Learning is a life-long process that involves the acquisition of knowledge through different forms of media like reading, listening, watching content, etc. Even though it is used in the realm of pedagogy, learning is not something that is restricted to education - in fact, it is not even restricted to human beings. Animals can be trained to learn tricks, even machines can be trained to carry out operations based on the concept of deep learning and machine learning - it just depends on the context and factors affecting learning what they are learning. So, learning is essentially just the obtaining and retaining of information for it to be used later on in a practical application.
Learning is a process that is both social and cognitive. It is a social process in the sense that when we live in a society, we tend to learn from our experiences in that society, and it is cognitive in the sense that it involves paying attention, viewing, analyzing, thinking, interpreting, and helping find meaning to the observed occurrences.
Factors Affecting Learning
Every person is different, and so is their learning ability. Different people learn differently, and it is important to understand what the factors affecting learning are to get a better understanding of how they affect individuals.
This is one of the most important factors affecting learning across ages. Different people will have different aptitudes - some people might be better skilled at mathematics, and as a result might find sciences easier to learn, while others have difficulty in the same subject. Again, the people who find mathematics difficult might find economics and humanities easier to comprehend. It is always important to consider a person’s aptitude before deciding what they want to do in life in the future. If someone feels that they do not know what their aptitude is, it is better to take an aptitude test and find out what works for them best so that they do not get stuck doing something that they cannot do.
Goals and Aspirations
Now, just because a person is good at something does not mean that it should be their goal in life. People who are talented in one field sometimes excel in other fields as well. A top example would be Hedy Lamarr. She was one of the most brilliant engineers at the time and invented signal-hopping technology that turned out to be one of the most fundamental requirements of later technologies like GPS and WiFi. However, even though she was good at her work, her interests lay in acting, and today she is considered one of the best actors that the world. So goals and aspirations also come into play when it comes to learning - learning something that you don’t like will invariably make you hate it even if you are good at it.
Motivation is another one of the driving factors affecting learning. A person’s motivation to do work is directly related to how motivated they are to do that particular piece of work. To study, a student must have both intrinsic motivation as well as extrinsic motivation. In fact, there are 10 types of motivation - all of which are essential in a student’s life.
Locus of Control
Locus of control refers to the belief held by a person regarding the positive or negative outcomes in a person’s life. What that means is that a person might believe that what they do influences their outcome. For example, a person with a high internal locus of control would feel that their work and talent were the reason for their success. Such students will be proactive in their approach to learning and actively seek ways to improve themselves. A student with a low locus of control would not take steps towards learning about their weaknesses and rectifying them.
Different students have different learning styles. Some students prefer visual learning because it helps them remember the concepts better, while some students find an auditory learning experience the best way to learn. Some other students might prefer a lesson that makes them feel like they had any experience with the thing they were learning - this type of learning is called kinesthetic learning. So whether a student prefers a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning style is also one of the most important factors affecting learning among students.
Learning is different for different people in terms of time, spacing in between lessons, amount of content they can study in a particular amount of time, how long they can retain that information, and so on. The factors affecting learning change with the age group as well. For example, for a school student, time is not that big of a concern because they have a lot of it, but in the case of an adult learner, time is of the essence because they have other responsibilities as well. So, make sure that as a learner, you sort identify the most important factors affecting your learning process and sort them out so that you have clarity on what to do and how to go about doing it.