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In the current essay we will critically discuss the statement: 'It is more important for HRD practitioners to facilitate informal learning than it is to provide formal training opportunities'. The current statement reflects the formal and informal learning, advantages, disadvantages and the reference to the theories that describe the process of learning. Formal, as well as informal learning may represent the fundamental knowledge that will be essential for the rest of the life. Facilitating the informal learning can be much more effective than providing the formal learning, as there are many aspects of life that by using the informal learning and different sources can provide a person with the more useful information and make him more successful and updated in the majority of the areas of interest.
Theories of Learning are reflected by: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Adult and Experiential Learning and Situated Learning.
Behaviorism (Classical conditioning (Pavlov), Operant conditioning (Skinner)).
BehaviorismÂ isÂ also calledÂ behavior and represents theÂ setÂ of psychological theoriesÂ (amongÂ them theÂ behavior analysis,Â psychologyÂ lens)Â postulate thatÂ the behaviorÂ asÂ theÂ mostÂ suitableÂ object ofÂ studyÂ inÂ psychology.Â BehaviorÂ is usually defined byÂ meansÂ ofÂ analytic unitsÂ responsesÂ andÂ stimuli. Historically,Â theÂ observation andÂ
description of the behaviorÂ had opposedÂ theÂ use ofÂ the methodÂ of introspection.
In response to the current Behaviorism, it was inspired by the philosophical, Burrhus F.Â Skinner, who published in 1945 the book Science and Human Behavior.Â The publication of this book marks the beginning of the chain known as radical behaviorism behaviorist, according to Skinner, B.F. (1938).Â Radical Behaviorism was developed not as a field of experimental research, but a proposal for a philosophy of human behavior.Â Experimental studies are the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, as part of the practical applications of Applied to Behavior Analysis.Â Radical Behaviorism was a philosophy of science of behavior. Skinner was strongly anti-mentalist, or deemed not pragmatic notions "internalist" ("entities" mental "as the origin of behavior, whether understood as cognition, id-ego-superego, collective unconscious, etc.). He was permeating the variousÂ existing psychological theories.Â Skinner never denied the existence in his theory of mental processes (they are understood as behavior) but claims to be unproductive to seek the origin of these variables of human actions, for example, mental events do not cause people's behavior, mental events are behaviorsÂ and they are physical in nature.Â The analysis of behavior (be it cognitive, emotional or motor) should involve, in addition to the responses in question, the context in which it occurs and the events that follow the answers, according to Plans and situated actions - The problem of human-machine communications (1987).Â Such a position is clearly opposed to the vision of Behaviorism Watson, whereby the main reason for not studying physiological phenomena not only would the limitation of the method, not the actual lack of such phenomena of a different kind of physics.Â Behaviorism Skinner also opposed the mediational neobehaviorists, denying the scientific relevance of mediational variables: For Skinner, the man is a single entity, even in opposition to man "composite" body and mind, for example the vision of man'sÂ monistic vision, According to Skinner, B.F. (1972).Â
Skinner developed the principles of operant conditioning and systematic model of selection by consequences to explain the behavior.Â Operant conditioning is modeled Sd-R-Sr, where a first stimulus Sd, discriminative stimulus increases the probability of a response R.Â The difference with the SR and SOR paradigm is that the model SD-R-Sr, conditioning occurs if, after the response R, it follows a reinforcer Sr, which can be enhanced (positive or negative) that "Â encourage "the behavior (increasing their likelihood of occurrence), or a punishment (positive or negative) that inhibits behavior in similar situations later, according to Skinner, B.F. (1969).Â Considering the theories, it is more important to ensure the informal learning, as it may be difficult in some situations to provide formal training opportunities.
According to Pavlov and classical conditioning (2009), operant conditioning differs from respondent conditioning of Pavlov and Watson because in operant behavior, the behavior is not conditioned as reflex by association between stimulus and response, but the probability of a stimulus following the conditioned response.Â When a behavior is followed by the presentation of positive reinforcement or negative, that answer is more likely to be repeated with the same function, even so, when the behavior is followed by a punishment (positive or negative), the response is less likelyÂ to occur later.Â Radical Behaviorism proposes to explain animal behavior through the model of selection by consequences.Â Thus, Radical Behaviorism proposes a model of conditioning and non-linear probabilistic, as opposed to the linear model and a reflection of previous theories of behaviorism. For Skinner, the most human behaviors are shaped this way functional.Â "But man has still another powerful resource: natural science with its strictly objective methods."Â Ivan Pavlov.
