A Learning Theorist: Edward Ray Guthrie

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�Learning Theorist

tennessee state university

Learning Theorist

Edwin Ray Guthrie

Courtney Evans



One of the most prominent topics that is currently being studied is learning. Often times, people struggle with the definition of learning and the understanding of how one learns. Olson and Hergenhahn (2009) provide its readers with various definitions of learning. "To gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery through experience or study" (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009). However, one of the most popular definitions of learning was suggested by Gregory A. Kimble, who defined learning as a relatively permanent change in behavioral potentiality that occurs as a result of reinforced practice. This definition can be broken down in five steps for understanding to explain how one learns. For learning to take place, first, it must be an observable behavior for one to replicate. This means that a "learner" is capable of doing something that he or she could not do before, by observing the behavior.

Second, learning cannot be fixed or short-lived, it is relatively permanent. Third, the change in behavior does not have to occur after the learning experience. Because people have the potential to respond differently to a given situation, the potential to act on the situation may not be translated into a behavior until a later time. Fourth, learning results from experience or practice. Lastly, the experience must be reinforced so that responses that lead to reinforcements can be learned.

There are numerous of ways to interpret learning and different angles to dissect the definition. Because learning is such a huge and ongoing topic, there are theorists who implement and provide their own interpretation of learning through their theories. Theorists, such as Edwin Ray Guthrie, provided insight of his interpretation on how humans learn by explaining various theories. Guthrie's theories are used as tools...