Universidad de Jaén

Menú local

Syllabus 2015-16 - 12611003 - Learning and Conditioning (Aprendizaje y condicionamiento)

  • Level 1: Tutorial support sessions, materials and exams in this language
  • Level 2: Tutorial support sessions, materials, exams and seminars in this language
  • Level 3: Tutorial support sessions, materials, exams, seminars and regular lectures in this language
DEGREE: Grado en Psicología
COURSE: Learning and Conditioning
NAME: Learning and Conditioning
CODE: 12611003 ACADEMIC YEAR: 2015-16
OFFICE NO.: C5 - 130 E-MAIL: rmartos@ujaen.es P: 953211997
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3130-7799

1.- Definition of learning

  • Learning and behaivior
  • General considerations about learning

2.- Learning about a single stimulus

  • Habituation.
  • Sensitization.
  • Theories and Mechanism of habituation and sensitization.
  • Principles of regulation and complex emotions.

3.- Learning about the relationships among stimuli

  • Principles about classical conditioning.
  • Basic effects and conditions.
  • Contents of learning in classical conditioning.
  • Conditionign in humans.

4.- Theories of classical conditioning and applications.

  • Associative models of learning.
  • Applications: phobic behavior, drug addiction, psychoneuroimmunology.

5.- Learning about relationships between responses and outcomes

  • Historical perspective and definitions.
  • Phenomena and principles of instrumental conditioning.
  • Conditions and contents of instrumental learning.
  • Reinforcement schedules.
  • Choice behavior.

6.- Theories of performance and instrumental learning

  • Law of effect.
  • Drive reduction Theory.
  • Consummatory response hypothesis.
  • Differential probability theory.
  • Response deprivation hypothesis.
  • Behavioral regulation theory.
  • Reinforcement and punisment.
  • Theories about instrumental learning.

7.- Change of behavior, extinction and interference

  • Extinction and interference.
  • Mechanisms of information recovery after interference.
  • Inhibitory associations and effect of partial reinforcement extinction.

8.- Social learning

  • Social learning in animals.
  • Social learning in humans.
  • Social learning theories.


The activities and the methods applied to develop such activities are oriented to the student reaching the learning outcomes linked to the competences trained in the course, and in the learning module in which the course is inserted: R03, R04, R05, and R06. The course is structured around activities in large group (3 hours per week), and activities in small group (1 hour every fortnight). Through these activities the student:

a)   Will acquire and understand the knowledge that defines and articulates psychology as a scientific discipline within the study of the processes of conditioning and learning (R03).

b)   Will study and analyze the different theoretical models that apply to learning and conditioning, its fundaments, differences, and limitations (R05).

c)    Will learn to emit grounded judgments about social, scientific, or ethical problems (R04) related to learning and conditioning

d)   Project oriented methodology developed in small groups activities allow the student to apply the knowledge acquired during large group activities to resolution of real problems such as animal training (R06).

The different evaluation tests described in the evaluation section allow verifying the level of performance reached by each student in reaching the above learning outcomes.  

  Activities in large groups: Three weekly hours of lectures in which the contents of the course will be explained. Attendance and regular work is required. During class, different theoretical-practical activities will be programmed with the goal of facilitating the assimilation of the theoretical contents of the course by the student. These activities will require the assistance, implication, and autonomous work of the students. Periodically, some classes will be devoted to global tutoring (112.5 total hours of student work).

Activities in small groups: One hour every other week.

B.1) Virtual training of Sniffy. In general, all students have to conduct a virtual training of Sniffy: This is a computer software that simulates behavior of a laboratory rat, and allows for its training by manipulating reinforcing contingencies and using the principles of psychology of learning (Alloway, T.; Wilson, G. y Graham, J. (2006). Sniffy. La rata virtual. Madrid. Thomson). Students will work following the instructions of the software and possible doubts will be solved during instructor office hours. Virtual training will be evaluated in a continued way in practical classes throughout the semester.

B.2) Project-oriented learning: PET. Alternatively, student in their firs application on the course, can conduct a real pet training. One hour every other week in which a team of 4-5 students should plan and develop the training of a pet. (37.5 total hours of student work). Each team will chose one of several goal behaviors in which their pet should be trained using learning and conditioning techniques and procedures. Once training is finished, they should expose the result of their project to the other students. The project will be evaluated by the other students in the class and the instructor. Developing of the project should follow this phases:

1.    Information-Training: Students will be informed about the activity they have to do at the beginning of the semester (September). They will be lecturer on basic principles of learning and animal training at that time.

2.    Activity planning: Students will establish the work teams (4 to 5 people) on September. They will design and plan their own animal training project of one of the students's pet. This activity must not involve the acquisition of a pet. The team that does not have a pet available will perform the alternative activity described below. The design and planning process will be supervised by the instructors that will give the authorization for conducting the activity. The deadline for handing the project to the activity instructor is September 30, 2014.

