Principle of Learning #7 – Agency

This post presents a brief elaboration on the seventh of seven principles of learning:

Principle #7 – Agency. Learners are not passive recipients of learning, but active agents with the ability to choose how they will apply their attention and effort, and to choose what learning activities they will engage in. Others may exercise their agency to promote or inhibit the agency of the learner, and may play a role in facilitating or impeding successful learning.

As shown in Table 12, the Principles-of-Learning Framework distinguishes between four agent roles: (a) learner, (b) peer, (c) mentor, and (d) administrator. The learner is assumed to be an active agent, able to determine his or her own learning targets, practice models, contexts of practice, and reasons for engagement. A learner is also able to choose whether or not to engage with learning opportunities that are determined by others, and to decide what level of effort to give. The roles of peer, mentor and administrator are defined with regard to their impact on the learner. The terms mentor and peer are used here in a broad sense, defined by their function in this relationship, as opposed to any concomitant connotation of occupational or enrollment status in a formal institution of education.

When a person is co-experiencing learning with the learner and working toward the same or very similar learning goals, they are acting in the role of peer. Peers can be a major determinant of learner engagement by providing motivation, in the form of pleasant affiliation and positive validation, or inhibition, in the form of unpleasant affiliation and negative validation. Peers may also provide examples of emerging or successful models of target performance, and function as observational models to facilitate vicarious learning. Interactive models of practice might also involve peer participation. In some cases, peers will function as human participants in the learning context, without any direct interaction with the learner.

Table 12

Four Roles of Agency in the Principles-of-Learning Framework

—Determine own learning targets, practice models, contexts, and reasons for engagement
—Choose whether or not to engage with learning opportunities determined by others, and level of effort to give

—Provide a primary source of motivation or inhibition by way of pleasant or unpleasant affiliation and positive or negative validation
—Function as participants in practice models

—Determine learning targets, practice models, motivation, and context with regard to current capacity and individual nature of the learner
—Provide proximal feedback and guidance

—Determine learning targets, practice models, motivation, and context without regard to current capacity and individual nature of the learner
—Provide distal feedback without guidance


When a person determines learning targets, models of practice, motivators of engagement, and context of practice with regard to the current capacity and individual nature of the learner; and when they provide proximal feedback, assistance, and guidance directly to the learner; they are acting in the role of mentor. In contrast, a person that determines learning targets, models of practice, motivators of engagement, and context of practice without regard to the current capacity and individual nature of the learner; and provides only distal feedback (e.g., grades, certificates of completion or graduation); is acting in the role of administrator. Though agents in both roles set the parameters of the overall learning experience, mentors do so with attendance to the specific needs of the individual learner, while administrators do not. The completed principles-of-learning framework is shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. The Principles-of-Learning Framework

Figure 9. The Principles-of-Learning Framework

Figure 9. The completed principles-of-learning framework

Weibell, C. J. (2011). Principles of learning: A conceptual framework for domain-specific theories of learning. 

Principle of Learning #6 – Engagement

This post presents a brief elaboration on the sixth of seven principles of learning:

Principle #6 – Engagement. Learners will often engage in certain activities as a matter of habit, though they are also influenced by their current capacity to engage, as well as factors of motivation and inhibition related to the activity as a whole, part of the activity, its circumstances, or its expected results.

Figure 8. The relationship between the four components of motivation

Figure 8. The relationship between the four components of motivation

As shown in Figure 8, engagement is divided into four components: (a) capacity, (b) habit, (c) motivation, and (d) inhibition. The necessary condition for engagement in any learning activity is that the learner must possess sufficient physical, mental or emotional capacity to do so. Where capacity is insufficient it may, in most cases, be acquired through (a) antecedent learning (e.g., the acquisition of pre-requisite knowledge and skills), (b) biological maturation (e.g., growing taller and stronger, or developing coordination), (c) recovery (e.g., from fatigue or injury), or (d) supplementation (e.g., prosthetics, ergonomic affordances, reference material, guides, drugs, or assistance from others). In other cases, the learning activity itself may need to be adapted in order to accommodate learners with limitations that may not be overcome through one of the four ways listed above.

