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Cognitive Learning Theory – How to Use Thinking to Learn

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Let’s face it. Cognitive learning has played a major role in your growth and development since you were a crawling child. Since you are a social creature, you learn new things by forming friendships and interacting with others. You will never stop learning until the day you shed your body.

How your parents and family members raised you plays a huge role in defining who you are and why you behave in a certain way. Today, we are going to discuss the crucial role played by your brain in the learning process. As you’ll see, your brain is responsible for what you learn or fail to learn.

Understanding how your brain operates will help you learn new concepts easily and quickly. Take a moment and remember how teachers used to bombard you with tons of facts and concepts in school. What did they advise you to do to remember all these facts and concepts? Memorize and repeat till you have on your fingertips. Was that the most effective way to learn?

Simply memorizing concepts does not help you understand how to use or apply them in any situation. Remembering information without truly understanding it makes it difficult for you to learn. Remember, how you learn shapes hugely determines who you’ll become. We have to use our brains in the most effective way to learn new things and make use of them.

Defining cognitive learning


The term “cognitive” comes from the word “cognition” which is defined as the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding thought by using our five common senses and experience. Learning is defined as acquiring knowledge through study, experience or teaching.

According to assignment service, the theory of cognitive learning uses these two concepts and shows how these processes work together when processing new information. The new information moves from the sensory input to the cognitive system to generate a response.

The brain plays a huge role in shaping how we learn new things. As we continue to evolve, we are continuously learning new concepts that help us achieve new learning levels. The one thing you should keep in mind is the brain has not advanced in any way.

We have learned how to use it efficiently. The brain guides our daily learning. As human beings, we have learned more concepts and developed our skills which have helped us become intelligent.

Cognitive Approach Vs Behavioral Approach


The behavioral approach seeks to study the external behavior that can be observed and measured in an objective way. The theory is centered around a stimulus and an individual’s approach to the stimulus.
A research conducted by paper writing service found that the majority of behaviorists believe that internal behaviors cannot be analyzed because mental processes cannot be observed and measured in an objective way. In short, it’s impossible to see what is happening inside an individual’s mind thus making it difficult to measure it.

Unlike the behavioral approach, the cognitive approach states that internal mental processes can be studied and measured. This approach is centered around the thought process behind a specified behavior.

Psychologists supporting the cognitive approach believe that you have to understand what is happening in the brain to cause a specified behavior.

In short, the cognitive approach is mainly focused on what is happening in the brain and other mental processes instead of simply observing behavior. Changes in behavior are usually observed when indicating what is happening in a learner’s brain.

The cognitive learning process


As dissertation writing services report, cognitive learning revolves around the mental processes which a learner takes in through the five common senses, interprets and retrieves new information. These mental processes happen between the stimulus and the response.
The learner takes in the stimulus, processes, and acts upon it. These mental processes have a number of elements which include observation, interpretation, attention, organizing, memorizing and forming conclusions.

Cognitive psychologists believe that learners act on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and feelings to understand concepts and facts when interpreting stimuli.

Types of cognitive learning

Now that you know what cognitive learning is, it’s time to explore the different types of cognitive learning. Let’s get started!

  • Implicit learning – This happens when an individual learns something new or develops a skill without realizing it. This can happen when learning a new language or socializing.
  • Explicit learning – Explicit learning is the opposite of implicit learning. It happens when want to learn something new explicitly.
  • Collaborative and cooperative learning – Cooperative learning is a form of learning that happens in a group. Every member of the group contributes to his or her best qualities and skills. Collaborative learning is when an educator provides a fact or concept which helps the group create meaning around the concept.
  • Meaningful learning – This is a form of cognitive learning that makes use of motivational, emotional and cognitive dimensions.
  • Associative learning – Associated learning involves creating an association between a selected stimulus and specified behavior
  • Non-associative learning – This is a primitive form of learning that enables human beings to adapt. In most cases, it revolves around something that we have to do in our daily lives. A great example of non-associative learning is people who live near a busy road. When they first move in, they are usually aware of the vehicles and motorcycles that pass on the road. As time goes by, they become desensitized to the noise and it stops bothering them.
  • Discovery learning – Discovery learning happens when you go out and actively look for knowledge. Researchers and explorers have been known to use this cognitive learning method.
  • Observation learning – Also known as imitational learning, this learning method revolves around modeling our behavior after observing something or someone else.
  • Emotional learning – This is a type of learning is centered around developing an individual’s emotional intelligence which is used to control and manage emotions.
  • Experiential learning – This is a type of cognitive learning that revolves around our experiences. It is usually subjective since everyone experiences situations and events differently.
  • Rote learning – Rote learning is a form of cognitive learning which is centered around memorizing information without taking time to understand it on a deeper level.
  • Receptive learning – This is a passive type of learning where learners get information regarding a specific subject that they want to learn. A good example is a lecture where students learn passively as the professor lectures them.
  • Metacognitive learning – Metacognition is defined as thinking about a certain thought. This type of learning revolves around deciding on a conscious level which learning strategy you are going to use to make learning fun and engaging.


Cognitive learning theory is all about understanding how the human brain operates when people are learning. The theory focuses on how the brain processes information and how the process of learning happens through internal processing.

It revolves around the idea that people process the information they receive mentally instead of responding to stimuli from the outer environment.

As you have noticed, the cognitive approach differs from the behavioral approach in that the behavioral approach revolves around studying behavior that can be observed and measured.
Behavioral psychologists believe that internal processes cannot be studied hence cannot be measured and analyzed. On the other hand, cognitive psychologists believe that internal processes can be measured and analyzed.

The most important thing about the cognitive approach is learners can make use of what they’ve learned in their lives, unlike other learning methods which are based on repetition and memorization.
We have also discussed a number of cognitive learning types that can help you understand facts and concepts and make use of them.

You have to keep in mind that everyone is different and different types of learning styles are essential to help everyone reach their potential.

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