Gestalt Theory of Learning by Insight

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 01:37 -- Umar Farooq

Definition and Meaning

Gestalt psychology introduced by Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler in 1922. It is revolt against Stimulus Response approach to learning. It pointed out two weakness in the theory of conditioning.

  1. Conditioning reduces complex human behavior to an accumulation of simple conditioned response.
  2. Stimulus response theorists attribute learning to reduction of basic organic drives.

The Gestalt School made a strong attack on Thorndike’s theory of trial and error and asserted learning was not stamping-in of correct responses through trials and errors.

The behavioristic approach to learning was also not acceptable to Gestaltists as they wanted to study behavior as a whole and learning in its totality.

It is primarily concerned with the nature of perception. According to it an individual perceives wholes and not parts. Learning is viewed as a purposive, exploratory, imaginative and creative enterprise in which the total situation is taken into account by the learners. Kohler and Koffka conducted many experiments on chimpanzees and brought out a book “Mentality of Apes” in 1925 (which is the result of these experiments conducted during 1913-17. These experiments show that learning was not the result of trial and error but of insight and the ability to see relationship between various factors involved in a situation.

The fullest and most systematic treatment of learning from the Gestalt view point is found in Koffka’s “Principles of Gestalt Psychology” 1935. He suggested that the laws of perception were equally applicable to learning. A learning situation is a problem situation and the learner has to see the problem as a whole and find its solution by insight. The law of organization of perception as applicable to learning is the law of Pragnaz and four laws of organization subordinate to it the laws of similarity, proximity, closure and good continuation.

What is Insight Learning?

  1. It occurs with any reparations of trial
  2. It aware the association of causes and effects
  3. It occurs when information gathered

Important Principles of Gestalt Theory

  1. Students should be encouraged to find out the relation of factors lead to a problem.
  2. There are three stimuli in the learning process disturbances, gaps and incongruities
  3. Teaching strategies should rely on law of organization

Problems of Learning

The Gestalt field theory has a number of problems of learning. Which are:

  1. Capacity. Learning depends upon natural capacity of the learner.
  2. Practice. Repetitions bring to light new relationships and consolidate trace system
  3. Motivation. Law of effect is recognized in motivation
  4. Understanding. The relationship between parts and wholes and means and ends are emphasized
  5. Transfer. Generalized principles, common patterns or relationships are transferred.
  6. Forgetting. Forgetting takes place because of changes in the traces. Traces may completely disappear or they may not be available at the particular time.
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