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Cognitive Learning Theory


Cognitive Learning Theory

This is based on the study of the neural mechanics of how the brain gains knowledge and understanding. So it is deeply embedded in educational psychology and can be used to optimise the learning experience of a student. It can also be used as a tool to explore the nature and cause of any deficits that a student is displaying in a behaviourist sense.

The fundamental element to any cognitive learning theory is the Information Processing Model used. These vary and any model of the brain is an approximation of a more complex reality, but a classic three component model looks like this:

Sensory Memory –feeds into– Short-term Memory –interacts with– Long term Memory

To take learning to drive as an example, in the early days of driving you are receiving a flow of instructions through your sensory memory on what to do. You are also receiving sensory information from your eyes, ears, contact with your seat and your balance system. All these feed into a short-term memory experience, some of which lodges in long-term memory. As you repeatedly go through the learning to drive experience, your long-term memory stores ever greater amounts of information on what works and doesn’t work when driving a car. Your amygdala is also drawn into this because when you do scary things in your car your emotions are raised and the memory is more sharply recorded than when everything is rolling along smoothly.

While you could potentially be taught everything you need to know about learning to drive a car while sat in a classroom, nobody would try to teach it that way, because from a cognitive learning theory perspective, all the sensory experiences of actually driving are a far more efficient way to learn.

You can also see how channelled learning can become, when a countryside dweller drives you into the city. Despite many years of experience behind a wheel, the driver is in an unfamiliar environment, despite all the same rules of the road, and can struggle to deal with it. This is an example of the very practical nature of learning, as predicted by cognitive learning theory.

Created by David Morgan on Saturday, 23 Mar 2013, 06:37.

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