School of Psychology, Birkbeck College|
1st Lecture: Human Learning: Further comparisons between human, animal and machine learning
Relevant essays for human learning on the March 15th list
5. How is “conditioned fear” relevant to the understanding of the development and treatment of anxiety disorders"?
8. 'Apes cannot be taught language, but there is evidence that they have special abilities in the areas of social learning, imitation, and self-recognition.' Discuss.
9. Thorndike called himself a connectionist — is this just a co- incidence, or can comparisons be made between modern accounts of neural networks and previous theories of animal learning?
[page 1 of wk 13 handout, with added bullet points]Notes
[bottom of page 1 of wk 13 handout]1. Human Cultural Learning and Social Cognition (Tomasello et al, 1993)
A new version of the traditional theory that learning is an important feature of human cultures was put forward recently (Tomasello et al., 1993; Tomasello, 2001; Tomasello and Rakoczy, 2003; Tomasello et al., 2005; Moll & Tomasello, 2007)
[bottom of page 2 of wk 13 handout]2. The reemergence of learning theory within instructional research.
This is the title of the article by Glaser (1990), who reviewed a variety of training projects designed to inculcate skills in such specialized areas as medical diagnosis, reading comprehension or computer programming. Most of these projects made use of Computer-Aided Learning (CAL). Even with computerized training programmes there are different approaches, which correspond to different aspects of human learning, but Glaser suggests that integrating the results from a wide variety of successful methods of systematic instruction might provide an all- encompassing theory of human learning.
Certain general principles emerge from his analysis
B. Unstructured: the learner is given certain tools and then left alone.
Glaser believes that these different approaches may suit different kinds of task.
[top of page 3 of wk 13 handout]3. Anderson’s Theory of Cognitive Skill Acquisition (Anderson, 1987, 2002; Anderson & Matessa, 1997)
Anderson’s theory is one of the main ones discussed by Glaser (1990)
[bottom of page 3 of wk 13 handout]
There is no general agreement about the nature of human learning and the role it plays.
However there is current support both from developmental psychologists (Tomasello et al,
1993 Tomasello, 2001; Tomasello & Rakoczy, 2003; Leslie et
al., 2005; Matsuzawa, 2007) and those concerned with methods for the training of specific cognitive skills (Anderson, 1987,
1990; Glaser, 1990; Howe, 1998; Howe et al, 1998; Hartley, 1998; Posner &
Rothbart, 2005) for the position that
learning is a crucial factor in human psychology. It is reasonable to conclude that additional cognitive
capacities mean that the scope of human learning is radically different from that available to other
species since people can profit from instruction, both that received from others and self-instruction. But
there remain similarities between aspects of traditional theories of animal learning and certain current
approaches to human learning.
It is noteworthy, for instance, that two theoretical papers published in the Psychological Review in 2001 supported modern versions of conditioning theories of the causation and treatment of neurotic disorders (Bouton et al., 2001; Ohman and Mineka, 2001: see also Battaglia & Ogliari, 2005 and Hermans et al., 2005).
Not suprisingly, reference to human learning is continues to be common in educational contexts (Chi et al., 2001; Hammond and Bennett,, 2002; Parikh and Verma, 2002; Howe, 1998; Posner & Rothbat, 2005). In particular, systematic studies of Computer-Aided Instruction have suggested that learning is promoted by practice and goal achievement (Issroff and Scanlon, 2002) and may in some cases be assisted by immediate feedback and the minimization of errors (Glaser, 1990).
[top of page 4 of wk 13 handout]In an entirely different way, in the theoretical analysis of how learning of complex skills can be achieved by simulated neural nets, connectionist modeling rests on the assumption that learning ultimately depends on the growth of low-level associations (Week 12). However, most treatments of human learning include some reference to “high-level” abilities involved in systematic thought and the self-regulation of learning strategies (Glaser, 1990; Hartley, 1998; Tomasello et al., 1993, 2005; Tomasello & Rakoczy, 2003). In so far as these “high level” abilities are important in human learning, connectionist models are not helpful, except possibly for the purpose of explaining how the high-level abilities are implemented at the neural level.
[see also bottom of page 11]
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