Cognition and Learning
Cognition and learning are often thought of as the same, however, they are different. Learning is just one aspect of cognition. There are also other aspects including perceiving, thinking, reasoning, remembering, judging, and understanding.
Connection between Cognition and Learning
Learning is a process whereby knowledge is created and results in a change in a mental representations or associations due to an experience. After an experience, you may perceive or understand something in a new way, or you may behave in a new way because of the knowledge you gained. However, in order to learn, you need to perceive, acquire, and process the new information. Thus, you need cognition.
Cognition is the mental steps you use to acquire, process, and understand information. It involves absorbing information, processing it, and then applying it to the appropriate situations. Whenever you see, hear, or experience something new, you go through a series of cognitive processes, which results in learning. Learning comes at the end of a series of cognitive processes. You experience, you process, you learn. Hence, learning is a result of cognition. You mentally process information, and you generate new knowledge as a result of the processing.
Learning also feeds cognition. Cognitive processes are essential to applying the learned information to previously learned skills, as well as to future situations.
After you have gained knowledge, you may have additional experiences and cognitive processes to enhance or continue the learning. Thus, learning becomes a cycle with cognition and experience.
Once this new information is learned, cognition comes into play by helping you apply the information to future situations.
Cognition is the mental steps you use to acquire, process, and understand information through senses, thoughts, and experiences in order to create knowledge. Cognition can be thought of as mental processing.
Cognition is comprised of both conscious and unconscious processes. It encompasses different mental activities such as learning, attention, memory, language, reasoning, judging, and decision making.
Cognitive processes cover a wide array of mental activities including:
- Abstract processing
- Problem solving
- Decision making
Each of these cognitive functions work together to integrate the new knowledge. Also through cognition, existing knowledge can be used to create new knowledge and to generate new ideas and concepts.
Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created. It may occur consciously as part of formal education, training, study, or experience. However, learning may also occur without conscious awareness through personal experience. For example, you may learn where a specific store is located, the score of a soccer game, or the price of a gallon of milk.
Learning is the cognitive process that we use to incorporate new information into our prior knowledge in order to create new knowledge. Learning can be thought of as the process of information entering your cognitive system and changing it. However, there is much information that you will process through your experiences and interactions, but from which you will not learn. This is because the mental processing does not change your mental representations and associations.
Domains of Learning
As humans, we are lifelong learners. We begin learning at birth and continue learning all throughout our lives. As we have new experiences, we continue to assimilate new information into what we already know.
Learning, however, is not just a cognitive (thinking) function. We can also learn attitudes, behaviors, and physical skills. These different categories create three domains of learning. These three domains of learning can be categorized as cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills) and affective (attitudes).
Learning can be categorized into the domains.
- Cognitive Domain (thinking)
- Affective Domain (feeling)
- Psychomotor Domain (doing)
Bloom’s Domains of Learning
In the 1950’s, Educational Psychologist Benjamin Bloom divided what and how we learn into these three separate domains of learning. Bloom developed classifications of behavior and learning in order to identify and measure the levels of learning.
Cognitive Domain: mental skills (knowledge)
Affective Domain: growth in feelings or emotional areas (attitude)
Psychomotor Domain: manual or physical skills (skills)
Each domain has a taxonomy associated with it. Taxonomy simply means a classification. All of the taxonomies are arranged so that they proceed from the simplest to more complex levels. For example, the cognitive domain would start with the simple task of “remembering” and work towards more complex tasks of thinking such as “evaluation.”
There are other variations on the theme which summaries the three domains:
- Think-Feel- Do
The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts and concepts that serve developing intellectual abilities and skills.
There are six major categories of cognitive a processes, starting from the simplest to the most complex
The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first ones are the lower level ones, and must normally be mastered before the next one can take place. The higher the level ones require more complex mental operation.
The original Taxonomy has been changed over the years. The most notable change is the terms used to describe the levels. The revised version changes the names of each of the six levels. The levels have also change from nouns to verbs. The new version is as follows:
The affective domain involves our feelings, emotions, and attitudes. This domain includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes. This domain is categorized into 5 subdomains, which include:
This domain forms a hierarchical structure and is arranged from simpler feelings to those that are more complex. With movement to more complexity, you become more involved, committed, and internally motivated.
The psychomotor domain refers to the use of basic motor skills, coordination, and physical movement. Development of these skills requires practice and is measured in terms of speed, precision, distance, procedures, or techniques in execution.
The psychomotor domain is comprised of utilizing motor skills and coordinating them. There are three different Taxonomy for Psychomotor Domain:
- Reflex movements
- Fundamental Movements
- Perceptual abilities
- Physical Abilities
- Skilled movements
- Non-discursive communication
- Guided Response
- Complex Overt Response
Kolb Learning Styles
Kolb’s Model of Learning Preferences
While the VAK learning style categories focus only on the external aspects of learning (auditory, visual, kinesthetic), Kolb’s learning styles include perception and processing.
According to Kolb, learners perceive and process information in a continuum from concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.
Kolb’s learning theory sets out four distinct learning styles, which are based on a four-stage learning cycle. Learning styles can be viewed on a continuum across two dimensions, based on how people perceive information (concrete vs. abstract) and process information (active vs. reflective).
Kolb believes that as we learn something we go through a learning cycle. That cycle begins with a concrete situation which we experience. He believes we then reflect on this experience and what it means. After we reflect on the experience, we then begin to understand what is to be learned from the experience. He suggests we then attempt to apply what we learned by creating an experiment.
Kolb Learning Styles or Preferences
Although Kolb thought of the learning process as a continuum or cycle that one moves through over time, he believes people come to prefer one element or style above the others.
The four learners styles or preferences are:
Concrete experience: being involved in a new experience
Reflective observation: watching others or developing observations about one’s own experience
Abstract conceptualization: creating theories to explain observations
Active experimentation: using theories to solve problems and make decisions
The Kolb Learning Styles Inventory plots the degree to which the subject engages in concrete experience, active experimentation, abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. The four resultant learning-style types from the Kolb instrument are diverging, assimilating, converging and accommodating.
Additional Learning Style Theories
Educational Learning Group
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|Personal Effectiveness||This section is part of our Skill Builder collection which is designed to provide knowledge and insight into key skills that can directly and indirectly affect performance. This series is designed to help individuals learn the practical, straightforward skills and strategies needed to excel in all areas of their life. It focuses on those skills that can be easily integrated into a person’s daily life; so much so that it improves their overall effectiveness in getting various types tasks and activities completed efficiently and successfully. Personal effectiveness includes such skill as goal setting, time management, stress management, change management, problem solving, and decision making.
|Mental Conditioning||This section involves building our mental attitude and mental strength. It encompasses a wide breadth of factors that affect an individual’s mind set. The mental conditioning aspect focuses on our thoughts and beliefs in order to enhance our mental strength. This section is designed to help individuals attain the mental strength necessary to bypass obstacles in route to achieving their goals. This section concentrates on building self esteem, self confidence and mental toughness as well as reducing stress and anxiety.
|Thinking||This section focuses on both critical thinking and creative thinking. This section is designed to help develop an individual’s higher order critical thinking skills including analysis, synthesis, problem solving, and evaluation. It also delves into includes strategies and techniques to enhance creative thinking.
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