Self Paced

The Psychology of Learning and Behavior (

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This course introduces learners to the principles of learning and behavior by surveying relevant theoretical and empirical approaches within psychology. The overall emphasis is on the theoretical foundations of psychology as they relate to human learning and behavior.

The following topics will be reviewed: historical perspectives of early learning theories, prevailing theories of human development, classical and operant conditioning, effects stimuli have on learning and behavior, social learning, motivation, cognitive developmental theory in the context of learning stages and processes, memory and human information processing models, and problem-solving methods. Understanding these human processes is an integral part of psychology and other domains of human behavior, such as marketing, sports, health, education and relationships. Learning theories are an outgrowth from philosophies of thought. The philosophical approaches of rationalism and empiricism, and the works of Plato and Descarte form the underpinnings of learning theory. However, developments in psychology added an interest in objectivity and scientific research to demarcate the psychological approach to learning. From this impulse stemmed the classical conditioning of Pavlov and the operant conditioning of Skinner. These early theorists formed the foundation from which we view learning theory today. Although the early work of the behaviorists demonstrates a strong emphasis on objective measurement of behaviors during the learning process, these observations cannot always fully explain human learning. In other words, human learning cannot be fully captured by assessment of observable behaviors. Thus, the integration of internal cognitive processes and external social contexts provide a more accurate depiction of the full learning process. Learning theory captures the integration of all these perspectives and a full understanding of human learning necessitates a review of all these domains, which we will seek to do in this course.

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

- Identify major historical timelines and perspectives associated with learning theory.

- Explain foundational concepts associated with learning theory.

- Integrate common principles of learning theory into larger domains of psychology.

- Align major theorists with specific contributions to psychology of learning and behavior.

- Analyze and describe empirical research as it relates to effectiveness of learning and behavior management techniques.

- Identify the utilization of psychology of learning and behavior in domains outside the field of psychology.

Course Requirements: have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” of the Psychology discipline: Introduction to Psychology, Research Methods, and Research Methods Lab.