Learning: Definition, Types, Domains, and Factors that Affect

We use the term learning all the time in everyday life, but within the field of educational psychology, this term is actually specific; different people use different words to define learning, but generally speaking, we are talking about a step-by-step process. in which individual experiences permanent and lasting changes in knowledge, behaviors or ways of processing the world.

Traditionally, research and studies on learning have focused on the early years of childhood and adolescence. However, it is now recognized that learning is an ongoing process that begins at birth and continues until death, whereby we use our experience to cope with new situations and develop relationships.

What is learning?

Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values ​​, or preferences. Humans, animals, and some machines possess the ability to learn. There is also evidence of some learning in some plants. Some learnings are immediate, induced by a single event, but many skills and knowledge accumulate from repeated experiences. Learning-induced changes often last a lifetime.

Human learning begins before birth and continues until death due to constant interactions between the person and the environment; nature and the processes involved in education are studied in many fields, including educational psychology, neuropsychology, experimental psychology, and pedagogy.

Learning can occur consciously or without conscious awareness; there is evidence of human behavioral learning prenatally. At 32 weeks of gestation, it has been observed that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and prepared for learning and memory very early in development. Children experiment with the world, learn the rules, and learn to interact with it.


Types of learning

Non-associative learning

It refers to a relatively permanent change in response strength to a single stimulus due to repeated exposure to that stimulus; factors such as sensory adaptation, fatigue, or injury do not qualify as non-associative learning. Non-associative learning can be divided into habituation and awareness.


It is an example of non-associative learning. The strength or probability decreases when the stimulus is repeated; therefore, habituation must be distinguished from extinction, an associative process. For example, a response falls into operant extinction because a reward no longer follows it.


It is an example of non-associative learning in which the progressive amplification of a response follows repeated administrations of a stimulus. An everyday example of this mechanism is the repeated tonic stimulation of the peripheral nerves if a person continuously rubs the arm. After a while, this stimulation creates a warm sensation that eventually becomes painful; the pain results from the progressively amplified synaptic response of the peripheral nerves warning that the motivation is harmful. Sensitization is believed to underlie both adaptive and maladaptive learning processes in the body.

Associative learning

It is the process by which a person or animal learns an association between two stimuli; in classical conditioning, a previously neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with a reflex-provoking stimulus until, finally, the neutral stimulus elicits a response on its own. In operant activity, a behavior that is reinforced or punished in the presence of a catalyst becomes more or less likely to occur in that stimulus.

Operant conditioning

In operant conditioning, a reinforcement (for reward) or, instead, a punishment given after a given behavior changes the frequency and form of that behavior, in the stimulus present when the behavior/consequence occurs to control these behavior modifications.

Classical conditioning

The typical paradigm for classical conditioning involves repeatedly pairing an unconditioned stimulus (which invariably evokes a thoughtful response) with another previously neutral stimulus (which does not usually stimulate the response). After conditioning, the response occurs in both the unconditioned stimulus and the other unrelated stimulus (now called “conditioned stimulus”); the response to the conditioned stimulus is called the conditioned response.

The classic example is Ivan Pavlov and his dogs. He fed his dogs meat powder, which naturally caused the dogs to salivate: salivation is a thoughtful response to meat powder. This is the unconditioned stimulus; salivation is the unconditioned response. Pavlov rang a bell before introducing the meat powder. The first time the bell rang, the neutral stimulus, the dogs did not salivate, but they began to salivate once the powdered meat was put in their mouths. After numerous bell and food pairings, the dogs realized that the bell indicated that food was coming and began to salivate when they heard the bell.

Once this occurred, the bell became the conditioned stimulus, and the salivation of the bell became the conditioned response. Classical conditioning has been demonstrated in many species. Leading article, Classical conditioning.

Visual learning

Visual learners prefer to take information using charts, maps, graphs, diagrams, etc. Using images to explain concepts and ideas is the best way to reach a visual learner. However, this type does not include photographs or videos. Instead, visual learners learn best when information is presented using patterns, shapes, and other visual aids rather than written or spoken words.

Teachers can differentiate their instruction for visual learners by using graphic organizers to teach a lesson – a flow chart could be used to explain a scientific process, for example.

Auditory learning

This learning style describes students who learn best when information is heard or spoken, benefit from lectures, group discussion, and other strategies that involve speaking in depth. People with this preference often want to resolve things by talking first, rather than resolving their ideas and then communicating. To help auditory learners learn, teachers can post audio recordings of lessons on the class website or incorporate group activities that require students to explain concepts to their classmates.

Reading / Writing Learning

Students who have a reading/writing preference prefer information to be presented in words; they love to read and perform well on written tasks such as stories or book reports; this preference emphasizes text-based input and output: reading and writing in all its forms. A great way to help these students learn is by having them describe diagrams or charts using written statements; then, they can study their notes later to retain the information.