There are many and various reasons for which a person might engage in, or avoid, a given learning activity. It is usually the case that a person will engage in certain activities, do things in a certain way, or avoid certain activities, based on previously established habits. Habits of activity, however, are subject to current levels of capacity, factors of motivation, and factors of inhibition. Given sufficient capacity, habits of engagement are swayed by factors of motivation or inhibition. An enumeration of these factors is given below.

Any factor which draws learner engagement is a factor of motivation. Motivational factors are represented in the principles-of-learning framework by the following five categories of motivation, not in any particular order:

1. Pleasant Sensation – intellectual, emotional, or physical pleasure
2. Pleasant Affiliation – interaction and relationships with others
3. Positive Validation – establishment and validation of one’s identity, self-worth, self-efficacy, self-esteem, or reputation
4. Extension – increase in one’s capacity (learning itself can be motivating (1))
5. Opportunity – the future possibility of engagement in some activity which brings pleasant sensation, pleasant affiliation, positive validation, extension, or additional opportunity

Any factor which deters engagement is a factor of inhibition. Inhibitory factors are represented in the model by five categories of inhibition:

1. Unpleasant Sensation – unpleasant intellectual, emotional, or physical sensation
2. Unpleasant Affiliation – unpleasant interaction and relationships with others
3. Negative Validation – diminution of one’s identity, self-worth, self-efficacy, self-esteem, or reputation
4. Interference – conflict with a more preferred activity
5. Responsibility – any future social or moral obligation incurred through increase in capacity, including the need to consistently meet or exceed one’s own self-established standard

Each factor of motivation and inhibition may be associated with (a) the learning activity as a whole, (b) one or more parts of the learning activity, (c) the circumstances in which the learning activity takes place, or (d) the expected results of the learning activity. While pleasant sensation and pleasant affiliation are motivational factors of the activity itself, positive validation, extension, and opportunity, are associated primarily with the results of the learning engagement. If pleasant sensation and affiliation are not authentic or inherent to the learning activity, they may compete with or detract from it. Hence, motivation in these two categories that is artificial to the learning activity should probably be avoided. At a minimum, it must be conducive to true engagement, or actual learning may be derailed.

Like their motivational counterparts, unpleasant sensation and unpleasant affiliation are associated with the activity itself, as is interference. Negative validation and responsibility are associated with its results. Unlike their counterparts in motivation, however, unpleasant sensation and unpleasant affiliation discourage engagement regardless of whether they are inherent to the activity or artificially added in the practice model.

Presumably, motivation stemming from the complete learning activity itself will produce the most significant (Principle #3f) engagement, followed by motivation stemming from only a portion or part of the activity, followed by motivation stemming from the expected results of the activity, and then by motivation from circumstances in which the activity takes place. In the third case, circumstantial motivation, the actual source of motivation is incidental to, but not part of, the activity—occuring immediately before or after the activity, occurring in parallel with but separate from the activity, or appearing briefly on the scene in tangential fashion. Proximal effects of inhibition are presumed to mirror those of motivation. That is, inhibition stemming from the activity as a whole will produce the greatest aversion to participation, followed by inhibition stemming from only part of the activity, followed by inhibition stemming from the expected results of the activity, and finally, followed by circumstantial inhibition. This presumed ordering of effect for both motivation and inhibition is assumed to be generally true, but by no means absolute.

In many cases, some parts of an activity may be the cause of inhibition while other parts simultaneously give cause for motivation to engage. Although the ultimate determination for engagement is learner choice, as will be discussed next (Principle #7), it is assumed in the model that choice is strongly influenced by the net strength of combined factors of capacity, habit, motivation and inhibition. When capacity is truly lacking, engagement cannot occur. When habit of engagement or aversion has been previously established, that same pattern will generally persist unless influenced by factors of motivation or inhibition. When total motivation outweighs total inhibition, learners will engage. When total inhibition outweighs total motivation, the learner will either abstain from engaging entirely, or will engage and participate in an amotivational state, simply going through the motions(2) but without significance.


1. As Merrill (2009) said, “Perhaps the greatest motivator of all is learning itself. Human beings are wired to learn.” (p. 21)

2. See Deci and Ryan (2000, p. 72).

Principle of Learning #5 – Context

This post presents a brief elaboration on the fifth of seven principles of learning:

Principle #5 – Context. Learning is facilitated by a context of practice that is the same as, or accurately represents, the context of performance.

