Edward Lee Thorndike’s Theory of Learning

Edward Lee Thorndike’s Theory of Learning

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Measurement, learning and individual differences, which are the main subjects of contemporary educational psychology, were the subjects Thorndike worked on intensively.

Thorndike attached great importance to the study of learning as a mental process. According to his learning theory, which he developed based on his experiments on animals, the mind is a term that expresses the integrity of the chemical and electrical functions with the activities of the nerve and brain cells that provide a response to a stimulus.

Emotions, desires, and information are all a state of connectedness in which certain reactions are formed with certain stimuli. Learning takes place if and only if the response can have any effect on the environment. If the effect of the response is pleasing, learning occurs, otherwise the learning process is weakened.

This means that learning consists of strengthening the link between a stimulus situation and a response. Thus, there is a quantitative but not a qualitative distinction between simple learning and higher mental processes. On the other hand, every learning means the formation of a new reaction link; Learning a particular job or skill does not significantly facilitate learning another similar skill. This view of Thorndike’s had a significant impact on the reorganization of the US school system for practical purposes with a focus on utility.

Thorndike, who also worked on individual mental differences and contributed to the development and use of various measurement tests, saw the hereditary ones as primary among the mental faculties in humans.

He thought that racial breeding work could help the development of the individual and society, and downplayed the statements that emphasized the environment, reinforcing the ordinary American people’s understanding that “good people are good everywhere, in all circumstances”. Although his theories are debatable, Thorndike became one of the most important educational psychologists of the century, with his views influencing educational theories in a concrete way and being widely transferred to the field of practice.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook