Principles of Learning

Learning principles are the proving guidelines in the learning process. The application of these principles assists managers, training instructors and individuals working in the organization to gain knowledge of how to learn and get its benefits to influence behavior. The major principles of learning are as follows:
  1. Principles of Reinforcement: Reinforcement is the attempt to develop or strengthen desirable behavior by either bestowing positive consequences or withholding negative consequences. Positive reinforcement results from the application of a positive consequence following a desirable behavior. Bonuses paid at the end of successful business years are an example of positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement results from withholding a threatened negative consequence when a desirable behavior occurs. For example, if the boss imposes a penalty on an employee for coming late is an example of negative reinforcement. 
  2. Principles of Punishment: Punishment is yet another way of changing human behavior. It is inverse of the reward. The purpose of punishment is to eliminate or weaken an undesirable behavior. It is done in two ways. One way to punish a person is through the application of a negative consequence following an undesirable behavior. For example, a football player who is excessively offensive to the referee in the football ground (undesirable behavior) may be rejected from the game (negative consequence). The second way to be used to punish the person is through the withholding of a positive consequence following in undesirable behavior. For example, a sales representative who makes few visits to companies and in turn, make sales below quota (undesirable behavior) is given less commission (positive consequence).
  3. Principles of motivation: Whether it is learning in the classroom or workplace, if people themselves are not sufficiently motivated to learn for goal achievement and development, there will be no productivity, career development and other forms of development. However, one can not be forced to learn. Learning needs motivation on the part of the learner in order to exert a high level of effort.
  4. Principles of practice: The most useful way to learn is implicit learning i.e. the experiential way we acquires information about relationships in the environment without any conscious attempt to do so. Implicit learning occurs when we directly interact with the environmental forces, competitors, customers, supervisors and so on. One popular form of practice learning is action learning.
  5. Principles of feedback: There is a set of feedback rules to enhance learning. Examples are, be specific, non judgmental, express your own feelings etc and so forth. With the application of these sets of effective feedback, one can learn in the organization too.
  6. Principle of Generalization: The principle states that the learned behavior should be generalized i.e. to respond of two different stimuli in a uniform manner. Learners must transfer what they have learned to actual working environment if not such learning would be useless for the individual as well as for the organization. For example: the skill learned by an employee in training workshop has to be generalized at actual work floor.
  7. Principle of Learning Practice: The principle states that learning beings rapidly then plateaus. It states that at the beginning phase of learning, the learning is at faster rate, then as the time increases, the rate of learning will decline until a plateau is reached.

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