Just as models of practice are most effective when they are the same as, or genuinely approximate, the activities of performance which they are intended to improve, so too, a context of practice which accurately represents the context of performance is more effective than one that does not. Any limited or artificial context of practice used to manage the step size of learning should (a) be constructed with great attention to specific details of what is omitted, included, or modified relative to the authentic context; (b) should be utilized judiciously with specific purpose; and (c) should not replace the complete, expected context of performance for longer than is necessary. There are two reasons for moderate use of limited or artificial context. The first is that artificial contexts typically do not supply all of the necessary features of authentic activity. The second is that learners come to rely on features in the artificial context that will not be available to them in the authentic context of the activity.

Figure 7. Learning is facilitated by a context of practice that is the same as, or accurately represents, the context of performance.

Figure 7. Learning is facilitated by a context of practice that is the same as, or accurately represents, the context of performance.

Not all features of context are important. Hence, in many cases, part of what is practiced in learning is constant discrimination between salient and non-salient contextual features, and learning to respond to changes in a dynamic context. Because of this, the context of practice may need to vary, both to give learners a chance to identify and respond to critical elements, and to facilitate transfer of skills across all relevant variations which are expected.

A useful distinction is made in the framework between internal context and external context. Internal context is defined by one’s state of thought, emotion, and belief. External context is defined by the presence of other people, the physical setting, and any tools or objects present.(1) Context for acts of thinking, believing, and feeling may stem from external sources, but may also manifest as the result of internal factors. For example, specific thoughts might induce certain feelings, and specific feelings might give rise to certain thoughts or beliefs. Context for acts of doing is largely external. Internal context is primarily induced through elements in the external context and sensory input received through interaction, however, internal context which is induced internally is also a factor in acts of doing, and accounts for phenomena such as chickening out or psyching oneself up to meet a formidable challenge.


1. Although tools are a type of object, a distinction is highlighted here between objects which might be used in some way to perform an activity and objects which serve only an interpretive purpose in the activity—for example, a street skateboarder will ride the skateboard object, and slide down a stair rail. In this activity, these two objects constitute tools of use. Other objects in the scene along with their physical attributes—such as a trash can, rocks on the ground, a nearby picnic table, the sheen of the paint on the rail and whether or not the paint is chipped—are objects that provide an interpretive context for the skateboarder to estimate the height of the drop, the slipperiness of the rail, and the best launch and landing point. The term objects is used here to include both animate and inanimate objects.

Principle of Learning #4 – Practice

This post presents a brief elaboration on the fourth of seven principles of learning:

Principle #4 – Practice. Principles of change are activated and aligned with learning targets through models of practice, exercise, or experience.

Figure 6. Principles of change are activated and aligned with learning targets through models of practice, exercise, and experience

Figure 6. Principles of change are activated and aligned with learning targets through models of practice, exercise, and experience

It is in the componential features of practice activities that principles of change are realized and are aligned with learning targets (Figure 6). Just as learning targets may be determined intentionally or incidentally, so too are various types of practice activities determined, with or without intention. As used here, practice models refer to activities that are specifically designed or selected to move a person toward a predetermined target of learning. Similarly, exercise is used to refer to the type of repeated activity that is intended to build up strength or precision—which are two examples of vertical capacity increase that enable a more advanced level of performance.

Experience refers to unplanned, incidental activities that are not coordinated with specific learning targets and that lack intentional accounting for implementation of the principles of change which govern learning. Learning occurs in such activities as the result of any adjustment made by a person to adapt to aspects of the experience which are beyond their current limits of capacity; or to modify their patterns of acting, believing, or feeling, thereby establishing new habits. Because it is not directed toward a specific target of learning, incidental learning through unplanned experience is not as efficient as learning through designed or selected models of practice and exercise in the attainment of specific targets. In fact, many learning targets would never be attained without such direction. Note, however, that designed practice models should not be misinterpreted to mean artificial, or decontextualized models of practice activity. On the contrary, the most effective models of practice are those in which practice activities are exactly the same as, or provide genuine approximation of, the activities of performance which they are intended to make possible or improve. It is certainly possible to design a practice model which simultaneously maximizes learning and approximation of expected activities of performance, though doing so may require some effort.

Principle of Learning #3 – Change

This post presents a brief elaboration on the third of seven principles of learning:

Principle #3 – Change. Learning is a specific type of change, which is governed by principles of (a) repetition, (b) time, (c) step size, (d) sequence, (e) contrast, (f) significance, and (g) feedback.

