Meaning and Nature of Learning

Learning is the process by which an individual acquires knowledge, attitudes and skills that are necessary to meet the demands of life. While touching a burning candle, a child gets burnt and he withdraws the fingers. When he faces a similar situation again he withdraws his fingers faster. Gradually he learns to avoid not only the burning candle but also other burning things. The behaviour of an individual is thus changed through experiences. This change in behaviour brought about by experiences is commonly known as learning.

Thus, Learning means change in behaviour or behaviour potential that occurs as a result of experience. Learning can result from both vicarious and direct experiences. Vicarious means observing someone and learning from that observation and not being directly involved in the experience. For example, a child learns how to clap hands by seeing someone else do it. Learning also takes place through direct experiences. For example, a child learns to write by practicing writing. A child normally learns from his parents, teachers and the environment.

Definitions of Learning:

1. Gardener Murphy: “The term learning covers every modification in behaviour to meet environmental requirements.”

2. Henry P. Smith: “Learning is the acquisition of new behaviour or the strengthening or weakening of old behaviour as the result of experience.”

3. Crow & crow: “Learning is the acquisition of habits, knowledge & attitudes. It involves new ways of doing things and it operates in individuals attempts to overcome obstacles or to adjust to new situations. It represents progressive changes in behaviour. It enables him to satisfy interests to attain goals.


1. Learning is Universal. Every creature that lives learns. Man learns most. The human nervous system is very complex, so are human reactions and so are human acquisition. Positive learning vital for children’s growth and development.

2. Learning is through Experience. Learning always involves some kind of experience, direct or indirect (vicarious).

3. Learning is from all Sides: Today learning is from all sides. Children learn from parents, teachers, environment, nature, media etc.

4. Learning is Continuous. It denotes the lifelong nature of learning. Every day new situations are faced and the individual has to bring essential changes in his style of behaviour adopted to tackle them. Learning is birth to death.

5. It results in Change in Behaviour. It is a change of behaviour influenced by previous behaviour. It is any activity that leaves a more or less permanent effect on later activity.

6. Learning is an Adjustment. Learning helps the individual to adjust himself adequately to the new situations. Most learning in children consists in modifying, adapting, and developing their original nature. In later life the individuals acquire new forms of behaviour.

7. It comes about as a result of practice. It is the basis of drill and practice. It has been proven that students learn best and retain information longer when they have meaningful practice and repetition. Every time practice occurs, learning continues.

8. Learning is a relatively Permanent Change. After a rat wake up from his nap he still remembers the path to the food. Even if you have been on a bicycle for years, in just a few minutes practice you can be quite proficient again.

9. Learning as Growth and Development. It is never ending growth and development. At reach stage the learner acquires new visions of his future growth and news ideals of achievement in the direction of his effort. According to Woodworth, “All activity can be called learning so far as it develops the individual.”

10. Learning is not directly observable. The only way to study learning is through some observable behaviour. Actually, we cannot observe learning; we see only what precedes performance, the performance itself, and the consequences of performance.


About John Parankimalil

John Parankimalil, SDB, M.A. (English), M.Ed, Ph.D (Education), popularly known as P.D. Johny is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco. He is presently the Rector and Principal of Don Bosco College, Tura, Meghalaya and Director of Don Bosco College of Teacher Education, Tura. He received the 1st Computer Literacy Excellence Award from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the President of India in August 2002 and the Guruvar Best Teacher Award from Shri Kapil Sibal, HRD Union Minister in 2009. He was formerly Principal of St Anthony's Higher Secondary School, Shillong and National President of All India Association of Catholic Schools (AINACS), New Delhi and the Charter President of Rotary Club of Orchid City, Shillong. He has authored several books. He is an Eduationist, Story-Teller and Leadership Trainer. He conducts seminars for Principals, Teachers, Students and Parents. His popular books include, He Can Who Thinks He Can (Macmillan), An Elocution Manual (Orient Longman), Progressive Parenting (Unicorn), Inspirational Stories for Purposeful Living (Babhani) The Way to Success and Happiness (Savio), How to Win Over Your Problems (Babhani), The Secrets of High Achievers (Babhani).
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11 Responses to Meaning and Nature of Learning

  1. nitinekta says:

    thanks sir

  2. poonam says:

    Very good, easy and useful notes…

  3. Sujata Kar says:

    Very good sir,and useful also. Could you please give us some notes on aptitude and creativity?

  4. Pingback: Understanding Learning | lathateacher

  5. Dibakar mahakud says:

    Thanks sir

  6. raji says:

    thank u for ur useful notes

  7. Pervaiz Ahmed says:

    Useful and simple. Thanks sir

  8. sapna says:

    Thank u so much sir

  9. Prince Maurice Udoh says:

    thank you very sir this post was rely helpful. God’s blessing!

  10. Prince Maurice Udoh says:

    thank you very much sir, this post was really helpful. God’s blessings!

  11. Anam Siddiqui says:

    nature of learning is
    a)learning involves a change
    b)practice must be reinforced
    c)learning is reflected in behaviour
    d)all of these

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