. It is sometimes easy, for
example, to recall a telephone number dialed a few minutes ago, but it is usually
impossible to recall a telephone number dialed a week ago. Review, warm-ups, and
similar activities are all based on the principle that the more recent the exercise, the
more effective the performance. Practicing a skill or new concept just before using it will
ensure a more effective performance. Instructors recognize the law of recency when
they plan a lesson summary or a conclusion of the lecture. Repeat, restate, or
reemphasize important matters at the end of a lesson to make sure that trainees
remember them instead of inconsequential details.

Law of Intensity - The principle of intensity states that if the stimulus (experience) is
real, the more likely there is to be a change in behavior (learning). A vivid, dramatic or
exciting learning experience teaches more than a routine or boring experience. A trainee
will learn more from the real thing than from a substitute. Demonstrations, skits, and
models do much to intensify the learning experiences of trainees.

Insights:
This Principles of Learning might seem so simple, but neglecting one may result to
some unwanted outcomes. For example, others may think that the law of readiness is
just about the age, but in reality, it is about the mental state of the learner. Failure to
conform to this law may cause childs self-disappointment because he cannot learn
simply because he is not ready yet. Another example, teachers may think that it is fine
to give wrong information to children since they know nothing of it yet. But according to
the law of primacy, it is always important that the childs initial exposure to something
must be correct for what is learned the first time is often remembered and what is
already learned is difficult to unlearn.

These principles, simple it may seem but all teachers should know it. Educators must be
armed with it to inculcate learning without teaching wrong or making any harm to
students.

References:
http://www.slideshare.net/alvinzalzos/principles-of-learning
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principles_of_learning#Readiness
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Thorndike#Thorndike.27s_theory_of_learning
http://faculty.coe.uh.edu/smcneil/cuin6373/idhistory/laws_of_learning.html
http://www.drillpad.net/DP_IRL_Laws.htm
http://dgwaymade.blogspot.com/2010/10/thorndikes-laws-of-learning-and-its.html