Author: Mark Haselgrove
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Part of the Very Short Introductions series – that sold an impressive over seven million copies worldwide - Learning. A very short introduction is an opportunity for all readers (regardless of their level of expertise on learning) to get familiar or refresh their information on something that is central to our lives and happens every single of moment of our conscious existence: Learning.
The author attempts to answer three fundamental questions about learning: What is learning? How does it take place? What happens when it goes wrong? and makes use of a wealth of research studies and experiments to construct some potential answers to these questions. He surveys the predominantly behaviouristic research into learning, most of which is conducted, at least initially, with animals other than humans. Learning is described from the perspective of associative theories of classical and instrumental conditioning, and considers why these are the dominant, and best described analyses of learning in contemporary psychology. Tracing the origins of these theories, the book discusses the techniques used to study learning in both animals and humans, and considers the importance of learning for animal behavior and survival.
One interesting definition of learning suggested by the author is: „a relatively permanent change in behaviour as a consequence of experience”. The simplicity of this definition cannot hide its complexity. Most of the things we do as human beings are the result of one form of learning or another. And not only our species, animals prove to have ability to learn and change behaviors.
Furthermore, the author considers the significance of learning to survival for animals, who need strategies to recognize changes in their environment, both opportunities and threats, and to respond appropriately and it also comments on psychology experiments and recent studies in the field of learning.
The book is a good reading for anyone who wants to understand more about learning and it fulfils its promise of a „short introduction”.