Cognitive Learning Theory
Cognitive theorists lay more stress on the significance of perception, problem-solving and intuition rather than believing that learning acts as the bridge between stimulus and response. This view truly points out that learning is not only an outcome of trial and error or practice, but it is also the exploration of meaningful patterns which enables the learner to find out a solution to the problem.
Cognitive learning usually includes learning facts, notions, viewpoints, and information that enhance our ability for reasoning, solve problems and learning relationships. It avoids direct experience or reinforcement. Thus, cognitive leaming has a wide scope, i.e., it can vary from simple information procurement to more complicated and imaginative problem-solving.
Figure elaborates some conclusions of cognitive learning:
Figure: Cognitive Learning Theory
Step 1: This view states that generally people learn from their experiences and use previous learning as the foundation for their existing behaviour. These experiences are a symbol of knowledge or understanding.
For example, an employee facing a dilemma in choosing his project will rely on experience while taking the decision.
Step 2: People are generally inclined towards choosing the right behaviour. The employee has a notion that he has two options to select from and he chooses the more suitable one for attaining knowledge.
Step 3: People are generally well aware of the result of their choices. Thus, when the employee gets the preferred project which is both rewarding and fulfils the criteria of his satisfaction, he or she concludes that the choice was a wise one. He would also understand the reason behind it.
Step 4: People analyse those results and connect them with their previous knowledge. This becomes a guide for their future endeavours. In the times to come, if the same type of project arises again, the employee will have a preference for the same.
Social Learning Theory
The social leaming theory is a social behavioural approach that lays stress on the correlative synergy between intellectual, behavioural and conditional factors of human behaviour, social learning theory which is also known as observational learning usually happens when an observer moulds his behaviour after observing or attentively examining the model’s behaviour.
The behaviour of an observer is greatly influenced by the positive or negative results known as vicarious reinforcement or vicarious punishment, which are part of the model’s behaviour. People acquire knowledge either through observation or by directly experiencing it.
A person acquires knowledge mostly by keenly observing the behaviour of models whom he admires, from counsellors who advise them, colleagues ist the workplace, theatre and television actors, superiors who supervise his actions, etc.
This theory is an extended form of operant conditioning, ie, it has a presumption that behaviour is the result of consequences. It also recognises the presence of knowledge through observation of others’ behaviour and the significance of perception that forms a part of the leaming process. Two important social learning theories are modelling theory and social cognition theory.
The social learning theory formulated by Bandura lays great stress on the observation and modelling of the behaviours, attitudes, and emotional outbursts of others. Modelling is the process in which the behaviour of others is copied. Sometimes, there is a change in the behaviour of workers like the worker may copy a distinct style of a model, or he may copy the behaviour of an observed individual.
For example, a young executive might imitate dressing like his CEO or a junior might like to smoke or drink in the same manner as his superior or manager does. If positive results are originating from observation, the observer would opt for it. Generally, people who are energetic and successful become role models for others.
As stated by Bandura, learning would be time-consuming and full of risks, if people depend only on the impact of their activities to decide their future course of action. But luckily, human behaviour is mostly learned by observing others’ behaviour. An individual gets a notion about the new behaviour to be performed through observation, and this concealed information ultimately results in subsequent actions.
There are four processes, through which a model influences an individual. These are as follows:
1) Attention Process: People can learn from models only when they precisely pay attention to the model’s traits. People are greatly influenced by models possessing charming and pleasing personalities, who are socially and readily available and have the desired characteristics.
2) Retention Process: A model’s influence can be judged by analysing how much an individual remembers about the model in their absence.
3) Motor Reproduction Process: When a person observes a model and notices a new pattern of behaviour, then the person should practically implement it. This process of implementing the observed behaviour shows that the person can perform the activities learned from the model.
4) Reinforcement Process: If there is a provision to provide positive perks or rewards, people will willingly exhibit the acquired behaviour. This means that if acquired behaviour is supported affirmatively, the learner would perform it regularly.
Social Cognition Theory
Vygotsky developed the social cognition learning model. This model emphasises that the foundation of individual growth originates from culture. Vygotsky assumed that children’s thinking is primarily influenced by their knowledge about social community (which is learned either by professional or psychological mechanisms).
Vygotsky advocated the use of language for accumulating this knowledge. People can teach the child about the culture using language only. So, language is an essential medium for gaining cultural knowledge.
Culture contributes in two ways to the psychological progression of a child:
1) Culture helps children to acquire knowledge.
2) The existing culture equips children with the tools of thinking. Vygotskian named these tools intellectual adaptation.
The social cognition learning model states that culture inculcates both ways of introspection in children, i.e., what to introspect and how to introspect. Children are more prone to learning through communication. Therefore, educational timetables should be designed in such a way that emphasis should be laid upon the synergy between the learners and the tasks which are to be learned.
A child quite often undergoes a situation in which he is unable to perform tasks on his own, but if an adult assists him in his endeavours, the tasks are performed effectively. Keeping this in mind, the process of scaffolding is applied in teaching.
Scaffolding means a range of instructional techniques which are used to direct the child gradually towards effective understanding and, ultimately, better independence in the learning process. It not only helps in delivering instant outcomes but also inculcates the children with the required skills for solving problems independently.