For Skinner, behaviors are selected through three levels of selection.Â The components thereof are: 1 - Phylogenetic Level: corresponding to the species and biological aspects of heredity of the individual; 2 - Level Ontogenetic, which corresponds to the entire life history of the individual, 3 - Cultural Level: cultural aspects that influenceÂ human conduct, according to Skinner, B.F (1981).Â
Through the interaction of these three levels (none of whom has a status higher than the other) behaviors are selected.Â For Skinner, the human being is an active being, which operates in the environment, causing changes in it, which these changes feed back onto the subject, changing their behavioral patterns, according to Skinner, Burrhus FrederickÂ (1957).Â
Although it has been and still be fairly criticized, many of the prejudices regarding Skinner's ideas are actually the result of ignorance of the critic.Â Many of the criticisms made by radical behaviorism are actually criticisms of behaviorism of Watson.Â Even authors who were widely known for his criticisms of behaviorism, as Chomsky "A Review on Skinner's Verbal Behavior, knew little about the approach and, therefore, made many mistakes.Â Chomsky's critique has been answered by Kenneth MacCorquodale", - on Chomsky's Review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior.Â
Skinnerian behaviorism, nowadays, is the most popular, if not sole, behaviorism still alive.Â The ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International) has about 13,500 members worldwide (remembering that even remotely corresponds to the actual number) and grows about 6.5% per year, which belies the common claim that behaviorism is dead.
Classical conditioning of Pavlov - is a reflex acquired peculiar to single individual (individuals) arise during the life of an individual and not fixed genetically (not inherited).Â Occur under certain conditions, and disappear in their absence.Â They are formed on the basis of unconditional reflexes, with the participation of higher brain regions, according to Pavlov, I.P. (1927).Â Conditioned reflex reactions depend on past experience, the specific conditions in which he develops a conditioned reflex.Â "Don't become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin." -Â Ivan Pavlov.
Study of conditional reflexes is associated primarily with the name of Pavlov.Â He showed that the new conditioned stimulus can trigger a reflex reaction if some time he is presented with the unconditioned stimulus.Â For example, if a dog to sniff the meat, then it stands gastric juice (this is the unconditioned reflex).Â If, however, simultaneously with the appearance of meat bell rings, the nervous system of the dog associates the sound with food and gastric juices will be released in response to the call, even if the meat was not charged.Â Conditioned reflexes are the basis of the acquired behavior.Â This are the simplest programs.Â The world around us is constantly changing, so it can live successfully, only those who have fast and appropriate answers to these changes.Â As you gain experience of life in the cerebral cortex develops a system of conditioned reflex connections.Â Such a system called dynamic stereotype.Â It underlies many of the habits and skills.Â For example, learning to skate, bike, we subsequently did not think about how we move, lest he fall. "The physiologist who succeeds in penetrating deeper and deeper into the digestive canal becomes convinced that it consists of a number of chemical laboratories equipped with various mechanical devices."Â - Ivan Pavlov.
The conceptÂ of "operant conditioning" was coinedÂ byÂ psychologist BurrhusÂ
Frederic Skinner.Â ThisÂ refers toÂ theÂ procedure byÂ whichÂ aÂ responseÂ isÂ modeledÂ (action) in the bodyÂ throughÂ differential reinforcementÂ andÂ successive approximations.Â This isÂ wheretheÂ answerÂ generatesÂ aÂ resultÂ andÂ thisÂ resultÂ affectsÂ their likelihoodÂ to occur againÂ ifÂ the consequenceÂ isÂ reinforcing, the probability increasesÂ ifÂ punitive, andÂ reduceÂ the likelihoodÂ ofÂ future occurrences,Â causesÂ other side effects.Â This typeÂ of behaviorÂ that results inÂ aÂ stimulusÂ thatÂ affectsÂ its frequencyÂ isÂ calledÂ "Operant Behavior."
The conceptÂ ofÂ Operant BehaviorÂ differs fromÂ the conceptÂ ofÂ behaviorÂ occurs
Â because the firstÂ respondentÂ inÂ aÂ given context,Â calledÂ discriminative stimulus,Â and
Â generatesÂ a stimulusÂ thatÂ affectsÂ the probabilityÂ of itÂ occurring again, the secondÂ isÂ directlyÂ elicitedbyÂ someÂ stimulusÂ andÂ isÂ aÂ physiological reactionÂ ofÂ
organism.Â AÂ physiological responseÂ toÂ aÂ stimulus,Â such as closing theÂ eye beforeÂ
anything approachingÂ it,Â pulling the armÂ in front ofÂ aÂ prick,Â etc.