Figure 5. Seven principles of change by which the inner mechanism by which learning is facilitated

Figure 5. Seven principles of change by which the inner mechanism by which learning is facilitated

These seven principles of change are the inner mechanism by which learning is facilitated; in other words, the constraints and requirements of each of these principles must be satisfied in order for learning to take place. At first, changes in capacity and habit may be somewhat ephemeral and unstable. However, in accord with the seven principles of change which will now be discussed, these changes become long lasting and stable.

Principle #3a – Repetition. Learning is facilitated by repeated experience. Repetition in learning is much more than the redundant drill and practice by which it is so often characterized. Beyond its application to learning by rote, repetition plays a significant role in the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the unplanned, informal, experiential learning of our lives. Where there exists a similarity across objects or events, there exists a pattern. Where there exists a pattern, there exists the possibility of anticipating reoccurrence of the event characteristics that make up the pattern. As we recognize these patterns we are able to respond to them in systematic and automatic ways, refining and improving our response over time. Recognition comes by way of repeated exposure to the pattern. Thus, by the same principle of repetition which makes possible the rote memorization of discrete facts we might also develop higher order skills such as closing a complex sales transaction, managing personal or business finances, or delivering a public speech. It is primarily through repetition that patterns become well established and are differentiated from what has already been learned. [Note: Where there is greater significance (Principle #3f), or more easily attained contrast (Principle #3e), there is a decreased need for repetition.]

Principle #3b – Time. Learning takes time. Time does not cause learning to happen but provides a necessary condition for it to take place. This foundational role of time in learning was well stated by McGeoch (1932) when he said, 

Time, in and of itself, does nothing. It contributes, rather, a logical framework in terms of which we can describe the sequence of observed events. Certain spans of it are necessary in order to give other and effective factors a chance to operate, and time, thus, figures largely in scientific description, but not as a factor in causal laws nor is itself active in any way. (p. 359)

There are two important aspects of time in learning. First is the total amount of time required to attain the learning target. Second is the distribution of learning activity within that span of time. Because of mental and physical fatigue, it is generally not feasible to reach a sizable target in one continuous session of practice. Instead, sufficient time must be allowed for the learning target (i.e., the pre-determined change in capacity) to be achieved, and then practice must be distributed within that span of time as necessary to allow for recovery from physical and mental fatigue. [Note: Time is primarily a function of repetition (Principle #3a), or, the duration and frequency of whatever practice models, exercise, or experience (Principle #4) are necessary to effect the desired change in capacity (Principle #2).] Distribution of practice is also necessary because massed, repeated exposure results in temporary automaticity, meaning the activity may be performed without attention. Until firmly established however, this automaticity is fleeting.

Principle #3c – Step size. Smaller increments of attainment are more easily and more quickly achieved than larger ones. Intuitively, one might be inclined to find fault with this principle by citing the very large amount of time and effort required for someone working at an expert level to refine their performance—for example, the hours and hours and hours of practice that go into shaving a mere few hundredths of a second off a race time or making very subtle changes in posture to perfect one’s form in gymnastics or dance. These examples seem to be in direct contradiction to the principle as stated. In fact, it can easily be argued that most of the work that goes into training for world champion athletes, expert craftsmen, or top notch professionals, is required at the high end of performance in which the least amount of gain is realized. The misunderstanding here, however, is in regards to the metric of attainment. Step size of attainment is not a measure of the amount of time taken off the clock, or the magnitude of change in effective displacement toward refinement of a physical movement or posture. It isn’t the change in degree of precision in communication, execution of a medical procedure, or preparation of a technical specification. To the contrary, step size of attainment is a measure of effort. It’s not the size of the resulting change, but rather, the amount of effort required to make it happen. [Note: The amount of effort required is relative to what has previously been learned (Principle #3d) and is also a function of the degree of difficulty an individual might experience in achieving a particular learning target due to physical, psychological, or emotional traits and conditions, as well as previously established habits of engagement or aversion (Principle #6).]

