International Edu News: Frailty, old age and comorbidity main predictors of death from Covid-19  |  Policy Indications: Cyber centre to reduce digital harm  |  Policy Indications: New funding to improve water security for 10 million people in Africa and Asia  |  International Edu News: UCL hosts global conference on UN Sustainable Development Goals  |  International Edu News: Medium-term impact of COVID-19 revealed in new study  |  International Edu News: Extremely rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19  |  Teacher Insights: Cambridge University Press to join with Cambridge Assessment  |  National Edu News: Minister inaugurates new Diamond Jubilee Lecture Hall Complex of NIT Jamshedpur  |  Education Information: CSIR partnered clinical trials website “CUReD” on Repurposed Drugs for Covid- 19  |  Teacher Insights: The 6th India International Science Festival to be held in Virtual format  |  National Edu News: Minister virtually inaugurates golden jubilee building at NIT Tiruchirappalli  |  Policy Indications: 'NEP 2020 gives importance to Learning through Experience & Living'  |  Education Information: Union Education Minister inaugurates Golden Jubilee Building at NIT Rourkela  |  National Edu News: Union Education Minister virtually attends 8th Convocation of IIT Indore  |  National Edu News: PM addresses the Centenary Convocation of the University of Mysore   |  
August 20, 2018 Monday 04:05:46 PM IST

Learning strategies of songbirds inspires Swiss education system

Teacher Insights

Children learn quite a lot of things in early stages of their life. However, will their ability to apply what they have learned to new situations of life can depend on how they learned it? If we have to believe that what is observed in songbirds could be similarly applied to children, it will be the case!

Researchers from ETH and the University of Zurich have analyzed the way zebra finches (a kind of songbirds) learn singing skills and found that can learn either by observing fellow members of their species or by trial and error.

"These results indicate that in zebra finches, learning by trial and error is the more robust method," summarizes Hahnloser, a member of the research team. "Birds that learned a perceptual skill through trial and error were better able to generalize and adapt that skill to new situations than those that learned it through observation."

Still, "both methods have their advantages," Hahnloser says, "but learning through observation is faster." According to him, this justifies why in the Swiss education system both these learning methods: lectures and observation on the one hand, and experiments, exercises and homework on the other, are properly incorporated.


Although the act of observation involves many synapses between neurons in a finch brain, these are relatively weak. In contrast, trial-and-error learning involves a smaller number of synapses, but they are much stronger, leading to an enhanced ability to generalize. "When observing, the birds may focus on a large number of song details, many of which are irrelevant for solving the problem at hand. In the trial-and-error case, they remember fewer details but focus on the most prominent aspects of the song, such as its duration," explains Hahnloser.

Comments