State of Learning Disabilities Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

memory, classical conditioning and instrumental conditioning. The paper also describes the effect of diversity issues on the learning process. In addition to that, the paper also summarizes the psychiatric disorders and their effect on learning and memorizing process. Lastly, the paper gives a comparison between various behavioral counseling approaches.


Learning is an important topic in the field of psychology. Learning refers to a permanent change in the behavior and attitude of a person. The reason behind this change is experience and thus maturation or illness has nothing to do with it. This definition of learning as a permanent change and therefore it eliminates the temporary mood swings and illnesses from it. In this paper, we will be focusing on two types of learning: (Wood, 2010)

Classical Conditioning

Instrumental Conditioning (Wood, 2010)

Classical Conditioning

There are a lot of visuals and sounds that trigger certain emotions inside us. This is because there is a certain experience that has made us learn the association of one stimulus. For instance, the ringing of the doorbell means that someone's at the door. However, the ringing of the school bell means something entirely different. Such behavior is due to the process known as classical conditioning. (Wood, 2010)

Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an individual learns to harness one motivating factor to another. These motivating factors, commonly known as stimuli, are any events or things to which the individual responds. In the aforementioned example, the common stimulus is a ringing bell which makes the individual respond to it. In the first case, the individual has associated the stimulus of an incoming guest with the bell and therefore the response will be answering the door. In the second case, the stimulus of period over is associated with the bell and will trigger an appropriate response. (Wood, 2010)

The classical conditioning works on the involuntary response of an individual to a certain stimulus. Such a response is called reflex. There are two types of reflexes: (Wood, 2010)


Unconditional (Wood, 2010)

Unconditional reflex is a reflex that is not learned by an individual and is natural. For instance, blinking your eyes when something is brought near to them is an unconditional reflex. Normally, unconditional reflexes are triggered by unconditional stimulus. Therefore, bringing something near someone's eyes is an unconditional stimulus triggering an unconditional reflex. (Wood, 2010)

Conditional reflex, which is the focal point of classical conditioning, is generated by associating a neutral stimulus with the unconditional stimulus. For instance, ringing a bell shortly before bringing something near someone's eyes. The individual will hear the bell and then something will be brought near his eyes which will make him blink. The individual will then associate the stimulus of a ringing bell with the stimulus of something coming near his eye and therefore, next time when he hears a ringing bell he will blink his eye. This reflex is now called conditional as it is not triggered by an unconditional stimulus. Hence, the individual is trained to blink when he hears a ringing bell. (Wood, 2010)

Instrumental Conditioning

Classical conditioning associated human learning with responses that we give to different stimuli. Instrumental conditioning, however, focuses on the consequence of these reflexes. According to Edward Thorndike, individuals learn and change their behavior due to the good or bad results they get from their actions. Instrumental learning works on the law of effect which states that the result or consequence of a response will determine whether the probability of that response will strengthen or weaken. (Wood, 2010)

In instrumental conditioning, the consequence of a certain behavior will determine whether the individual will opt for it again or not. For instance, if a student asks his teacher a question and the teacher praises him for that, the probability of that student asking a question will increase. Any consequence which increases the frequency of the behavior is called reinforcement. However, if the teacher scolds him on asking too many questions, the probability of that student asking questions will decrease. Such consequences, which reduce the frequency of the response are called punishments. (Wood, 2010)

Positive and negative reinforcements are the two types of reinforcements. Positive reinforcement is the one that encourages an individual to repeat a certain response because it brings a positive result. Therefore, a student asking more questions to get the teacher's praise is motivated by a positive reinforcement. A negative reinforcement is the one which persuades an individual to repeat a behavior so that a negative consequence can be avoided. For instance, a boy doing his work in order to avoid his father's scolding is moved by a negative reinforcement. (Wood, 2010)

Similar to reinforcements, there are also positive and negative punishments as well. Positive punishment stops a person from responding in a certain way by bringing about an unpleasant consequence. A negative punishment, on the other hand, removes a pleasant consequence instead of creating an unpleasant one. (Wood, 2010)


As mentioned earlier, learning is a permanent change in the behavior of a person. For something to be permanent, it has to be memorized. Therefore, there is a strong relation between learning and memory. If an event is not important, a person tends to forget it. However, if an event is important, it causes the person to learn and hence, brings a change in the person's behavior. (Lutz & Huitt, 2003)

There are three stages through which a behavioral change passes in order to get permanent. First of all, a person perceives a stimuli. The information received from the stimuli enters the sensory memory. The sensory memory is highly volatile and the information has to be passed on rapidly to the next stage. If the information is not passed on, it will be forgotten. Hence, if a person perceives a stimuli through either of his senses, the important information is passed on to the next stage and the person forgets the rest. (Lutz & Huitt, 2003)

The result of a response, as mentioned in instrumental conditioning, is also perceived by the senses. The information in this result, which is in the form of a reinforcement or a punishment, is then passed on to the second stage. The insignificant information is not passed and the sensory memory loses it quickly in order to grasp more information. (Lutz & Huitt, 2003)

The second stage is the short-term memory. This is called the working or the active memory. The processing on the information is carried out here. The short-term memory only retains the information for fifteen to thirty seconds if it is left idle. This means processing should be done on it immediately after it is received. The information received from the stimuli is processed and transformed to comply with the current memory structure. After the transformation is complete, the information is transferred to the last stage. (Lutz & Huitt, 2003)

Long-term memory is the last stage in the memory cycle. It consists of the processed information obtained from certain stimuli. The information is dormant but can be brought into active memory when needed. Therefore, a behavior change, caused by a certain stimulus is processed and stored in the permanent memory from where it can be used in order to make decisions. (Lutz & Huitt, 2003)


Diversity certainly affects the learning process of an individual. Diversity may arise due to culture, race, language and sex. The cultural and racial background of a person will certainly alter the way his mind processes stimuli and reacts to it. Hence, if a person originates from India, he will be used to the stimulus of getting instructions from elders and will definitely follow the instruction given to him by an elder. In addition, the religion also has an effect on the learning process through which people go. (Cassidy, 2004)

Linguistic diversity also changes how people behave and learn. A normal stimulus is an instruction given to the students. If any particular student does not understand the language in which the instruction was given, he will not react to it. Therefore, linguistic diversity also affects the learning process of an individual. (Cassidy, 2004)

Learning diversity is common in schools and institutes with international students. The students are from a different racial and cultural background and speak different languages. Therefore, the time and effort taken by them to learn a certain thing is longer. (Cassidy, 2004)

In addition, the way an individual perceives a certain stimulus is also important. As mentioned earlier, the important things are passed on from sensory memory to short-term memory. The individuals belonging to diverse cultures and racial background have different scales of importance and therefore, the learning process is further hindered as some of the information is not passed on to the short-term memory and is lost. (Cassidy, 2004)

Hence, issues of diversity have an effect on the learning process. Care should be exercised by educational institutions where international students study. The institutions must try and reduce the effect of these…

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