Principle #3d – Sequence. Prior learning may facilitate or hinder ensuing attainment. This principle captures two ways in which prior learning might affect new learning. In the first case, something that has been learned previously can be applied in a beneficial way toward learning something new. For example, previous experience wakeboarding behind a boat means one does not have to acquire basic board skills (i.e., posturing, balance, speed control, and steering) when learning to kiteboard. Since full attention can be devoted to learning to control the kite and respond to wind and water surface changes, a person who has prior wakeboarding experience will be able to take up kiteboarding more quickly, all other things being equal, than someone who does not. The same analogy can be used to consider the second case, where previous learning may hinder learning something new. The learner with previous wakeboarding experience comes into kiteboarding with a habit of using the rope handle to bear his weight and pull him across the surface of the water. This presents a problem in the kiteboarding situation however, as the in-and-out motion of the handle is used to control kite speed, which is the surface area of the kite that is exposed to the oncoming wind stream. When taking up kiteboarding, the wakeboarder will need to fight the urge to pull on the handle and instead learn to sit back into the waist harness to which the kite is attached, leaving his arms free to vary kite speed as needed by moving the handle up or down. [Note: The facilitating effects of sequence are dependent on recognition of how what is currently being learned relates to what has already been learned (Principle #3e) as well as the degree of effort (Principle #3c) required to coordinate previously acquired knowledge and skills. Maximal facilitating effects of sequence are realized when the coordinating effort is minimal, or fully automatic, and there is full and accurate recognition of how what is currently being learned is related to what has been learned previously.]

Principle #3e – Contrast. That which is to be learned must be differentiated from and related to that which has already been learned, or from that which is similar, but critically different. The principle of contrast applies to the learning of factual knowledge, the understanding of concepts, the execution of physical movements, and performance of complex tasks, as well as to the formation of beliefs and the cultivation of feeling. When new knowledge, skills, or beliefs are perceived as being no different from existing knowledge, skills, and beliefs, the salient features of what is new will be ignored and will be lost. Learning will not take place because what is new will be discounted as simply another case of what is already known. To prevent this, differences between what has already been learned, or between new things which are similar, must be accurately and fully recognized by the learner. [Note: Both repetition (Principle #3a) and significance (Principle #3f) facilitate the process of differentiation: repetition provides multiple opportunities for comparison between similar instances; significance, through attention, brings to light salient similarities and critical differences.]

Principle #3f – Significance. That which is to be learned must be significant in some way to the learner. Significant learning experiences are those which claim the attention of the learner, those which are connected to prior experience and knowledge, those which require the exertion of effort, or those which are accompanied by an intensity of sensation or emotion. Significance through meaning can result from repetition (i.e., the establishment of familiarity of a previously unfamiliar pattern, as described in Principle #3a) but may also initiate it. For example, the occasional experience which has a certain novelty, demands great effort, or is accompanied by strong intensity or emotion will often be rehearsed repeatedly in the mind, related in communication with others, and even acted out. Mental rehearsal permits learning with apparently, but not actually, less repetition than might otherwise be expected since internal rehearsal takes the place of external reenactment. [Note: With greater significance and contrast (Principle #3e), fewer acts of repetition (Principle #3a) are required since once the critical features are understood, it is no longer necessary to discover them.] Also, as previously noted, (Principle #2), significance that stems from novelty, intensity, and effort wanes with repetition, as the mind and body adjust and provide automatic, but temporary, ways of responding.

Principle #3g – Feedback. Feedback is the means by which learning is directed toward a specific target of attainment. All intentional or directed learning is aimed at the attainment of some target. Feedback is the means by which the learner, or any other agent directing the learning process, ascertains whether or not progress is being made toward the end goal, and whether or not the goal has been reached. Feedback may come in many forms but, when effective, always provides an indication of (a) whether or not the target has been attained, (b) whether or not the learner is making progress toward the objective, and (c) what needs to happen in order for the learner to move forward. It is also true that feedback plays a role in incidental learning—i.e., learning in which the target is not intentional, but rather, is incidental to circumstances to which the learner is subjected. By this definition, there are two cases to consider. First is the case in which a person has no intention to learn, but engages in various activities for some other reason (e.g., to earn money, to pursue pleasure, to get a high score, to avoid negative consequences, or to get something for nothing). In this case, the feedback that person will be attending to is feedback regarding whether or not they are meeting their goals. Under these circumstances adjustments may be made that result in an increase of capacity or establishment of habit, and thus, learning will occur. As an example, many people have little interest in technology per se, but are very interested in maintaining social connections and interacting with their friends. In pursuit of new means by which to engage, they incidentally acquire knowledge about, skill to use, and habits of engaging with mobile devices and online social networks. The second case where feedback plays a role in incidental learning is when a person is actually working towards a predetermined learning target (i.e., an intentional target), but makes incidental attainment of other targets along the way which may or may not be incremental steps toward the end goal itself.

