Here is a term paper on ‘Learning’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short term papers on ‘Learning’ especially written for school and college students.

Term Paper # 1. Meaning of Learning:

It is the simple way of enduring change in behaviour brought about as a consequence of experience. This definition of learning given by F. H. Sanford implies it is not possible to see someone learning but it is possible to see the changes in behaviour. It is not directly observable. Learning may result in favourable or unfavourable behaviour.

The change in the learner is relatively permanent. This relative permanence of change implies reinforcement without which learned behaviour will vanish. Change in behaviour is the result of learning and this improves performance.


For learning to occur some kind of experience is necessary. The occurrence of experience is accomplished directly by observation or practice and indirectly through reading. In essence it is important that experience leads to an enduring change in behaviour.

Behavioural changes may occur due to:

(a) Maturity and age.  

(b) Instinctive reflexes internal response to changes and


(c) Temporary factors like fatigue, habituation, drugs etc., but behavioural changes which occur due to learning are different from the behavioural changes from factors listed above as it stems from an individual’s experience with an environment.

Learning cannot take place unless the learner actually experiences what has to be learnt.

Term Paper # 2. Steps in Learning:

There are four steps in learning.

They are:


1. Stimulus

2. Response

3. Motivation or drive

4. Reward or incentive


1. Stimulus:

There should be a stimulus which is clear to the learner. In a work environment this is provided by communication from the management and the employees should understand it. Employees performance will focus on areas specified in the communication.

2. Response:

This means the act which the learner has to perform. Normally employees are to be allowed and encouraged to practice the performance response.


3. Motivation:

There should be motivation which should precede learning. If the drive for learning is lacking then he is unlikely to learn even though he possesses the adequate capacity to learn and understand. Motivation involves interest and attitude to learn.

4. Reward:

It is the incentive which satisfies the motive. To make learning effective every learner is to be rewarded. The absence of reward will not encourage people to learn. The steps discussed above will have a direct bearing on training organisational settings. Training can be effective only if these steps are adhered to.

Term Paper # 3. Theories of Learning:


In psychology earning has received wide attention.

There are four major theories of learning.

They are:

1. Classical Conditioning Theory


2. Instrumental Conditioning Theory

3. Cognitive Theory

4.  Social Theory.

1. Classical Conditioning Theory:

This theory was pioneered by Pavlov who has done the fundamental research. Guthrie is responsible for developing this theory in its present form. Ivancevich J. M. Szilagyi Jr and Wallace have defined this theory as “the formation of an stimulus response link between a conditioned stimulus and a conditioned response through repeated pairing of conditioned stimulus with an un-conditioned stimulus.”

So the basic assumptions of this theory are:


(i) This theory states that classical conditioning starts from existing stimulus response condition.

(ii) This connection is based on physiology which he designated as unconditioned or unlearned.

This theory advocates two significant facilitators of learning through classical conditioning. They are:

(i) Stimulus generalisation and

(ii) Stimulus discrimination.  

In stimulus generalisation individuals respond to two different stimuli in a uniform manner on the basis of their similarities. In stimulus decimation individuals behave in a different way when they are confronted with two distinct stimuli in terms of their different characteristics. This has significant implication in organisations. So training managers are to ensure similarities between classroom conditions and work situations.


So according to classical conditioning theory repeated pairing of an unconditioned stimulus with a conditioned stimulus promotes learning.

2. Instrumental Conditioning Theory:

Other name is Operant Conditioning Theory. This theory involves reward or reinforcement for appropriate behaviour. A reward for strengthening a habit is designated as learning by instrumental conditioning. So instrumental conditioning can be defined as the learning of a habit or stimulus response connection through reward or reinforcement.

According to this theory change in behaviour takes place as a result of repeated acts which are rewarded. The main avocation of this theory is that behaviour can be shaped by rewarding selectively to achieve desired behaviour.

Thorndike introduced the Law of Effect based on Watson’s notions about the impact of reward from environment. According to this principle the Stimulus Response connection is reinforced if the response is accompanied by a “Satisfying state of affairs”. This connection is weakened if the response is not accompanied by a reward. Based on Law of Effect C.L. Hull developed a formal theory. This theory involves three significant components.

They are:


(i) Drive

(ii) Habit

(iii) Reinforcement.

(i) Drive:

It relates to the internal condition of need which can be initiated by several events. An increased level of drive energizes behaviour of an individual and takes the form of a motive. Its existence is a prerequisite for an individual to learn.

(ii) Habit: 


This relates to stimulus response connection which is learnt through conditioning. It is a conditioned connection between an environmental event (stimulus) and a response to that event. This co-relation influences the behaviour. This co-relation is the core unit of learning.

(iii) Reinforcement: 

It is the presentation of an event accompanying the desired behaviour which strengthens the habit.

Ivancevich and others describe the instrumental conditioning in the following manner:

(i) A stimulus gives rise to a motive.  

(ii) This in combination with a habit arouses a particular behaviour.


(iii) When the behaviour is accompanied by a reward it leads to satisfaction of a need or motive arousing the behaviour. This is called the Law of Effect.

(iv) Then the strengthening of habit takes place by enhancing the possibility of repetition of behaviour in similar situations as the need arises.

(v) The effect of rewarding a habit results in strengthening that habit and weakens other habits which are not rewarded. A reward strengthening habit is known as learning by instrumental conditioning.

3. Cognitive Theories:

Tolman is considered as the pioneering cognitive theorist. According to him, learning involved a relationship between cognitive environmental cues and expectations. His approach is called S.S. (Stimulus-Stimulus) approach. He tested this theory in his laboratory through controlled experiments using rats. He showed that rats learn to run through a complicated maze towards their food.

