It is widely believed that as you become an adult, you get dull. Your personality stops to shine and the brain stops accepting new ideas the way it used to when you were a teen.
That is not true at all. You can continue to polish your skillset as you grow. The ability to learn never fades as long as you use the right techniques.
Cognitive learning is one such technique that continues to help your brain grow so that you don’t ever have to stop gaining knowledge!
Table of Contents
What is Cognitive Learning?
Cognitive learning is a method in which your brain creates connections in order to understand the knowledge at hand.
Basically, when your brain interacts with something that is new, it is almost impossible to comprehend it. So, if you were to be introduced to a foreign language on its own, none of the information will ever make sense in your mind.
With the cognitive approach, your brain will connect the new information with what is already known. To do so, you may use visuals, audios, writing or any other method that works the best for you.
In the example of a foreign language, with this approach, your brain will link the new words to prior knowledge. If you’re learning to write a specific word, you can create a link between its meanings with a visual that will help you remember how to write it correctly.
Similarly, the brain might not be able to remember the right pronunciation unless the word is related to a similar sound which the person is already familiar with.
Cognitive learning is the name of a constructive approach that leads to long-term learning. It is a very hands-on and active technique. The brain is forced to be a part of the entire learning process in a productive way. This neither tires the mind nor confuses it.
This method strongly emphasizes on prior knowledge. New knowledge is learned on the basis of old concepts. Not only does this allow the new information to find a permanent spot in the brain, but it also further solidifies the previous concepts.
The 3 Main Ingredients of Cognitive Learning
In the cognitive learning approach, you implement three major factors of the cognitive process:
You use your memory to recall familiar information, comprehend the new knowledge, and then apply the data retrieved from both these processes to create new connections.
So, the use of memory is limited to recollection and there is no cramming involved. As for comprehension, your brain figures out the entire trail of knowledge for a solid learning base. Lastly, the application is useful for problem-solving as well as for reflection. You can build onto the knowledge to learn more than what it stated.
All in all, the cognitive learning approach puts the brain to work in a healthy way. It makes sure that the learner actually retracts information from the presented knowledge instead of simply forcing it inside the brain.
This is why it is an effective approach even for elders. They have years of experience and so, their brain is full of relevant examples. This means that they are capable of learning anything in the world as long the approach is used correctly.
The Benefits of Cognitive Learning
Now we know exactly how cognitive learning works. Why should you bother to implement this technique in your life? There are tons of other options that allow you to learn new things effectively too. So, why bother with cognitive learning?
Knowledge Becomes Applicable
Here’s the thing:
The learning process goes beyond the few hours of absorbing new ideas. You may consider an approach successful if it puts the required data in your mind. But, that is useless unless you can extract practical knowledge from this newly learned information.
Let’s take the example of a training workshop where you’re learning tactics to deal with unsatisfied customers. The workshop is superb. You’re given a long list of tips to implement. However, that list is useless unless you can actually use it in real-life situations.
A customer is standing in front of your desk screaming at you. You are in full panic mode and your brain is struggling to figure out a way to solve the problem. There is a clear image of the exact list that was taught to you. But you don’t know what information to extract from this list and how to implement it.
Had you used the cognitive learning approach, your brain wouldn’t have to cram the list of tactics. Instead, there would have been a clear understanding of how each tactic applies to the real world. You would have a solid connection with the given information.
A real-life scenario that demands the implementation of the knowledge would instantly trigger your brain, the links in your brain will light up the necessary portion of information and you won’t get in trouble.
“How all of this can happen?” You may ask.
Cognitive learning is a method that affects more than just the process of the entry of information in your brain. It unconsciously affects other parts of the brain too.
These parts work on the boost of confidence of the individual. At the back of the mind, the learner is self-assured that whatever has been learned is done in a fool-proof way. This boost of confidence further aids the process of quicker learning and successful application of the idea.
A Leverage of Skills
Cognitive learning helps develop more skills than what the learner is aiming for. You could be learning a new language with this approach but simultaneously, your problem-solving abilities will also be polished. This means that right off the bat, your brain begins to learn how to use the learned knowledge to deal with real-life issues.
On top of that, your brain will automatically develop the skill to understand situations at a deeper level in order to tackle them efficiently.
It is a technique that encourages more learning. You won’t feel frustrated. Instead of wanting to give up, the cognitive approach will make you want to learn even more. What’s better than that, right?
The cycle will continue and you can keep polishing your skillset further throughout your life. Moreover, the knowledge learned with this method is long-term. Not only is prior knowledge strengthened, but the roots of the new information are always laid strong. Whatever new skill or information you learn, it will benefit you forever.
How to Use Cognitive Learning in Everyday Life?
So far, you’ve seen how cognitive learning works and what benefits it has. But the real question is, how to implement this approach in your everyday life?
Here’s the deal:
There are three stages of learning. Cognitive learning is the first one. Once you put this approach in play, the other two steps follow naturally.
Cognitive learning can be done in any one of the following ways:
1. Implicit Learning
There are numerous skills you learn unconsciously. Nobody really taught you to speak but you got the hold of how it’s done. Anything that you learn without an instructor is technically implicit learning. It is focused on unconscious psychological learning.
2. Explicit learning
This is the complete opposite of implicit learning. It is when you make an effort to seek an instructor who can teach you something. Looking for learning opportunities consciously is explicit learning.
3. Collaborative Learning
When you’re learning alongside other novice level learners from the same instructor, it leads to discussions that may not have crossed your mind. Collaborative working is dependent on interactions to a certain level.
4. Co-operative Learning
In case the collaborative learning includes a practical approach along with a set of defined instructions too, that is so-operative learning. It is quite closely related to the collaborative learning method.
5. Meaningful Learning
Cognitive learning focuses on the true understanding of what a piece of information implies. It is based on the total interpretation without rote learning anything at all.
For example, instead of learning the guitar’s chords, if you were to understand why each chord is different, it will be meaningful cognitive learning.
6. Observational Learning
As the name suggests, this is the learning done through observation. You learn what you see. The social environment and interactions play a big role here. Your socializing abilities are a kind of skill that you learn through this method.
Here’s how to do it: How to Use Observational Learning to Learn Effectively
The Bottom Line
There is no way to practically implement methods like implicit learning. Since it is an unconscious approach, it only works when the mind is not exactly focused on the task at hand. However, you can try out methods such as observational learning or meaningful learning.
Whatever you’re trying to learn, observe it being done practically. Watch game shows, for example, to learn how to play badminton. Or, understand the meaning that makes the knowledge useful instead of just cramming it word to word.
The cognitive learning approach is undoubtedly an excellent method. It is a life-long technique that will never stop working!
More Learning Hacks
- Passive Learning vs Active Learning: Which Is More Effective?
- 12 Powerful Learning Strategies to Help You Retain Info Fast
- The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I?
- 5 Hacks to Speed up the Learning Process
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com