How do I learn theories

Cognitive learning

This guide will give you a clear understanding of how cognitive learning can positively impact your life in a corporate setting.

As one grows up, one becomes an active participant in various processes through which one acquires new knowledge and skills. The training of cognitive learning for employees in organizations expands and strengthens their competence in dealing with more complex tasks.


Employers need to expose their employees to cognitive learning training - an organization whose employees have strong cognitive skills is likely to succeed.

Well-trained and fully committed employees are able to learn quickly and be highly productive by handling multiple complex tasks without the need for a supervisor.

What is cognitive learning?

Cognitive learning is an active learning style that focuses on helping you learn how to maximize your brain's potential. It makes it easier for you to combine new information with existing ideas and thus deepen your memory and retention.

The ability of the brain's mental processes to absorb and store information through experiences, senses, and thoughts is known as cognition.

There is a young branch of psychology known as cognitive psychology. It is about the study of the inner processes of the human being. These are the things that go on in your brain such as thinking, paying attention, learning, problem solving, perception, and others.

Components of cognitive learning

Traditional learning mainly focuses on memorization rather than trying to achieve mastery of a particular subject.

Basic aspects of cognitive learning are described below:

1. Understanding

For cognitive learning to be effective and beneficial to you, you need to understand the reason why you are studying a particular subject in the first place.

2. memory

Cognitive learning discourages information cramming, which is very ineffective in education. A deep understanding of a topic improves your ability to relate new knowledge to previous experience or information.

3. Application

Cognitive learning strategies help you apply new information or skills in life situations. They encourage you as you develop your problem-solving skills.

Cognitive learning theories

Cognitive learning theory

Cognitive learning theory explains how internal and external factors influence an individual's mental processes to complement learning.

Delays and difficulties in learning occur when cognitive processes do not function regularly. These processes are e.g. attention, observation, retrieval from long-term memory and categorization.

Several researchers have made significant contributions to this theory. Jerome Bruner focused on how mental processes are related to teaching.

Another researcher named Jean Piaget realized that the environment played a big role and also focused on changes taking place in the internal cognitive structure. You can read more about Piaget's theory of cognitive development in our previous article on collaborative learning.

Today the theory of cognitive learning dominates in psychology. It is divided into two categories.

Social cognitive theory

This theory helps us understand how people are affected and what impact they have on the environment.

One of the most important components of social cognitive theory is learning by observation. It is the process of learning the desirable and undesirable behaviors of others through observation.

It's a quick way to get information by acting individually. A person showing behavior for another person is called a model.

These can be real people such as teachers, peers and superiors, or symbolic models, also called fictional characters, that influence the behavior of an observer.

Observational learning teaches people both positive and negative behaviors. For example, a manager in a company can teach employees how to behave ethically and socially when interacting and dealing with rude customers. In addition, the manager can also train his employees in the various procedures that they can use with a low probability in the event of a fire or other hazard scenarios.

Cognitive behavior theory

This theory mainly relates to our mental processes, such as our thoughts and interpretations of life events.

It explains how a person's thoughts, feelings, and behavior interact with each other. Thoughts lead to certain emotions, which in turn lead to certain behavioral reactions.

When we change our thoughts, we can change our emotions and then our behaviors. It also works the other way around, when the change in our behavior leads to changes in our feelings and ultimately in our thoughts as well.

Take the example of a developer who encounters a problem in a certain sphere and automatically believes that the task is difficult for him right away. The employee is automatically likely to have a negative attitude towards this particular task and is likely to perform poorly.

Benefits of cognitive learning

The following are the main positive effects of cognitive learning:

1. Improves learning

Cognitive learning theory promotes lifelong learning. Workers can build on previous ideas and apply new concepts to existing knowledge.

2. Boosts self-confidence

Employees become more confident in tackling tasks as they gain a deeper understanding of new topics and learn new skills.

3. Improves understanding

Cognitive learning improves the learner's understanding of the acquisition of new information. You can develop a deeper understanding of new learning materials.

4. Improves problem solving skills

Cognitive learning equips employees with the skills they need to learn effectively. This enables them to develop problem-solving skills that they can apply to challenging tasks.

5. Helps you learn new things faster

Through the learning experience, the employee will be able to recycle and apply the same learning methods that previously worked. This will help them learn new things much faster as they already know what will work for them when it comes to gaining new knowledge.

6. Teaches how to create concepts (think abstractly)

Cognitive learning can also teach your employees to form a number of different concepts, such as easily perceiving and interpreting information that could stimulate creativity and lead to innovation in the workplace.

Cognitive learning strategies

Several psychologists have shaped the concept of cognitive learning through research. You have developed theories and learning strategies that can be implemented in a corporate learning environment.

Learner-centered strategy

Jean Piaget described learning as combining information with existing knowledge. And each learner starts with their own knowledge and experiences.

According to his theories, learning begins with the accumulation of some basic knowledge and deepens over time.

Piaget suggested three main components of learning:

  • Housing - taking new information into account by modifying what we already know.
  • Assimilation - the arrangement of new knowledge in our minds next to what we know.
  • Balancing - the balancing of what we already know with the new information we are trying to acquire.

Every company should develop their training programs with a personalized approach to learning to attract their employees and get better results.

To achieve this, L&D professionals should focus on the following points:

  • Develop and implement your programs based on existing knowledge.
  • Providing more analogies to combine new knowledge with existing knowledge.
  • Graduate study materials and maintain a logical flow of the lessons taught.
  • Provide examples or practical assignments that show how new information or principles can be combined or enhanced with existing knowledge.
  • Encourage questions and comments from trainees.

