2. Edward Thorndike (1898) is
famous in psychology for his
work on learning theory that lead
to the development of operant
conditioning within behaviorism.
... Indeed, Skinner's theory of
operant conditioning is built on
the ideas of
Edward Thorndike. Thorndike st
udied learning in animals (usually
3. Theory of Thorndike
The learning theory of Thorndike represents the
original S-R framework of behavioral
psychology: Learning is the result of
associations forming between stimuli and
responses. Such associations or “habits”
become strengthened or weakened by the
nature and frequency of the S-R pairings.
6. Features of Trial and Error learning
Learning by trial and error is a gradual process
For learning to occur, the leaner must be definitely
The leaner makes random
and variable responses.
Some responses lead to
the goal (satisfying responses)
Some responses do not
lead to the goal (annoying Responses)
With increasing the trial the satisfying responses with
The time take to perform the task (to repeat the
satisfying response) decrease with successive trials.
7. Thorndike's Laws of Learning
1. The law of readiness
2. The law of exercise
3. The law of effect
1. Law of multiple response
2. Law of attitude
3. Law of prepotency of elements
4. Law of response by analogy
5. Law of associative shift
8. The law of Readiness
The law states that, when a conduction units is ready
to conduct, for it to do so is satisfying. When a
conduction unit is not ready to conduct, for it to
conduct is annoying. When a conduction unit is
ready to conduct, not to conduct is also annoying.
This law emphasizes the role of readiness or mental
set to participate in the learning process. If the
child is ready to learn, learning
occurs faster. If he not ready
and learning is imposed it
becomes annoyed only.
If he is ready and he denied
that opportunity, it is
also becomes annoying to him.
9. Classroom Application of Law of
Teacher must wait till leaner is ready to learn
and give experience help to enhances
Aptitude tests in various subjects may be given
to determine the thoroughness of leaner's.
10. The law of Exercise
This law implies the strengthening of stimulus-
response connection with practice and their
weakening when practice is not continued. The law
is spitted in to two they are:
a) The law of use :- The law states that, when a
modifiable connection is
made between a situation
and response that
connection’s strength is,
other things being equal,
increased. The means
that S-R connections is
strengthened by practice.
11. b) The law of disuse :- The law states that, when
a modifiable connection is not made between a
situation and response, during a length of time,
that connection’s strength is decreased. This
means, any act that is not practiced for some
time gradually decays.
12. Classroom Application of
Law of Exercise
More and more opportunities should be given to
the students to use and repeat the knowledge
they get in the class.
To maintain the connections for longer period,
review of the learned material is necessary.
Drill strengthens the bondage
between S-R drill in elementary
class drill practice is important.
13. The law of effect
The law states that, when a modifiable
connection between stimulus and response is
made and is accompanied by satisfying state of
affairs, that connection’s strength is increased.
When it is accompanied by an annoying state of
affairs, its strength is decreased.
Learning can be said to have
taken place properly when
it results in satisfaction
and the leaner derives
pleasure from it.
14. Classroom Application of
Law of Effect
The classroom experiences
should be satisfactory and pleasant.
School experiences and activities must be
arranged in such a way the learners must have
some degree of confidence and success in their
School activities should be organized in
increasing difficulty order.
Material should be provided in varied ways so
that novelty may be maintained.
16. Subordinate Laws
1. Law of multiple response : The law implies that
confronted with a new learning situation the
learner responds in a variety of ways before
arriving at the correct response.
2. Law of attitude : The learner performs the task
well if he has his attitude set in the task.
3. Law of prepotency of element : The learner
uses his insight, selects the proponent elements
in a situation and based his responses upon
17. 4. Law of response by analogy : The learner
responds to a new learning situation on the
basis of the response made by him in similar
situations in the past.
5. Law of associative shifting : The response of the
learner shifts with situations. This shifting is
done in respect of the basic stimulus or some
related associative stimulus.
18. Educational Implications
Thorndike’s theory emphasize the importance of motivation in
It stress the importance of mental readiness, meaningful
practice and incentives in learning process.
The law of readiness implies that the teacher should prepare
the mind of the students.
More and more opportunities should be given to the leaner's
to use repeat knowledge.
Review of learning material in order to maintain learning
connection in longer period.
Law of effect give importance to motivation and
Learning based on past experience.