Operant conditioning, alsoÂ calledÂ instrumental conditioningÂ orÂ instrumental learning, was firstÂ studiedÂ byÂ EdwardÂ L.Â ThorndikeÂ (1874-1949), whoÂ observed theÂ behaviorÂ of catsÂ trying toÂ escapeÂ "boxesÂ problems."Â The firstÂ timeÂ that catsÂ wereÂ placedÂ in the boxes,Â they tookÂ enoughÂ timeÂ toÂ escape them.Â ButÂ overÂ time, theÂ responsesÂ were ineffectiveÂ inÂ decreasingÂ frequency,Â andÂ more effective responsesÂ increasedÂ infrequency,Â andÂ nowÂ theÂ catsÂ managed to escapeÂ in lessÂ timeÂ andÂ withÂ fewerÂ attempts.
InÂ hisÂ LawÂ ofÂ Effect,Â ThorndikeÂ theorizedÂ thatÂ theÂ answersÂ theyÂ producedÂ more satisfyingÂ consequences, wereÂ "chosen"Â by theÂ experienceÂ andÂ thusÂ increasedÂ in frequency.Â SomeÂ consequencesÂ reinforcedÂ theÂ behavior, furtherÂ weakeningÂ it. "ThorndikeÂ producedÂ theÂ firstÂ learningÂ curveÂ withÂ this procedure.Â SkinnerÂ (1904-1990)Â formulatedÂ aÂ more detailed analysisÂ of operant conditioningÂ usingÂ concepts such asÂ reinforcement,Â punishmentÂ andÂ extinction.Â FollowingÂ theÂ ideasÂ ofÂ ErnstÂ Mach, SkinnerÂ rejectedÂ Thorndike'sÂ mediatingÂ structuresÂ requiredÂ byÂ "satisfaction"Â and constructedÂ a newÂ conceptÂ ofÂ behaviorÂ withoutÂ the useÂ ofÂ suchÂ references.
AÂ behavioristÂ usesÂ animal behaviorÂ as a wayÂ ofÂ notÂ being able to studyÂ the particularitiesÂ that animalsÂ haveÂ asÂ toÂ their behavior,Â but ratherÂ toÂ seekÂ universalÂ laws thatÂ govern theÂ behaviorÂ of organisms.Â ForÂ SkinnerÂ (1956),Â theÂ reinforcement schedulesÂ of operant conditioningÂ are universal.Â It matters little,Â heÂ said,Â thatÂ reaction, whichÂ increaseÂ orÂ what kindÂ you use.Â The effectÂ ofÂ certainÂ scheduleÂ of reinforcementÂ is almost the same:Â "Pigeon,Â rat,Â monkey,Â whichÂ isÂ what?Â It does not matterÂ ...Â The behaviorÂ hasÂ characteristicsÂ strikinglyÂ similar."
Cognitivism (Lewin - 'life-space' and individual's inner/outer environment;
Kurt Lewin: "The chief methodological approach would be that of developing actual group experiments of change, to be carried on in the laboratory or in the field."
"Social action, just like physical action, is steered by perception."
"Our behavior is purposeful; we live in a psychological reality or life space that includes not only those parts of our physical and social environment to us but also imagined states that do not currently exist."
"Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process."
"General validity of the law and concreteness of the individual case are not antitheses ... reference to the totality of the concrete whole situation must take the place of reference to the largest possible historical collection of frequent repetitions."
--FromÂ A Dynamic Theory of Personality, 1935.
"A successful individual typically sets his next goal somewhat but not too much above his last achievement. In this way he steadily raises his level of aspiration."
Bandura - modelling behavior. Albert Bandura opinion considering the modeling behavior is: "We find that people's beliefs about their efficacy affect the sorts of choices they make in very significant ways. In particular, it affects their levels of motivation and perseverance in the face of obstacles. Most success requires persistent effort, so low self-efficacy becomes a self-limiting process. In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, strung together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life."
"Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling : from observi".
Vygotsky - "Zone of Proximal Development" and "Scaffolding" - moving through higher levels of learning with the support of more experienced or knowledgeable others, learning how to do something independently.
Vygotsky states: 'Thought is not expressed but completed in the word" (1987: 282). "The development from games with an overt imaginary situation and covert rules to games with overt rules and a covert imaginary situation outlines the evolution of children's play." (Mind in Society)
Piaget - how children learn from adults: "During the earliest stages the child perceives things like a solipsist who is unaware of himself as subject and is familiar only with his own actions."
