Schunk’s Theory of Learning and Its Application

Topic: Education Theories
Words: 605 Pages: 2
Table of Contents


There is no clear definition for learning since different scholars have varying perceptions. Their differences result from their perspective on the factors that lead to learning. For an activity to be considered a learning experience, it must entail a series of activities: behavior change, acquisition of knowledge and experience, occurrence over a given period, and increase in productivity (Schunk, 2012). Therefore, learning can be defined as a process of change that occurs over time due to experience and gaining new information, increasing performance. This definition emphasizes increasing performance. However, Gagne (1965) defines learning as a disposition for change that persists over a given time without an ascription to any growth process. There is no indication of increased performance or gaining of knowledge and this makes the definition unsuitable. The definition accounts for the acquisition of experience as a stage in the learning process.


The definition accommodates all the activities involve in learning, as shown in the vignettes. In the case of the Aboriginal student, learning is only affected after being transferred to a different class. The difference in class management impacted her performance, and she was added to literacy and math learning teams; this signified efforts that led to a change in behavior. Moreover, shifting classes initiated learning since her environment was changing; thus, she had to learn to fit into her new group. In terms of gaining knowledge, she was taught by the student all the routines and learning tasks to be achieved. Her experiences in the previous and current classes provided a foundation for learning since she understood what to do and what not to do.

The factor of time was essential in facilitating her learning. According to the definition, learning occurs over time, and thus Sara recorded improvement after a few months, which showed that learning had taken place. Her homework and self-concept had changed for the better from when she first joined the class, proving increased performance and productivity on the part of the learner. An increase in productivity is the last stage of learning since it shows that the intended purpose has been achieved (Management Study Guide, n.d.). Therefore, Sara’s performance, attitude, and self-concept have shown immense growth in this case, which signifies that learning has happened. The student has exhibited behavior change at a stage in the learning process (Gagne, 1965). Upon joining the new class, Sara did not mention unacceptable conduct, thus proving that she had changed her behavior.

The definition has both strengths and weaknesses; some of the strengths comprise it operates as a method of solving problems involving environmental changes, as shown by the vignette. The definition exhibits learning as a process that requires acquiring and retaining information (Management Study Guide, n.d.). Additionally, the experiences are built over time through activities and tasks. The definition accounts for knowledge acquisition, hence cognitive development over a specific period (Management Study Guide, n.d.). Despite its strengths, this definition has weaknesses, too, including its failure to re-establish any form of relationship between the stimuli and their responses. It fails to show how the intended purpose relates to the motivations behind the whole learning process.


Learning has a variety of definitions depending on the scholar’s understanding and perception of the activities involved in the process. As such, for an activity to be considered a learning process, it must involve a series of activities, including a change of behavior, acquisition of knowledge, occurrence within a given timeframe, gaining of experience, and increase in productivity. The definition accounts for all the activities that entail the learning process, ensuring its strength. Nevertheless, it misses a few aspects which influence its weaknesses.


Gagne, R. (1965). The conditions of learning. Holt, Reinhart & Winston.

Management Study Guide. (n.d.). Learning: Definition, Characteristics, and Types of Learning in Psychology. Learning: Definition, characteristics, and types of learning in psychology. Web.

Schunk, D. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective. Pearson.

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