Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Learning Curve

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1050-1

Synonyms

Definition

A graphical representation of the rate of learning (vertical y axis) in relation to number of attempts (trials) at learning (horizontal x axis).

Introduction

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

In conditioning paradigms, a learning curve is the plot of the frequency of the conditioned response as a function of the number of reinforcements received (Gallistel et al. 2004). The first recorded use of the concept of a learning curve was by Ebbinghaus (1885), who conducted...

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References

  1. Gallistel, C. R., Fairhurst, S., & Balsam, P. (2004). The learning curve: Implications of a quantitative analysis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(36), 13124–13131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 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
  3. Thorndike, E. L. (1898). Animal intelligence: An experimental study of the associative processes in animals. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 2(4), i-109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Murre, J. M. J. (2014). S-shaped learning curves. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review., 21(2), 344–356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Glautier, S. (2013). Revisiting the learning curve (once again). Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 982.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00982.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Hopper, A. N., Jamison, M. H., & Lewis, W. G. (2007). Learning curves in surgical practice. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 83(986), 777–779.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus