What is Learning? Definition, Nature, Learning Process, Types

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What is Learning?

Learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behaviour or potential behaviour as a result of direct or indirect experience. Learning is thus a change in behaviour as a result of experience.

Learning Definition

Learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a result of experience.

Stephen P. Robbins

Learning is the process of having one’s behaviour modified, more or less permanently, by what he does and the consequences of his action, or by what he observes.

Munn N.L.

Learning can be defined as relatively permanent change in behaviour potentially that results from reinforced practice or experience.

Steers and Porter

Meaning of Learning

There are two primary elements in meaning of learning:

  1. The change must be relatively permanent. This means that after “learning” our behavior must be different, either better or worse as compared to our behaviour prior to this learning experience.
    For example, you “learn” to drive a car or have learned how to use a computer.

  2. This change must occur due to some kind of experience or practice. This learning is not caused by biological maturation.
    For example, a child does not learn to walk, it is a natural biological phenomenon. We do not learn to eat or drink.

Nature of Learning

Learning is a relatively permanent change in knowledge or behavior that results from practice or experience. There are several key points in this definition.

  1. First, with learning comes change.

    For example, when you learn a second language, your knowledge about how to communicate evolves, and your behavior changes when communicating with native speakers of the language.

  2. Second, the change in knowledge or behavior has to be relatively permanent or long lasting.

    For example, If you attempt to communicate with someone in another language by looking up words in a dictionary that you quickly forget once the interaction is complete, learning did not take place because there was no permanent change in your knowledge of the second language.

  3. Third, learning takes place as a result of practice or through experience.

    For example, Learning a second language requires much practice in pronunciation, word usage, and grammar.

Read: What is Organizational Behavior? | Definition, Importance, Model

Types of Learners

There are following types of learners:

  1. Visual Learners

    (a) Visual learners learn primarily through the written word.
    (b) They tend to be readers who diligently take down every word.

  2. Auditory Learners

    (a) Auditory learners learn primarily through listening.
    (b) They focus their ears and attention on your words, listening carefully to everything you say.
    (c) They like to talk rather than write and relish the opportunity to discuss what they’ve heard.

  3. Kinesthetic Learners

    (a) Kinesthetic learners learn better by doing
    (b) This group learns best when they can practice what they’re learning
    (c) They want to have their hands on the keyboard, the hammer, or the test tube because they think in terms of physical action.

Read: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs | Definition, Example

Learning Process

The learning process has the following steps:


Stimuli are any objects and language which draw the attention of people. Employees get stimuli from the actions of their superiors. Superiors tell and advice employees who pay attention to these stimuli. All the stimuli may not be fully attended to.


The degree of attention depends upon the nature of stimuli. All stimuli are not paid attention to. Technical and interesting stimuli are highly attended. Career-oriented stimuli are generally accepted by employees. The personality levels of employees influence their desires to learn, motives for need fulfilment and tension reduction.


Attention-paid stimuli are recognised as acceptable factors of improvement and new life styles. Employees paying attention to stimuli are recognising the stimuli for learning purposes. The levels of recognition depend upon the levels of values, preferences, needs and desires of the employees.


The translation and evaluation process is a crucial point for implementing the stimuli in behaviour through reinforcement. Employees behave properly through attitude changes, objectivity, mental and physical development. It is observed in better performances.


Reinforced perception is learning. The perception process includes stimuli, attention, recognition, translation and behaviour. Perception leads to learning, but perception itself is not learning unless it is reinforced.

Repeated action is reinforcement. Reinforcement may be positive, negative, punishment and extinction. Learners learn as per their perception levels. Generally positive reinforcement is more effective for making permanent changes in behaviour.


Learning changes behaviour through reinforcement of perceived knowledge. It makes permanent changes in behaviour. A temporary change in behaviour is not learning. Positive behaviour gives rewards to employees.


Employees expect rewards for learning. If the translated behaviour provides a reward, it is accepted, otherwise it is not accepted. Employees develop their behaviour into habits. Rewards may be monetary or non-monetary.


A permanent change in behaviour becomes a habit which helps continuous improvement in behaviour and performance. Employees develop the habit of selfappraisal and development. It helps to instil creativity and confidence in employees who are encouraged to behave properly again and again.


Motives depend on the level of satisfaction. Employees getting more satisfaction through learning develop high motives. Less satisfied learners have low motives. Learning is complete only when motives are fully realised and translated into efforts.


Habits help achieve good efforts and performance. This is a continuous process. Efforts are the automatic outcome of good habits which are acquired through the learning process. Self-development is possible through self-effort. Employees willing to develop themselves are self-motivated and effort-oriented.

Read: Theories of Learning | Classical, Operant Conditioning, Cognitive

Learning process

The learning process is totally associated with the mental process, inspiration and action. Stimuli reach only the unconscious mind. If it pays attention to stimuli it goes to the inner-level of the mind at subconscious level.

Attention is paid by the subconscious mind which analyses the stimuli and filters out irrelevant stimuli from the employee’s angle. The relevant stimuli are attended to, but a smaller portion of the stimuli attended is recognised by the clear mind.

Recognition of stimuli is done only by a clear mind. The stimuli recognised further to go to the inner part of the mind only when the clear mind has received them and the feeling cell of the mind evaluates their utilities. A felt mind has the capacity to evaluate and appraise the recognised stimuli.

The evaluated stimuli if found correct are stored at the level of the feeling cell of the mind. The stored stimuli or retention work for mobilising the function through reinforcement. Repeat and recall are mobilising factors for action.

Similarly, a tense mind gets reinforcement; it compels and forces the heart to activate the body for action and behaviour. Intensity at the mental level activates the heart to function. The level, quality and direction of intensity give the behavioural function a real shape.

Behaviour is the outcome of intensified stimuli and the heart’s activitisation. Behaviour producing reward helps the mental process to think and rethink again and again at all the five levels of the mind.

The reward itself becomes a stimulus which is attended, recognised, translated and reinforced respectively by the unconscious, subconscious, clear, felt and intense mind. It reaches to the heart level, and consequently, this process develops into a habit. Permanent changes in behaviour converge in the form of a habit.

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