"The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done." - Jean Piaget.Â
As well, Piaget states that: "The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers".
In Piaget's opinion, "Our problem, from the point of view of psychology and from the point of view of genetic epistemology, is to explain how the transition is made from a lower level of knowledge to a level that is judged to be higher."
"Knowledge, then, is a system of transformations that become progressively adequate."
Adult and Experiential Learning (Knowles - "andragogy" and the different nature of adult learners. "While driving to and from these locations, we engaged in serious discussions about all sorts of subjects, such as the meaning of life, right and wrong, religion, politics, success, happiness and everything a growing child is curious about. I distinctly remember feeling like a companion rather than an inferior. My father often asked what I thought about before he said what he thought, and gave me the feeling that he respected my mind." (Knowles 1989)
"Formal programs are those sponsored for the most part by established educational institutions, such as universities, high schools, and trade schools. While many adults participate in the courses without working for credit, they are organized essentially for credit students... Informal classes, on the other hand, are generally fitted into more general programs of such organizations as the YMCA and YWCA, community centers, labor unions, industries and churches." (Knowles 1950).
"Several important differences are found between the interests in organized classes and the interests in lecture, forum and club programs. In the first place, the former are likely to be stable, long-term interests, while the latter are more transitory. In the second place, lectures, forums and club programs are more flexible than organized classes. In a program series the topics can range from pure entertainment to serious lectures, while an organized class is necessarily limited to a single subject-matter area. Third, the lecture, forum, and club types of programs generally require less commitment of time, money and energy from participants than do organized classes. As a result they are likely to attract people with somewhat less intense interest." (Knowles 1950).
"Adult learning should produce at least these outcomes:
Adults should acquire a mature understanding of themselves.
Adults should develop an attitude of acceptance, love, and respect toward others.Â
Adults should develop a dynamic attitude toward life.
Adults should learn to react to the causes, not the symptoms, of behavior.Â
Adults should acquire the skills necessary to achieve the potentials of their personalities.Â
Adults should understand the essential values in the capital of human experience.
Adults should understand their society and should be skillful in directing social change." Malcolm S. Knowles (1950).Â
Lewin and Kolb the Learning Cycle and experience. Two aspects can be seen as especially noteworthy: the use of concrete, 'here-and-now' experience to test ideas; and use of feedback to change practices and theories (Kolb).
"Hall and Lindzey (1978) summarize the central features of Kurt Lewin's field theory as follows: Behavior is a function of the field that exists at the time the behavior occurs, Analysis begins with the situation as a whole from which are differentiated the component parts, and The concrete person in a concrete situation can represented mathematically."Â
Brookfield the self-directed learner. As a fact, self-directed learners can be considered the most successful in the future and with the most beneficial outcome.
"That learning to learn is a skill that exists far beyond academic boundaries is evident from the research conducted on practical intelligence and everyday cognition in settings and activities as diverse as grocery shopping and betting shops (Brookfield, 1991)."
Freire -Praxis (activity-reflection-analysis). Paulo FreireÂ defines praxis inÂ Pedagogy of the OppressedÂ as "reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it." Through praxis, oppressed people can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for liberation.
"Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world."Â -Â Paulo Freire.Â
"Some may think that to affirm dialogue-the encounter of women and men in the world in order to transform the world-is naively and subjectively idealistic. there is nothing, however, more real or concrete than people in the world and with the world, than humans with other humans."Â -Â Paulo Freire.
"The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a 'circle of certainty' within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side."Â -Â Paulo Freire.Â
Situated Learning (Lave and Wenger - "communities of practice" and shift from peripheral to full participation in the community, levels of expertise).
'A community of practice is an intrinsic condition for the existence of knowledge. â€¦ Thus, participation in the cultural practice in which any knowledge exists is an epistemological principle of learning.Â The social structure of this practice, its power relations, and its conditions for legitimacy define possibilities for learning.' (Lave and Wenger, 1991, p98).
According to Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991), theÂ theoryÂ ofÂ situatedÂ learningÂ
(alsoÂ situatedÂ cognition), considers theÂ social embeddingÂ of individual learning.Â JeanÂ LaveÂ andÂ EtienneÂ WengerÂ were prominentÂ in theÂ developmentÂ of the idea. AÂ varietyÂ of learningÂ theoriesÂ attemptÂ to explain howÂ humanÂ learningÂ takes place. Most ofÂ theseÂ theoriesÂ focuses on theÂ individualÂ as aÂ learner.Â Lave wrote:
Â 'There are enormous differences in what and how learners come to shape (or be shaped into) their identities with respect to different practices. â€¦Â Researchers would have to explore each practice to understand what is being learned, and how' (Lave, 1996, p161-162, emphasis added).
