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What is Learning: Formal and Informal Theories and Styles

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Learning is a method of gaining new understanding, skills, habits, talents, beliefs, attitudes, and desires. (Carbery and Cross 2015). Learning is a mechanism that provides experience, which leads to improvement and people have more opportunity of having a successful career in future. Learning is considered an important part of HRD process. There are two types of learning, formal and informal learning. Formal learning is what might be most familiar to those individuals completing a master’s degree and certificate. Formal learning can be obtained and designed in a classroom setting and while an individual works at any firm they get on the job training which is a form of formal learning (Carbery and Cross 2015). Formal learning helps individuals to prepare for their desired job such as doctor and accountant. Informal learning is an unstructured learning in which do not haves’ specific objectives or goals targeted, and it is self-directed. Informal learning is divided into three parts, implicit, reactive, and deliberate. Implicit means when learning becomes a part of individuals experience unintentionally over time. Reactive learning takes place in response to event but takes time to articulate it. Deliberate means a time deliberately set aside for actions or some event to be performed.

There are two learning theories, social and adult learning theory. Social learning theory implies that people learn by watching the actions of others for e.g. models who are considered ‘credible and competent’ based on the work of Albert Bandura (Carbery and Cross 2015). This theory implies that four mechanisms are involved in learning, attention, retention, motor production and motivational processes. Attention means people need to be attentive to the actions that are relevant and should be observed by the participant. Retention is learner needs to maintain the skills and abilities learned by studying the model to be successful. Motor reproduction is where participants needs to practice the skills and habits, they acquired by watching the model in an effective way. Motivational processes are to see the behavior observed is implemented by an individual which would contribute to organization’s positive feedback. Adult learning theory was created in response to the need to know how adults learn. Malcolm Knowles has affected Andragogy very much. Under this theory, learning experiences are generated with the assumption that adults with their own set of life experiences and motives come to the table, can direct their own learning and prefer to learn more by doing so, want to apply their learning rather than later to specific circumstances. HRD plans the activities in a way that adults can practice their skills in convenient way. 

Everyone haves their own unique learning style. This unit has shown different types of learning styles through which students can learn and I have recognized my learning style which is formal learning style. I choose the formal learning style as I think it is the most convenient and easiest way of learning. This learning style helps me to focus on my weaknesses and strengths and work on them. Through this formal learning style, it is easy to manage time and build other skills like analytical skills. Through formal learning, lecturer can assist me if I am facing a problem and taking notes while attending classes on campus can enhance my learning about something. There are many advantages of formal learning as compared to informal learning because students can be more attentive while attending regular classes on campus. 

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