Principle of Learning #2 – Target

This post presents a brief elaboration on the second of seven principles of learning:

Principle #2 – Target. Human potential may be channeled intentionally toward a specific, predetermined target of learning, or will otherwise follow incidentally from the conditions to which a person is subjected.

This second principle, which has been added to the framework as shown in Figure 3, deals with determination of the target toward which learning activity will tend. It states that human potential will be either (a) channeled, intentionally, toward a specific target of learning (which channeling may be executed by the person himself, or by another—see Principle of Learning #7 – Agency), or (b) shaped incidentally by circumstance. An intentional learning target is one that is selected and defined in advance of engaging in activity that will lead to the desired learning outcome. An incidental target, on the other hand, is not selected in advance, but is a culminating, consequent result of whatever activities a person engages in.

Figure 3. A target of learning may be selected intentionally or follow incidentally

Figure 3. A target of learning may be selected intentionally or follow incidentally

A target may also be considered in terms of its complexity and applicability. The complexity of a target is defined by the number of sub-targets into which it may be divided, recursively. A target of minimal complexity (i.e., a simple target) cannot reasonably be subdivided. All other targets are divisible into two or more immediate sub-targets, each of which, if also complex, is further divisible, recursively (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Simple and complex targets of learning

Figure 4. Simple and complex targets of learning

The applicability of a target is a measure of the number of complex targets in which it participates as a sub-target. A target with limited applicability is the sub-target of only one, or a few targets of greater complexity. A target with broad applicability is a sub-target of many targets.

Principle of Learning #1 – Potential

This post presents a brief elaboration on the first of seven principles of learning:

Principle #1 – Potential. Humans are endowed with an inherent potential for increase in capacity, the establishment of habit, and the definition of being.  This is the first principle of learning, upon which all others are predicated.

Principle of Learning #1 - Potential

Figure 1. Human potential for increase of capacity, establishment of habit, and definition of being

That every person has capacity is a self-evident reality. As used here, capacity refers to one’s ability to do, to think, to believe, and to feel. Doing and thinking are both ways of acting. To act by doing is to interact with the external world. To act by thinking is to interact with the internal workings of one’s mind. Thus, capacity to act refers to the extent of one’s ability to interact with both the shared external and the private internal worlds.

Similarly, capacity to believe is the extent of one’s ability to hope, to dream, or to have faith. Belief determines the self-prescribed bounding limits of one’s actions.

Capacity to feel is the extent of one’s ability to connect with people, events, places, or things. Feeling determines both the depth and richness of one’s experiences.

It is the primordial function of human life, to extend the capacity and establish the habits of the individual, whether by his or her own intention, the intention of another, or by happenstance. Figure 1 depicts this potential for increase, with the stick figure in the lower left representing one’s current state, and the stick figure in the upper right representing some potential state.

Except in very rare and unusual circumstances, a person’s capacity to act, to believe, and to feel has potential for increase. Capacity can increase both in range and degree (Figure 2). An increase in range is a horizontal expansion that provides for greater flexibility or broader application. An increase in degree is a vertical expansion that brings greater accuracy, efficiency, depth, or intensity. An increase in range enables a person to do more; to think about more; to believe in more; and to feel, or emotionally respond, to more. An increase in degree enables a person to do it better, to think more effectively or more profoundly, to believe with greater endurance, and to feel more deeply.

Figure 2. Capacity can increase in both range (horizontally) and degree (vertically)

Figure 2. Capacity can increase in both range (horizontally) and degree (vertically)

Habits are automated patterns of doing, thinking, believing, and feeling. Just as capacity can be increased through the process of learning, so too can habits be established; and they can be changed.

Not only does the human potential allow for increase in capacity and establishment of habit, but even the very being of a person can change. As used here, being refers one’s character, nature, and perpetual desire.

Thus, learning is the process by which a stable and enduring increase in capacity, the establishment of habit, and the definition of one’s being, is produced.