Learning: Definition, Essentials, and Process
Concept of learning
Learning is a change in behavior due to experience with a view to adjustment. It brings some modification in the behavior and once learned, an individual is capable of retaining it for at least a certain period. Thus, it brings relatively a permanent behavior change. Learning is not a futile exercise. It is usually need-directed. In most cases, change brought by learning has a direction that satisfies the current motivating conditions of the individual. The particularly important aspect of the definition of learning is that it permits us to distinguish between performance changes due to maturation and those changes brought about by experience.
“Learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of potentially that results from reinforced practice or experience.”
Steers and Porter:
“Learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior potentially that results from reinforced practice or experience.”
Learning is a prerequisite for behavior. For example, an employee’s skills, a manager’s attitudes, and styles, and a receptionist’s manners are all learned. From the HRM point of view, a manager needs to understand and predict the behavior of his/her employees. Thus, a good manager needs to understand how learning occurs or how people learn and what they learn, and why.
Essentials of Learning
Some of the important essentials of learning are:
Learning is a behavior change, for better or worse. It may be good or bad from the organizational point of view. For example, bad habits, prejudice, stereotype, etc. can also be learned.
2. Relatively permanent:
For learning to occur, the behavior change must be relatively permanent. Temporary changes may be only reflexive and fail to represent any learning.
Some form of experience is necessary for learning to occur. For example, the ability to work that is based on maturation, disease, or physical damages would not be considered learning.
The practice of learning must be reinforced so that learning occurs. If reinforcement does not accompany the practice or experience the behavior will eventually disappear.
Process of Learning
Four steps are necessary for learning to take place. They are:
For learning to take place, there should be a stimulus that is clear to the learner. If employees do not understand the stimulus offered by management, they will not be ready to learn.
It is the second step in learning. In other words, it is the outcome of the first step. Here, response means the act or activity the learner has to perform. The employee should be allowed and encouraged to practice the performance response.
3. Motivation or drive:
Learning cannot take place without motivation or drive. Motivation involves interest and the attitude to learn. If the individual does not want to learn, he is unlikely to learn even though he possesses the adequate capacity to learn and understand what is being taught.
4. Reward or incentive:
It refers to what satisfies a motive. For example, praise is the incentive that satisfies the motive of social approval. For learning to be effective, the learner should be rewarded or at least has an impression that he will be rewarded in course of time.