Adaptive Learning and the Human Condition

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9780205205462: Adaptive Learning and the Human Condition

Adaptive Learning and the Human Condition presents the basic principles of classical (Pavlovian) and instrumental (Skinnerian) conditioning in a more coherent and expansive manner than is the case in other textbooks. Learning is defined as an adaptive process through which individuals acquire the ability to predict, and where possible, control the environment. This overarching definition enables integration of traditional Pavlovian and Skinnerian principles and terminology and makes explicit why treatment of the learning process is essentially limited to these two historical research paradigms. Pavlov developed a methodology for studying animals under circumstances where they could predict, but not control, sequences of environmental events. Skinner studied animals under circumstances where their behavior had an effect upon environmental events. Observational learning and symbolic communication (i.e., spoken or written language) are incorporated as indirect learning processes through which individuals can acquire the ability to predict or control. This treatment creates a perspective within which it is possible to consider the fundamental nature of the learning process in understanding the human condition and in addressing significant individual and social concerns.

Examples of applications and issues not included in similar textbooks include:

  • The role of classical and instrumental conditioning in language acquisition
  • The administration of rewards and punishers in Baumrind’s parental styles as related to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development
  • Stone-Age hunter-gatherer and technologically-advanced cultures: How did we get from there to here?
  • Self-control and self-actualization

While covering traditional technical and theoretical issues, the book is written in a clear, engaging style. The narrative builds across chapters, culminating in the treatment of applications and societal concerns of import and interest to students and faculty alike. Upon completing this book, readers should be able to: explain the significance of human condition through adaptive learning; present the basic principles of classical and instrumental conditioning; and understand the significance of scientific research

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About the Author:

Jeffrey C. Levy’s professional career at Seton Hall University may be divided into three stages, BC, DC, and AC (before, during, and after his 24-year term as chair of the Department of Psychology).  Frequently recognized for teaching excellence, he received the Deans Advisory Council’s Outstanding Teacher Award for the College of Arts & Sciences, Sears-Roebuck Award for College Teaching and Campus Leadership, and was twice nominated by Seton Hall for National CASE Professor of the Year recognition.  Trained as an experimental psychologist with interests in behavior modification, Levy regularly taught the undergraduate Learning course with and without a related animal laboratory and a graduate course in Behavior Modification.  A sabbatical opportunity subsequent to his service as chair enabled him to dedicate a year to elaborating upon this teaching experience and drafting Adaptive Learning and the Human Condition.

Review:

“The text has a focus on adaptive learning which not only underscores the relationship between operant and classical learning but highlights our individual ability to operate on and control our own environments and, thus, our own learning. Students should find this premise enormously interesting and relatable” - Margherita Rossi, Broome Community College


“I am interested! The approach appears to be unique in its focus on the adaptive function of learning, something I always emphasize in my course. I may be especially interested in this text for my graduate course in Learning, as my students are PsyD candidates. The strengths are the evolutionary emphasis and the writing style. I really liked his careful discussion of the Tolman experiment because I think it would help students understand the importance of each aspect of the design.” - Cora Sherburne, IUP


“I'm intrigued by the Levy's approach to "modernizing" the teaching of basic learning processes. I have been teaching this course for a very long time and little has been done, successfully, to deviate from the traditional approach. Levy's attempt to bring respondent and operant learning together rather than to clarify their distinctions might just work.” - Kris Biondolillo, Arkansas State University


“It takes a different approach to the coverage of behavior theory in psychology by including topics that are typically not found in most textbooks (e.g., emphasis on adaptation to the environment, social learning and culture, human applications of principles of learning).” - Peter Butera, Niagara University


“The goal of the text is to bridge the gap between science and practice. My reading of the contents suggests that it goes a long way toward meeting its goal. The author seems to have arranged the text by introducing a problem with basic-science findings and then showing their relevance to applied concerns.”  - Daniel Cerutti, California State University East Bay

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