A graphical representation of the rate of learning (vertical y axis) in relation to number of attempts (trials) at learning (horizontal x axis).
A learning curve shows the progression of learning over time in repeated attempts to arrive at the solution of a problem, which may be practical (e.g., open the door of a puzzle box) or mental (e.g., memorize information, find the solution to a mathematical problem, etc.) in nature. Although developed at the end of the nineteenth century, the concept still is used in contemporary research to plot performance progression and skill acquisition over time.
Development of the Concept and First Experiments
- Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Über das Gedchtnis. Untersuchungen zur experimentellen Psychologie. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot. the English edition is Ebbinghaus, H. (1913). Memory. A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University (Reprinted Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1999).Google Scholar