Sensible experience strategy

David Ausubel made a clear distinction between meaningful learning and memorization.

In his opinion, material that was closely related to what the learner knew made sense and always proved effective.

Learners with relevant background find it easier to add new information.

During the apprenticeship training in an organization:

  • The focus should be on the meaningfulness of each session for the task at hand.
  • Background information on new material is essential.
  • New information should be presented to learners in an order that builds on what is already understood.

Strategy learning through discovery

Jerome Bruner is a psychologist who based his theory on Piaget's theory of cognitive development, which focused on learning through discovery.

His theory identified three levels of cognitive representation that are enactive, iconic, and symbolic. Enaktiv defines the representation of knowledge through actions, where iconic is the visual summary of images and symbolic is the use of words and symbols to describe experiences.

Through his study of cognitive learning in children, he suggested that they should be allowed to discover information for themselves. He believed that learners should review material they have already learned, even as they acquire new knowledge.

His interpretation of the theory of cognitive learning in a corporate setting can be summed up as follows:

  • Enable employees to learn new skills and gain new knowledge through new tasks and challenges.
  • Challenge the trainees to solve real-world problems your organization is facing.

Personalized learning strategy

All of these strategies can be combined into a personalized approach to learning. Each learner is unique and has their own experiences, knowledge and perceptions. This can greatly affect the way they interpret and consume new information.

Creating learning experiences that are appropriate for each individual, based on their own role-related knowledge, that encourages them to discover new solutions, can produce great results and improve their overall performance.

L&D professionals should try to organize a learning environment that allows staff to learn at their own pace and with a variety of learning opportunities.

A common practice for creating personalized learning in recent years is the use of modern technologies: AI recommendations, learning paths, machine learning, natural language processing.

For example, a digital learning assistant has the ability to see what the employees' skills are, what they have learned so far, and automatically suggest what they should learn next. The reason such advanced technology is essential to employee development is that it can provide information that employees need without their even being able to anticipate the need. All in all, it's a fantastic tool that can ensure better employee training and ultimately lead to better performance.

In addition, having a learning assistant can save the company a significant amount of resources as it can make your company's learning environment flawless, even when scalability is required.

In addition, with ultimate access to a range of company resources, no two employees need to study or go through the same learning process as they can choose what they want to learn.

Examples of cognitive learning

Now you have a clear idea of ​​what cognitive learning is. Below are several examples of cognitive learning.

1. Explicit learning

It happens when you are purposely looking for knowledge to try to learn a new skill or process that can be critical to your job. It requires you to be attentive and take action to gain knowledge.

An example of explicit learning would be taking an in-depth video editing course to understand the functionality of the software so that you can use it appropriately for the needs of your job.

2. Implicit learning

Sometimes you passively acquire new knowledge and learn some new skills. It is known as implicit learning, where one is not aware of the whole process until one realizes that one has kept something new. This type of learning can occur while working, speaking, or going about your normal life.

Typing quickly without looking at the keyboard is a good example of implicit learning that comes automatically over time.

3. Meaningful learning

Meaningful learning is when you are able to acquire new information and relate it to previous experiences. Because this cognitive learning approach teaches employees to develop transferable problem-solving skills that can be applied in other areas.

An example of meaningful learning is when you work in procurement and decide to take an advanced course in your department to deepen your understanding of the subject.

4. Exploratory learning

This is what happens when you are actively seeking new knowledge by researching new concepts, processes and topics.

For example, having someone proofread a particular report and having to use a particular tool such as "grammar" by using that tool in conjunction with the manuals would lead to a loss of the characteristics and capabilities of the Learned through discovery.

5. Receptive learning

Lectures where you sit in groups and have a speaker feed the audience with information on a particular topic are an example of receptive learning. It requires the learner to be active by asking questions and taking short notes.

During on-the-job training, this type of learning is very useful when you gain a deeper understanding of new information by being active and responsive to the speaker.

6. Non-associative learning (familiarization and sensitization)

It is a way of learning that enables people to adapt to something by facing it frequently. When you get a new job in a factory where a lot of machines make noise, it irritates in the first few days, but later you learn to live with it. This is known as habituation.

Awareness is the opposite, where your response to something increases if you are exposed to it frequently. This type of learning happens in your typical life and work situations. Working in an office teaches you to be more responsive to things like phone calls.

7. Emotional learning

Developing emotional intelligence is critical to maintaining friendly relationships with friends at work and in life. Emotional learning helps people to learn to get a grip on their emotions and also to understand those of others.

An employer needs to be in control of his emotions so that he can be polite with customers and also with his superiors.

8. Learning through experience

Our life experiences are our best lessons. You will always learn some valuable life lessons from your interactions with other people. What you learn depends on how you interpret it.

For example, an intern learns by accompanying an experienced senior employer to gain experience. He is acquiring new skills that are relevant to his area of ​​work.

9. Learning through observation

One of the essential components of social cognitive theory is learning by observation. It is useful among employees as it mainly involves imitating the skills of colleagues and supervisors.

Watching friends or work colleagues is an efficient way to learn a new skill. Your successful manager at work can help you improve your leadership skills if you adopt and practice their habits.

10. Cooperative and collaborative learning

Working and learning in groups is encouraged in many institutions.

Cooperative learning helps to develop one's best skills and to deepen collaboration between a group of people (read more about collaborative learning).

However, in order for an individual to learn in this way, he / she must be an active and equal participant and interact with other group members.

Some companies select individuals to train them in new strategies that will improve the success of an organization. The trained employees are then encouraged to pass this knowledge on to their team members.

The above types of cognitive learning are critical to getting the most out of your brain's functions. They make it easier for you to acquire new skills and knowledge in life.