Seminar in Learning [Psyc 255]


Through our long evolutionary past, our bodies have developed the capacity to respond automatically to certain needs and situations. While conducive to survival, these reflexes are better thought of as the canvas on which to paint the detailed and complex collage of behaviors that will truly allow us to survive and flourish within our ever changing environments. It is our capacity to learn that provides us with the pallet from which to paint the consequences of our experiences.

Because most human behavior is learned, investigating the principles of learning will help us understand why we behave as we do. An awareness of the learning process will allow greater understanding not only of normal and adaptive behavior but also of the circumstances that produce maladaptive and abnormal behavior. To this end, our class will broadly survey the most prominent theoretical systems for the interpretation of learning.

The goal of this course is to develop a masters-level understanding of the major theories of learning in psychology. By the end of the course, you should

  • Understand the major features of the Structuralist, Functionalist, Behavioralist, and Cognitivist learning theories

  • Be able to identify and discuss the primary theorists from each theoretical perspective

  • Be able to articulate several limitations and/or criticisms of each theoretical perspective

  • Understand how these major theoretical positions relate to one another