OSHAcademy Safety Training Logo


The six laws of learning are suitable for most learning situations. Keeping these laws in mind when planning a lesson lets the instructor create a better learning atmosphere for his students.

1. Law of Readiness. A person learns best when he has the necessary background, a good attitude, and is ready to learn. He does not learn much if he sees no reason for learning. Getting a student ready to learn is usually the teacher’s job. A clear objective and a good reason for learning sometimes help to motivate students to learn even when they start off not caring. A student who is usually ready to learn meets the instructor halfway. Sometimes the instructor can do little to create a readiness to learn. Outside responsibilities, overcrowded schedules, health, finances, or family affairs can take away a student’s desire to learn.

2. Law of Exercise. Those things most often repeated are the best learned. This is the basis for practice and drill. The mind rarely retains, evaluates, and applies new concepts or practices after only one exposure. A student learns by applying what he has been taught. Every time he practices, his learning continues. There are many types of repetitions. These include student recall, review and summary, and manual drill and physical applications. All of these serve to create learning habits.

3. Law of Effect. This law is based on the feelings of the learner. Learning is stronger when joined with a pleasing or satisfying feeling. It is weakened when linked with an unpleasant feeling. An experience that produces feelings of defeat, anger, frustration, futility, or confusion in a student is unpleasant for him. This will decrease his learning capabilities. Therefore, instructors should be cautious about using punishment in the classroom. Every learning experience does not have to be entirely successful, nor does the student have to master each lesson completely. However, every learning experience should contain elements that leave the student with some good feelings. A student’s chance of success is definitely increased if the learning experience is a pleasant one.

4. Law of Primacy. Primacy is being first, which often creates a strong impression. This means that the instructor must be right the first time. Everyone knows from experience how hard it is to break a bad habit. “Unteaching” wrong first impressions is harder than teaching them right the first time. The first experience of a student should be positive. This helps to provide a stable foundation for all that follows.

5. Law of Intensity. A sharp, clear, or exciting learning experience teaches more than a routine or boring one. This law implies that a student will learn more from the real thing than a substitute. For example, a student can get more understanding and appreciation of a movie by watching it than by reading the script. A student will form a clearer concept of the speed of tank ammunition by watching it fired than by reading “5500 feet per second.” The classroom places real limits on the amount of realism that can be brought in by the instructor. So, he should use his imagination to keep things as close to real life as possible. Mockups, videotapes, interactive courseware, slides, charts, and any number of other training aids add sharpness and action to classroom instruction. Demonstrations, skits, and role playing do much to increase the leaning experience of students.

6. Law of Recency. Other things being equal, the things learned last will be best remembered. The opposite is also true. The longer the student is away from a new fact or understanding, the harder it is to remember. For example, it is fairly easy to recall a telephone number dialed a few minutes ago, but it is usually impossible to recall a new number dialed last week. The instructor must recognize the law of recency when planning a good summary. He should repeat, restate, or reemphasize the training objectives. He also repeats important information the students need to remember.

Not all of the laws of learning are in every learning situation. It is not necessary to determine which law operates in which situation. An instructor who understands the laws of learning can deal intelligently with motivation, participation, and individual differences - the three major factors that affect learning.

Source: U.S. Navy

Copyright ©2000-2015 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).