Difference between Learning and Memory

Many students believe that they are learning if they are memorizing the information provided to them. Learning actually involves much more than simple memory.


Learning vs Memory

Learning is the process or behavior of acquiring knowledge. It is not simply the acquiring and storage of information, but the ability to implement the information and make use of it in practical circumstances.

Memory is the process of recording, storing and retrieving information. Short term memory is information that allows for simple information to be stored and retrieved quickly, but not kept for a long time. Long term memory is the acquiring of information that needs to be remembered over time, although it sometimes may need to be revisited to “refresh” the memory. Long term memory is used in the process of learning.

Comparison chart

Learning Memory
Occurs slowly Occurs quickly
Long term retention Short or long term retention
Utilized in practical applications Expressed or “regurgitated”

Learning vs Memory

What is the difference between learning and memory? Let’s compare them by the speed of occurrence and function.

  • Learning occurs slowly over time by reinforcing concepts and forcing them into long term memory. Simple memorization occurs quickly but is lost over time.
  • Learning is the acquiring of information that can be used in a variety of situations. Memory is the acquiring of information that can be expressed later if retained in long term memory.