It was observed that rats developed expectations at every choice point in the maze. Thus, they learned to expect that certain cognitive cues related to the choice point could ultimately lead to the food. The relationship between the cues and the expectancy was strengthened and learning took place. The rat’s behaviour was purposive. They learned a cognitive map to determine how to reach food.

This theory is subjected to shortfalls. They are:

(i) Reinforcement failed to predict rat’s behaviour and it was no longer a prerequisite to learning.

(ii) Many of his experiments were nullified.

Besides these limitations his theory exerted a strong influence on early human relations movement. He made significant contributions to learning theory by forcing the behaviouristic theorists to evolve highly complex explanation for behaviour and indicated the need to include cognitions in a mediating role between the environmental stimulus and behaviour. This point of view was considered as a transition, integrating mechanism of learning with social learning theory.

4. Social Learning Theory:

According to this theory that learning can take place through vicarious or modelling and self-control process. The modelling process is related to observational learning.

The pioneering attempt of this theory was made by Miller and Dollard. They pointed out that learning can occur through imitating others. This was improved by Bandura. His advocation was closely related to modern modelling approach to learning. His research pointed out that people can learn from others.

In this process of learning he identified the following two steps:

(i) Every individual observes others’ behaviour and forms a mental picture of his behaviour and its outcome.

(ii) Individual performs the formed image and when the outcome is positive, he repeats it. When the outcome is negative, he does not perform it.

So modeling involves interrelationship among sub-processes including attention, retention, motoric reproduction and reinforcement.

This theory can be effectively used in Human resources management and to improve human performance. This theory has significant implications for self-control.

Term Paper # 4. Behaviour Modification:

Organisational Behaviour Modification or O.B. Mod is the application in organisations the principles of behaviour modification as advocated by B.F. Skinner. This is based on the idea that behaviour depends on its consequences so that it is possible for managers to control a number of employee behaviours by manipulating the consequences.

O.B. Mod relies heavily on the law of effect which states that a person tends to repeat behaviour that is accompanied by favourable consequences and tends not to repeat behaviour that is accompanied by unfavourable consequences. For successful application of O. B.Mod two conditions are required.

They are:

(a) Manager must identify some powerful consequences.

(b) Administer them in such a way that will see the connection between the behaviour to be effected and the consequences.

The Law of Effect comes from learning theory which suggests that we learn the best under pleasant surroundings. The content theories argue that internal needs lead to behaviour. O.B.Mod states that external consequences tend to determine behaviour. The chief merit of O.B.Mod is that it places a great degree of control in the hands of the manager.

O.B.Mod places great emphasis on the use of rewards and other alternative consequences to sustain behaviour. Before using O.B.Mod managers must decide whether they want to increase probability a person’s continued behaviour or decrease it.

After deciding their objective they have two further choices to make which determine the type of consequence to be applied. They are:

(a) Should they use a positive or negative consequence?

(b) Should they apply it or withhold it?

The answer to these alternatives is discussed below:

Behaviour is primarily encouraged through positive reinforcement. This provides a favourable consequence that encourages repetition of behaviour. Further reinforcement always should be contigent on the employee’s correct behaviour. The authorities use the term shaping to describe a systematic and progressive application of positive reinforcements.

This may be frequent, more powerful and may be successively given as one comes closer to the desired behaviour. Even though correct behaviour is not achieved to make it come closer to desired direction, shaping is encouraged by giving reinforcements.

Negative reinforcement occurs when behaviour is accompanied by unfavourable consequences. Consistent with the Law of Effect, behaviour is responsible for the removal something unfavourable is repeated when that unfavourable state is again encountered.

Punishment is the administration of an unfavourable consequence that discourages certain behaviour. Though it may be occasionally necessary to correct an undesirable behaviour it needs to be used with caution because of its limitations. Extinction is the withholding of significant positive consequences that were previously provided for desirable behaviour. This needs to be reinforced to encourage a person to repeat the action in future.

The managers can gain the benefits of extinction by simply ignoring undesirable employee behaviours. There are many other external factors which are not in the control of managers. But managers can be successful by manipulating favourable and unfavourable consequences of human behaviour.

The merits of O.B.Mod are:

(a) It encourages managers to analyse employee behaviour.

(b) Helps managers to know the frequency of its occurrence.

(c) Facilitates managers to identify specific consequences that will help to change it when they are applied systematically.

(d) If encourages managers to devote more time to monitor employee behaviours.

(e) Finally, identification of specific behaviours and desired reinforcements are properly applied, Behaviour modification can lead to substantial improvements in specific areas like absenteeism, tardiness and error rates.

The criticisms raised against it are:

(a) It forces people their behaviour by manipulations and is inconsistent with humanistic assumptions.

(b) It gives too much power to managers.

(c) Critics say that behaviour modification insults people’s intelligence. The controlled and conditioned thinking stifles individual initiative.

(d) Behaviour Modification has limited applicability to complex jobs like that of corporate lawyers, chief executives.

Term Paper # 5. Merits of Learning or Significance of Learning:

Learning is all pervasive and without it civilized life cannot exist.

This is helpful to managers in the following ways:

(a) Learning offers significant insights into controlling employee behaviour.

(b) It facilitates managers to determine the extent to which an employees’ behaviour can be attributed to learning.

(c) It helps to differentiate a skill that is acquired and that is with which one is born.

(d) This assists managers in developing the talents and skills of an employee for turning it towards performance.

(e) A proper understanding of learning will indicate why the manager’s own day-to-day behaviour strengthens, maintains, or weakness employee’s behaviour. So this facilitates the managers to improve their operating efficiency.

(f) Finally there is no area in any organisation which is not influenced by learning. Every aspect of human behaviour like knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, personality, loyalties, identification with organisational goals, job performance etc. are responsive to learning.