Types of learning curves

Types of Learning Curves in Psychology

This principle of learning involves the time factor and the repeated effort in order to gradually increase the strength of the response. This is especially true when the behaviours to be learned are comparatively complex such as skills that are learned and improved by practice. Learning curve is a diagrammatic presentation of the amount learned in relation to time.

How many types are in Learning curve ?

There are 4 types of learning curves:

Diminishing-returns Learning Curve: In this type of learning, the "rate of increase" in the degree of skill is higher in the beginning but decreases with time until it reaches zero and the person has obtained the maximum skill. It indicates that initially there is a spurt in learning, usually the graph levels at some stage indicating the maximum performance has been achieved. This is because at the beginning of the learning process, the learner is highly motivated to exhibit a significant surge of effort.

Diminishing Return Learning Curve

Diminishing Return Learning Curve

Increasing Returns Learning Curve: Another type of learning curve is the "increasing-return curve " which is just the opposite of "diminishing-return curve" in the sense that there are certain learning skills where the rate of increased learning is slow in the beginning and then it increases until the maximum potential for learning is reached. This usually occurs when a person is learning a complex unfamiliar and new task.

Increasing-Return Learning Curve

Increasing-Return Learning Curve

Increasing-Decreasing-Return Learning Curve: It is a combination both the "diminishing-returns curve" and the "increasing-returns curve". It is an "s-Shaped curve". If a person is totally new to the skill that he is learning, then all learning will probably follow an S-shaped curve. The lower portion of the curve represent the initial stages of acquiring a skill with very slow learning initially followed by successively greater returns, eventually reaching the absolute limit.

Increasing-Decreasing Return Learning Curve

Increasing-Decreasing Return Learning Curve

A rather complex pattern of skill acquisition is shown in the following diagram:

Increasing -Decreasing-Return Leaning Curve (complex pattern)

Increasing -Decreasing-Return Leaning Curve (complex pattern)

The stages in the increasing-decreasing-return learning is explained below: Perception and Learning

  • Slow Learning: The initial stage in the above curve is that of slow learning because of the newness and difficulty of skill. Once the learner has acquired some basics of his operations, he gains some confidence and this results in the second stage of increasing returns.
  • Increasing Returns: The learner gains confidence in this stage. He has acquired the required skill. This results in the third stage.
  • Plateau: When the learner feels that he has acquired the required skills, he reaches a comparative plateau where no further gains in skills are acquired. However, this may be a false plateau and the learner may be developing new ideas in improving efficiency.
  • Peak Proficiency: The development and application of new ideas may further improve upon his skill until he reaches the peak inefficiency, beyond which the skill becomes a kind of habit and an integral part of operations.
  • Over Learning: When the skill becomes a kind of habit, the period is termed as over learning because the learning becomes automatic and unforgettable.

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