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Memory, Motivation And Other Learning Theories

1519 words - 6 pages

As the number of adults taking up higher education increase, either because of demands on the job or because of pure interest, an understanding of what compels adults to have a positive attitude towards learning becomes vital. An idealized myth persists as an academic orthodoxy in adult education; that adult learning is naturally a joyous experience; that adults are inherently self-directed as learners; that good educational practice always meets the needs articulated by the learners themselves. Of course, this myth is not necessarily true among adult learners. Several variables can affect adult education. While age comes up as the obvious variable affecting adult learning, other variable come into play as well. Across an adult's life span, such variables as culture, ethnicity, personality, politics assume a great significance when explaining how learning happens and is experienced (Brookfield, 1995).Attitude and LearningDefined as the disposition to respond positively or negatively towards an idea, object, person, or situation, attitude has a great effect on learning. Attitudes are related to opinions and beliefs and experiences and importantly, also in interaction with others. Learning involves a great deal of acquiring or changing attitudes.Hull studied intervening variables that affected such behavior as initial drive, incentives, inhibitors and prior training. (Hull, 1940, 1943). Reinforcement was the main determinant of learning. In Hull's theory, the habit strength hierarchy for a given stimulus creates different responses from an organism. The probability of change in a specific response becomes likely because of rewards. This is also affected by other variables such as inhibition. Intended as a general theory of learning, Hull's theory involves a number of relevant principles.•Hull's theory surmised that drive is essential for responses to occur. The student must have the will, must want to learn.•Stimuli and responses must be detected by the organism for conditioning to occur. The student must be attentive.•A response must be made for conditioning to occur. The student must be active, participative.•Conditioning happens only if there is reinforcement that satisfies a particular need.Hull's theory provided the basis for one of the pioneering major theories of attitude change. This was oriented towards the effects of persuasive communication by Howland, Janis, and Kelly (1953). This theory states that changes in opinions can lead to attitude change with the presence or absence of rewards. Learning new attitudes is similar to any verbal or motor skills. Opinions however are related to a single proposition not a series of propositions. Accepting a new opinion and the consequent attitude formation depends on the rewards or incentives offered in communication.Festinger (1953) offered cognitive dissonance as a theory to explain attitude change. As per the theory, individuals seek consistency among the various...

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