The earlyÂ 90sÂ of the 20thÂ Century, scientistsÂ haveÂ come togetherÂ from differentÂ disciplinesÂ toÂ exploreÂ the socialÂ dimensionÂ of learning. For understanding theÂ theory, itÂ isÂ important toÂ considerÂ theÂ theoreticalÂ guiding principleÂ of the concept.Â These were alsoÂ in the developmentÂ of theÂ theoryÂ developed in partÂ withÂ this.Â TheseÂ guiding principlesÂ includeÂ theÂ importance ofÂ negotiation,Â the situatedÂ context, including theÂ theoryÂ of communities ofÂ practice,Â identityÂ development asÂ oneÂ of the mainÂ objectivesÂ of the learningÂ processÂ forÂ theÂ learningÂ people.Â Another centralÂ ideaÂ of the theoretical modelÂ ofÂ situatedÂ learningÂ isÂ thatÂ enablesÂ theÂ
Social contextÂ ofÂ individual learning,Â developedÂ withÂ theÂ learningÂ persons.Â
TheoriesÂ thatÂ have takenÂ this line of thinkingÂ are, forÂ exampleÂ distributiveÂ cognition.
According to Lave, J. (Ed.) (1988), learners inevitably participate in communities of practitioners andâ€¦ the mastery of knowledge and skill requires newcomers to move toward full participation in the socio-cultural practices of a community. "Legitimate peripheral participation" provides a way to speak about the relations between newcomers and old-timers, and about activities, identities, artefacts, and communities of knowledge and practice. A person's intentions to learn are engaged and the meaning of learning is configured through the process of becoming a full participant in a socio-cultural practice. This social process, includes, indeed it subsumes, the learning of knowledgeable skills. (Lave and Wenger 1991: 29)
Being alive as human beings means that we are constantly engaged in the pursuit of enterprises of all kinds, from ensuring our physical survival to seeking the most lofty pleasures. As we define these enterprises and engage in their pursuit together, we interact with each other and with the world and we tune our relations with each other and with the world accordingly. In other words we learn, according to Lave, J. (1996).
"Over time, this collective learning results in practices that reflect both the pursuit of our enterprises and the attendant social relations. These practices are thus the property of a kind of community created over time by the sustained pursuit of a shared enterprise. It makes sense, therefore to call these kinds of communities". (Wenger 1998: 45)
'As an aspect of social practice, learning involves the whole person; it implies not only a relation to specific activities, but a relation to social communities.Â Â â€¦ Learning only partly - and often incidentally - implies becoming able to be involved in new activities, to perform new tasks and functions, to master new understandings.Â Â
Activities, tasks, functions, and understandings do not exist in isolation; they are part of broader systems of relations in which they have meaning.Â Â These systems of relations arise out of and are reproduced and developed within social communities, which are part of systems of relations among persons.Â Â â€¦ [Learning] is itself an evolving form of membership.Â Â We conceive of identities as long-term, living relations between persons and their place and participation in communities of practice.Â Â Thus identity, knowing, and social membership entail one another.' (Lave and Wenger, 1991, p53).
As a fact, Lave and Wenger state that a community of practice is 'a set of relations among persons, activity, and world, over time and in relation with other tangential and overlapping communities of practice' (Lave and Wenger, 1991, p98).
"Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour: a tribe learning to survive, a band of artists seeking new forms of expression, a group of engineers working on similar problems, a clique of pupils defining their identity in the school, a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques, a gathering of first-time managers helping each other cope. In a nutshell: Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly." (Wenger circa 2007).
All in all, it can be said that the statement 'It is more important for HRD practitioners to facilitate informal learning than it is to provide formal training opportunities' describes the current trends and requirements of people to study. Modern interests and necessities are aimed at personal and distant education, at creative approaches, using new ideas and informal learning, which is considered more beneficial. Theories of learning indicate and describe different points of views, that have similar fundamental information considering the effective learning process that can be effective and beneficial in case a person is interested in what he is learning and in case the information is new, useful, perspective and moving a person forward to the perspectives. Each piece of information can be considered valuable and indispensable, for example as learning the basic things. It can be said that the process of learning is extremely important and the opportunities people see for them when they are learning something are individual. Being able to see the most important and perspective issues among the theories of learning and the information that is updated each day, a person is able to choose and to decide for himself which kinds of information it is essential to perceive and develop for the future success.