How can her understanding of learning psychology support this position?


Address two of the three scenarios (your choice) listed below. (Clearly use headings in your post to designate which options you are addressing.)

Option A: A recent psychology graduate named Kaylynn is currently seeking a career position with the local community college as a marketing director.

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  • How can her understanding of learning psychology support this position?
  • How can she express these acquired skills most clearly in her interview?
  • If you were Kaylynn, what knowledge or skills would you be sure to include? Please provide a rationalization.

Option B: The retail department store that Nikky, a psychology graduate, works for, is changing how they address customer service, and over the next several weeks the store will be requiring all sales personnel to attend training sessions. As a sales manager, Nikky has heard her employees make comments reflecting their frustration with this requirement; they believe they do an adequate job, so why change what they are currently doing?

  • How can Nikky, based on what she knows about the psychology of learning, encourage the employees to be more open to learning the new procedures?
  • What rationales does learning psychology offer us to explain why we may believe we do not need to learn new things?
  • Again, based on this area of psychology, how might the attitude of the employees affect their ability to effectively learn, even if they were to attend?

    Learning Objectives

    After reading this chapter, you should be able to

    ሁ Explain why learning psychology is a complex field of study. ሁ Identify variables that may affect successful processing of information. ሁ Evaluate the applicability of evolving frameworks to foundational learning theory. ሁ Understand ethical considerations associated with applied learning psychology. ሁ Identify careers that apply learning psychology.

    The Psychology of Learning Michelle Rosser-Majors, PhD—Ashford University 3


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    Section 3.1Introduction to Learning Psychology

    James Maddox is the lead case manager for the county department of human services. A new platform for documenting client cases is about to be implemented across the department and James must train all of his case managers to successfully use the system. As he brainstorms training ideas, he recalls the psychology of learning class he took when he was earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He knows that the training must communicate the crucial components of the new platform, but he also knows that how he communicates these compo- nents, that is, the design of the training, may be even more important. It is essential that the training be effective and engaging. He knows that there are many variables that can affect effective knowledge acquisition and that individuals have complex and diverse learning pref- erences. He also recalls the different theories that suggest best practices for helping one’s self, as well as others, to learn more effectively. Based on this, he designs what he hopes will be an engaging training that will appeal to many different types of learners and result in long-term knowledge acquisition.

    James’s situation reminds us that learning is a part of our everyday lives, whether personal or professional, and also reminds us of the importance of knowing how to effectively support learning opportunities for ourselves and for others. Consider the following questions that might guide James in developing a more successful training event:

    ሁ What theories of learning can support the development of training materials? ሁ What strategies could be utilized to encourage successful learning? ሁ How can James learn more about his case managers to better design the training? ሁ How might the diversity of his team create stumbling blocks during the training? How

    might it enhance the training process?

    3.1 Introduction to Learning Psychology The questions posed in the introductory scenario are typical of the variety addressed by those who are applying strategies in the domain of learning. Learning psychology is devoted to understanding how people learn as well as how people learn most effectively (Rosser- Majors, 2017). People can apply the theories and models of learning psychology to support increased learning opportunities for themselves and others, whether they are in the learning psychology field or in another career (e.g., sales, teaching, or caregiving). The development of personal goals can also be supported by an understanding of how people learn (e.g., through self-improvement, playing games, or life experience).

    Throughout the history of psychology, people have studied different aspects of learning, and the research clearly substantiates one fact: understanding how people learn is a complex task. As scholars began to better understand learning behaviors in the early-mid 1900s, it became apparent that behaviorism, a theory that suggested all learning was a nonconscious response to a stimulus, did not fully explain the complexities of this domain. In response, the cognitive revolution, beginning in the 1950s, suggested that people’s minds were active participants in learning and that how the mind processes knowledge is important (Baars, 1986; Bruner, 1990; Gardner, 1985; Watrin & Darwich, 2012; Sperry, 1993). Research into this perspective has been driven by advancements in technology and the demands of an increasingly com- petitive world and has offered new, innovative strategies that support more effective learn- ing (Sternberg, 2015; Wicks, Nakisher & Grimm, 2016). Although helpful, the advances in research have only made it more apparent how complex learning is, and often the strategies

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    Section 3.1Introduction to Learning Psychology

    suggested by researchers can be difficult to address in traditional and evolving learning set- tings. Hence, scholars and educators continue to dedicate themselves to understanding how to create the most effective learning opportunities for all, based on foundational knowledge of human behavior and the mind.

    As you have learned throughout your psy- chology courses, behavior (and therefore learning) is affected by all aspects of the person: biological, psychological, physio- logical, neurological, experiential, and emotional. With so many considerations, understanding which approach will be the most advantageous for one’s own context can be daunting. But it is this complexity that continues to inspire us to understand how learning takes place.

    In addition, as you have also learned, cul- tural myopia encourages the tendency to judge learning experiences based on only one’s own experiences, without full acknowledgment of their complexities. For example, have you ever been presented with a new concept, whether in a course at school or in conversation with friends, and totally rejected it as false or impossible without doing any further research? This may be because the new concept does not support what you think you already know based on past experience. Unconsciously, you do not accept the new knowl- edge, and research suggests you do not effectively move it to long-term memory (LTM)—the storage area for information that has been processed through working memory. In addition, myths or misguided representations about one’s ability to learn based on demographic or other attributes (e.g., the falsehood that specific races are less intelligent than others) may also effect one’s ability to process information effectively. Simply put, if you believe you are not good at math, you are less likely to succeed in that subject. If you believe someone else will not be good at math, you may be less likely to support their learning opportunities ade- quately. Our cumulative experiences create our culture and can affect our approach to learn- ing. Therefore, misguided notions, as mentioned in these examples, alluding to what intel- ligence and learning are and are not perpetuate conscious and unconscious perceptions that may lead to bias, bigotry, and intolerance of others, as well as ineffective learning.

    Psychologists who study learning and memory have found that experiences, emotions, and foundational human needs affect what, how much, and the accuracy of what people can store in working memory (WM)—a limited capacity, short-term cognitive system for processing and storing information—and LTM. This concept is important to understand, as WM capacity has been linked to the ability to strategize and effectively process tasks (Gathercole, Durl- ing, Evans, Jeffcock & Stone, 2007; Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). Research suggests that LTM can store unlimited information; however, the accuracy of what knowledge is stored and how it is organized within this area of the mind varies. Research is now suggesting that humanistic variables (e.g., emotions and needs) may also affect one’s ability to sustain attention during the information collection and storing process, making these factors an important consider- ation in the learning process (Butts, 2017).

    Shironosov/iStock/Thinkstock ሁ Research suggests that we are less likely to

    retain new information that does not align with our current knowledge and experience.

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    Section 3.1Introduction to Learning Psychology

    But how does the multifaceted nature of effective knowledge acquisition affect scholars as human beings with hopes to improve themselves and their personal circumstances? How does it affect future professionals?

    As we will discuss, learning psychology is applicable in our everyday lives, both profession- ally and personally. It can support us in our ability to work with others, in advancing our careers, in becoming increasingly self-actualized (Aanstoos, 2016, 2017), and in helping oth- ers achieve their goals. In addition, understanding how humans learn is directly associated with performance, self-regulation, and self-efficacy. Understanding this area of psychology allows people to have more autonomy to pursue their goals, both professional and personal.

    Career Spotlight: Makayla B.

    Name: Makayla B.

    Primary job title: Behavior Interventionist

    Current employer: Love 2 Learn Consulting LLC

    How long have you been employed in your present position? I’ve been with Love 2 Learn for 1 1/2 years.