Principles of Learning

Winter 2023
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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In this program we will examine a variety of fundamental learning processes, primarily as investigated through research with human and non‐human animals. We will begin with an examination of ‘elementary’ forms of learning and then progress to a consideration of more ‘complex’ learning and cognitive processes. Some specific phenomena we will examine include: habituation and sensitization, classical (Pavlovian) conditioning, operant (instrumental) conditioning, discrimination learning, extinction, memory and cognition in humans and non-human animals. We will also explore the idea that the mechanisms of learning and manifestation in behavior are not so different in humans and non-human animals.

The main focus of this course will be on understanding the mechanisms that underlie these various forms of learning and behavior through lecture, workshop, seminar, projects, and lab. Although the primary focus of this course is on structural analyses of learning processes, some consideration is given to the biological function, natural history and ecology of study systems, as well as the history and criticism of behavior modification and applied behavior analysis.

We will apply the scientific principles of learning to human behavior via a quarter-long project where students will modify one of their own behaviors. Our self-modification project will allow students to experience first-hand the particulars of setting behavior goals, establishing a baseline, and methodically changing behavior. We will also conduct virtual labs applying the principles of learning to animal behavior.

The objectives of this course are to 1) expand your understanding of historical and contemporary learning principles through a review of empirical research in the area, 2) provide examples for how these principles are applied in research, clinical, classroom, and home setting.

For this intermediate/advanced program, any students interested in psychology, health, or science (and more!) who have solid academic skills are welcome to join us.


Winter 2023 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 20216

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies and careers in

Psychology, research and education

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$20 fee for required journal subscription


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting



Date Revision
2023-01-05 This is now an online only program.