Kinesthetic learning

Kinesthetic learners learn best when they can use tactile experiences and carry out physical activity to practice applying new information; people who prefer this mode are connected to reality through concrete personal experiences, examples, practices, or simulations. Give these students a practical example of an idea or process, or try re-enactment experiments to illustrate concepts. Knowing how to address learning needs is essential for creating meaningful experiences.

Learning domains

Benjamin Bloom has suggested three learning domains:

  • Cognitive: Remember, calculate, discuss, analyze, solve problems, etc.
  • Psychomotor: Dancing, swimming, skiing, diving, driving a car, riding a bicycle, etc.
  • Affective:  To like something or someone, love, appreciate, fear, hate, adore, etc.

These domains are not mutually exclusive. For example, when learning to play chess, the person must understand the rules (cognitive part), but he must also learn how to set up the chess pieces and how to hold and move a chess piece (psychomotor) properly; moreover, later, the person may even learn to love the game itself, value its applications in life and appreciate its history (affective dominance).

Factors that affect learning

External factors


A classroom instructor cannot change or increase inheritance, but the student can use and develop it; some students are wealthy in legacy while others are poor. Each student is unique and has different abilities; native intelligence is foreign to individuals. Heredity governs or conditions our ability to learn and the rate of learning.


The physical and home conditions also matter-specific problems such as malnutrition, that is, inadequate supply of nutrients to the body, fatigue, body weakness, and poor health are significant obstacles to learning. These are some of the physical conditions a student can be affected by. A home is a place where a family lives; if the home conditions are not adequate, the student will be seriously affected; some of the home conditions are poor ventilation, unhygienic life, bad light, etc. This affects the student and their rate of learning.

Physical environment

The design, quality, and setup of learning space, such as a school or classroom, can be critical to the success of a learning environment. Size, configuration, relaxed and comfortable air, temperature, light, acoustics, and furniture can affect learning, the tools used by both instructors and students directly affect the way information is conveyed, from the display and writing surfaces (whiteboards, markers, tack surfaces) to digital technologies.

For example, if a room is too crowded, stress levels increase, student attention is reduced, furniture arrangement is restricted, furniture is poorly arranged, sightlines for the instructor or instructional material are limited, and the ability to adapt to learning or lesson style is restricted. Aesthetics can also play a role as if student morale suffers, so does the motivation to attend school.

You can also read Dyslexia, Symptoms, Causes, Classification, And Treatments.

Internal factors

Several internal factors affect learning:

Goals or purposes

Each and everyone has a goal; a goal should be set for each student according to the expected standard. A goal is a desired outcome; there are two types of goals called immediate and distant goals, a goal that occurs or is done immediately is called a primary goal, and distant goals take time to reach. Immediate goals should be set before the young student and distant goals for older students. Goals should be specific and clear so that students understand.

Motivational behavior

Motivation means providing a motive; this behavior awakens and regulates the internal energies of the student.


This quality awakens a feeling and encourages a person to advance more in tasks; during teaching, the instructor must increase interest among students for better learning. Interest is apparent behavior (clearly seen or understood).


It is the concentration or focus of consciousness on an object or idea; if effective learning occurs, attention is essential. Instructors must secure the student’s attention.

Exercise or practice

This method includes repeating tasks “n” several times as needs, phrases, principles, etc. This makes learning more effective.


There are three types of fatigue, namely, muscular, sensory, and mental. Muscle and sensory uniforms are body fatigue; mental fatigue is in the central nervous system. The remedy is to change teaching methods, for example, use audiovisual aids, etc.


It is a condition in which the ability of an individual to acquire specific skills and knowledge through training.


It is a way of thinking; the student’s attitude must be tested to know how inclined he has to learn a subject or topic.

Emotional conditions

Emotions are physiological states of being students who answer a question correctly or perform well should be commended. This stimulus increases their capacity and helps them to produce better results. Certain attitudes are counterproductive, such as finding fault with a student’s response or provoking or embarrassing the student in front of a class.

Speed, precision, and retention

Speed ​​is the speed of movement; retention is the act of holding. These three elements depend on the aptitude, attitude, interest, attention, and motivation of the students.

Learning activities

Learning depends on the activities and experiences provided by the teacher, his concept of discipline, teaching methods, and, above all, his general personality.


Various tests measure individual student differences at the heart of effective learning; the tests help eliminate the subjective elements of measuring differences and student performance.


Everyone needs guidance somewhere or at some point in life; some need it constantly and others very rarely, depending on the conditions of the students. Young students need more guidance as it is advised to solve a problem. Direction involves the art of helping boys and girls in various academic aspects, improving vocational elements such as choosing careers, and recreational aspects such as selecting hobbies. It covers the entire range of student problems, both learning and non-learning.

Website | + posts

Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *