Laws of Learning and their use and educational implications in Teaching-Learning

Laws of Learning

Use and educational implications of Laws of Learning in Teaching-Learning

After experiments on animals, Thorndike propagated 3 Laws of Learning

Law of Effect – “If a particular response leads to satisfaction, the response gets g=fixed and if the response leads to dissatisfaction, it is eliminated.”.

In teaching-learning – Children learn all such things that end in pleasure but avoid such things that hurt in any way.

Eg. Awards, certificates, scholarships, etc. motivate a child but negative criticism will discourage him.

Law of Exercise or Frequency or Use and Disuse – “When a connection is repeatedly made between a situation and a response, the strength of that connection is increased and vice-versa.”

In teaching-learning – Practice makes perfect and thus repetition of an idea or skill will result in better learning while long lapses will lead to forgetfulness.

Eg. Using repetition and Rhyme and Rhythm for nursery rhymes, multiplication tables, etc.

Law of Readiness – “When an organism is ready to learn, it is satisfying; when he is not ready to learn it is annoying.”.

In teaching learning – Students will be more eager and willing to learn when we arouse their interest by using novel and innovative ways.

Eg. Using Audio-visual aids, learning by doing methods, playway method, etc.

Other Laws –

Law of Belongingness – Things are recalled not in isolation but in association with others.

Eg. Along with the good children also remember their painful experiences.

Law of Intensity of Stimulus – Some situations provide greater stimulus to learning than others.

Eg. Pupils work harder for final exams than homework.

Law of Maturity – As per one’s nervous system, the mature child learns more quickly than the immature one.

Law of Primary – First impression is the last impression. Learning that takes place at the start of the activity is more lasting and effective.

Eg. First day of college.

Law of Recency – Recent acts done are well remembered and easier to recall.

Thorndike’s Trial and error

Some important theories of learning are by-.

  • Trial and Error – by Thorndike.
  • Insight – By Kohler and Koffka.
  • Imitation and Observation.
  • Classical Conditioning – by Pavlov.

Trial and error  -This theory believes that –

  • Learning involves selection and connection or trial and error.
  • We learn by making mistakes and errors.
  • Learning is incremental not insightful.
  • Learning is direct and not mediated by ideas.
  • An individual makes random efforts to reach a new goal.
  • Most of his efforts go useless but some may be quite useful in his aim.
  • By further trial and error, he synthesises his useful efforts and gradually eliminates the useless ones and ultimately reaches his aim.
  • In further attempts, he will perform the activity easily with the really needed movements and without making any useless ones.


  • Solving Maths problems, students may initially make mistakes or get confused about the steps before they finally solve the sums correctly.
  • While playing games such as basketball he falters many times to get the ball into the basket.
  • While performing experiments in the laboratory.
  • While typing on the computer or learning a musical instrument he may press the wrong keys initially.
  • While drawing a circuit diagram in physics.
  • While spelling new and complicated words.


Thus learning is a continuous process from womb to tomb and a key process in human behaviour and applying the Thorndike’s laws of learning will lead to better learning outcomes in pupils.

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