Dr. Deepti Priya 

Psychologist and Author

Psychological views on learning process

Psychological views on learning process

(by Dr. Deepti Priya)

Copyright © Deepti Priya 2020

Learning is an inevitable process of human behavior, it refers to the dimensions of changes that result from one's experience. As stated by psychologists "learning is any permanent change in ability produced by behavior or experience". Although some behavioral changes are also caused by external factors, emotional outbreaks, trauma etc., these changes are temporary, they are not considered as learning. Changes caused by practice and experience in one's behavior (which are relatively permanent) are usually considered as learning. However, according to psychological theories, not every change in behavior can be considered as learning.


Learning involves a series of psychological events, there are three phases of learning:

First Phase: One get introduced to specific subject and feels the absence of insights; OR might not be aware of the absence of insights; on this specific subject

Second Phase: Acceptance on absence of insights on specific subject and starts the process of acquiring education (awareness, knowledge) on specific subject, engages self in sequence of activities required for developing insights. In cases, where one is not aware of the absence of insights on specific subject, does not engages self in sequence of activities required for developing insights; but when put into certain circumstances eventually appreciates the learning happening and acknowledges the absence of insights; this leads to engaging self in sequence of activities required for developing insights.

Third Phase: This is the phase when learning process is complete. Change in behaviour has occurred which is almost permanent. One can clearly understand all the three phases, absent of insight, acceptance, process of acquiring education, engaging self in sequence of activities required for developing insights and the third phase when the knowledge is acquired.


At this point its important to differentiate learning of life skills (relevant for all age group) from specific engagement of child in the process of learning (mainly to cover what we refer as academics and general intelligence). Learning of life skills which deals with “WHAT”, specific learning leading to fulfilment; this also helps in advancing self in divine journey. Learning process which deals with “HOW”, individual style, environment and approaches; this helps is acquiring education (awareness, knowledge) by enriching experience through healthier (physically and mentally) means.

To bring positive and healthier change in the learning of child, we first need to develop an understanding of learning process with its stages and styles. Here, in this article “how to learn” is touched which mainly refers to individual style, environment and approaches.

Ritambhara was a sweet eight-year-old intelligent girl, known for her brilliant skills. This outspoken child actively participates in various competitions and has won several awards for outstanding art work. She was told at school that her writing speed was slower than expected. Her mother resorted to various tricks for improving Ritambhara’s writing speed, even got a psychological evaluation, but nothing proved to work. Ritambhara’s slowness in writing continued to be the point of discussion during parent’s teacher meeting. When this issue of slowness in writing was discussed with Ritambhara where she was allowed to be thoughtful and open, she explained very simple point, every parent and school teacher needs to understand its importance. Ritambhara said that she wants to understand the topic of discussion in the class, she gives her full attention and before she can comprehend, teacher moves to other topic, what is written on board is removed and she misses to copy it down. Teachers write on board along with explaining the topic and then immediately clears the board. Therefore, there is only one way, she must copy everything from the board without understanding the topic.

Often in similar situations child is attributed to “slow learner”, whereas the term “slow learner”, is not even a diagnostic category in terms of psychological evaluation of child ability. Usually, the term “slow learner” is used by people (in their ignorance to understand learning process with its stages and styles) to describe a student who can learn necessary academic skills, but at rate and depth below average when compared to same age peers. When term “slow learner” is further evaluated with more observations and experiments, it further uncovers many aspects involved in learning process. Same skills can be learned with equal speed (or even faster) by these students who are termed as “slow learner”, when they get conducive environment to learn.

Kushal, a smart, intelligent, twelve-year-old boy with above average intelligence; regularly gets a comment from his teachers on his slowness in writing. Parents tried to improve Kushal's writing speed, but nothing proved to be effective. Parents and teacher also mentioned to Kushal that, with this speed he will fail in all exams, he shows lethargy and if he doesn’t change this behavior, he will be dropped out from school etc. When Kushal was asked to write on a topic shown in audio-visual clip, he was excited and wrote every word accurately and sharply as expected. Writing for Kushal is a boring task, so no tips, tricks, threats proved to be effective. But when the task was made a little different and challenging, Kushal was interested to write.

If we look carefully, neither Ritambhara, nor Kushal, had a slow writing speed. The learning styles of these two are different. They require different types of environments for their learning. Ignorance or failure of parents or teacher to develop this understanding, at times, leads to serious mental health issues in child.


Learning style

Learning style mainly refers to - how we like to learn, it is about the educational conditions, environments under which learning is most likely to occur. Sometimes some children from the same family do well in reading, writing or other areas of life, while others struggle. This indicates differences in our way of learning, within the same class, community, cultures, or socio-economic group. This difference can be defined as learning style. Everyone has their own differentiated Strengths; Dexterity; Cultural experience; Unique personality; Symptoms; Value; Talent; Therefore, it is important to know the individual characteristics of each child, important is to determine the factors that increase concentration in children and creates conducive environment under which learning is most likely to occur, without risking mental health. To increase concentration and long-term memory, we must practice by understanding the natural style of learning. From the following points we will be able to understand about the learning style.

  1. Perceptual Modality

Differentiated strengths based on hearing, visual, smell, touch, and kinesthetic responses.

  1. Information Processing

Differentiated strengths based on memory, language, analysis

  1. Personality Patterns

This is the way an individual or child interact with surroundings. Everyone has a preferred, consistent and unique way of perceiving, retaining and organizing information.

Analytical style of learning – Learning with information processing in step by step cumulative sequential fashion towards building conceptual understanding

Relational style of learning - Learning by comprehending parts of the unit and understanding their relationship to the whole.

Visual learners are better with seeing words written, using pictures, and drawing timelines for events. Auditory learners prefer repeating words aloud, small-group discussion, debates, listening to books on tape, oral reports, and oral interpretation. Kinesthetic learners naturally inclined to more hands-on activities (experiments, etc.), projects, frequent breaks to allow movement, visual aids, role play, and field trips. By using a variety of teaching methods from each of these categories, teachers can cater to different learning styles at once, and improve learning by challenging students to learn in different ways.

Different learning styles are points that help in exploring different forms of mental representation and personal characteristics. Learning styles do not portray the character of people, so children should never be divided into sets. Children can learn in any style, regardless of their own learning style. Important consideration should always be - how we make it easier for children to 'learn' by understanding their natural, psychological, personal styles and circumstances of learning. This way we can make learning experiences healthy and be able to avoid needless risks related to issues of mental health.

- Dr. Deepti Priya

(Psychologist and Healer)

About Dr. Deepti Priya

Dr. Deepti Priya has done PhD in Psychology. She has worked as “Clinical Psychologist” & “Child Development Worker” for premiere institutions like “National Institute of Public Co-Operation and Child Development” Regional Centre, Bengaluru. Currently Dr. Deepti Priya is engaged as psychologist, therapist - including regression therapies, healer and life coach. Besides her association as psychologist, Dr. Deepti Priya is also an author of two books.

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