3.    Carrying out the project: Animal training will be developed between October 1 and November 15. Video information should be recorded throughout the process so that the initial situation, the progress and the final results. Work teams will be advised and supervised by the instructors of the course. Training activity should be finished by November 15.  

4.    Assessment of the activity: Work teams will present their work to the teachers between November 17 and December 19, 2014. The results of the activity will be later presented to the class where it will be assessed by the instructors and the rest of the students.

To follow the course the student should assist to the classes and sign up in the virtual learning platform, in which she/he will find all the information concerning the course: Presentations, self-evaluation questions, group and work-team related information, deadlines, etc. To follow the information about the course the student must consult the information in the platform regularly.

Supervision and report handling deadlines are mandatory. Missing any deadline will negatively affect the activity evaluation.

Similarly, attending to class is mandatory. Missing classes will affect the final evaluation of the course.

Students with special educational needs should contact the Student Attention Service (Servicio de Atención y Ayudas al Estudiante) in order to receive the appropriate academic support


The final goal of the evaluation system is to verify that the students have acquired the learning outcomes that are expected from the course. Academic performance will be evaluated through a continuous evaluation system that involves a series of written exams (R03, R04, and R05), and the design, development, and presentation of the animal training project (R06). Through the course, attendance and participation to the different programmed activities is also evaluated. In such evaluation students should show that:

a)   They have acquired and understood the knowledge that defines and articulates psychology as a scientific discipline within the study of the processes of conditioning and learning (R03).

b)   They are able to analyze the different theoretical models that apply to learning and conditioning, its fundaments, differences, and limitations (R05).

c)    They have learned to emit grounded judgments about social, scientific, or ethical problems (R04) related to learning and conditioning

d)   They know how to apply the knowledge acquired during large group activities to resolution of a real problem, such as animal training (R06).

Evaluation in January (Convocatoria Ordinaria I):

Grade obtained in each evaluable aspect of the course will be calculated using the following formulae:

A) Participation and active involvement of the student in the class (10%) :

Involvement grade (IG) will be evaluated through attendance recordings and performance of programmed activities.

B) Class contents (70%) : They will be evaluated through an interim and a final tests:

1) Interim test: In the middle of semester, an interim test will be conducted in which students's understanding of the course contents will be evaluated. Good performance needs of regular attendance to the class and continuous work throughout the semester. At the end of the semester each student will count with a mark (CE) get in the interim test. Passing the interim exam does not relieve students from having to take the final exam.

Final exam: Students will have to take a test of all the contents of the course (excluding the activities) at the end of the semester, obtaining the final exam grade (FG).

The grade (GT) in this part of the course will be, GT = CE+FG/2.

C. Performance on programmed activities. (20%): Performance in animal or virtual training will be evaluated either through the presentation of the work (pet) or through one or several tests exam (Sniffy), establishing the Activities Grade (AG).

At the end of the semester, the student will count with two total grades (TG)

a) TG = [(IG*1) + (GT*7) + (AG*2)] / 10

b) TG = [(IG*1) + (FG*7) + (AG*2)] / 10

The grade obtained by the student in the course will be the biggest one of the grades above. In other words, the one that favors him/her more. Please note that in the formulae, the only change is how the grade of the contents (GT or FG) of the course is calculated. The use of these two formulae guaranties that both, the student that performs well in continuous evaluation (half of GT) and the student that performs well in the final exam (FG) will be able to pass the course.

For each official exam students may use up to 5 receipts of their participation on research conducted within the Psychology Department. Each receipt will involve an increase of 0.1 points in the final grade (TG).

Extraordinary evaluations (July and October)

1) For those students that decide to take the final exam in June-July (convocatoria extraordinaria II), IG and AG grades will be the ones obtained in the current year; for those taking the final exam in September-October (Convocatoria extraordinaria I) the grades obtained in the previous year will be used.

2) With the above exception, the grades obtained will be valid only during the year in course.

3) In those cases in which the student does not have IG and/or AG grades, and wish to opt to the maximum grade in the extraordinary evaluations he/she should take the following:

    1. S/he should send a written request to the lecturer to perform the evaluation tests corresponding to IG, AG or both, 15 days before the date of the celebration of the extraordinary exam.
    2. S/he will have to perform the activities selected by the lecturer. The tests will be of equivalent difficulty to the tests performed by the students during the regular classes.

  • The essentials of conditioning and learning. Edition: 2nd ed. Author: Domjan, Michael. Publisher: Australia [etc.]: Wadsworth, cop. 2000  (Library)
  • Animal learning and conditioning. Edition: -. Author: Davey, Graham. Publisher: Baltimore: Macmillan, 1981  (Library)
  • Learning and behavior. Edition: 5th ed. Author: Mazur, James E.. Publisher: Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, cop. 2002  (Library)
  • ANIMAL Learning and Cognition. Edition: -. Author: -. Publisher: San Diego [etc.]: Academic Press, cop. 1994  (Library)