Learning is a fundamental aspect of human life, and cognitive psychology is the branch of psychology that studies the processes involved in learning. Cognitive psychologists study how people acquire, process, and retain information.
What is Cognitive Psychology?
Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, language, problem-solving, and thinking. It focuses on how humans acquire knowledge and how they use it to understand and interact with the world around them.
How Does Cognitive Psychology Explain Learning?
Cognitive psychology explains learning as an active process that involves the acquisition of new knowledge and skills through experience. According to cognitive psychologists, learning occurs when new information is acquired or existing knowledge is modified through experience.
The Three Key Components of Learning
Cognitive psychologists propose that there are three key components of learning:
- Attention: The first step in learning is paying attention to the information presented. Attention enables us to focus on specific stimuli while ignoring irrelevant ones.
- Encoding: Encoding refers to the process by which incoming information is transformed into a form that can be stored in memory. This may involve breaking down complex information into smaller parts or relating new information to existing knowledge.
- Retrieval: Retrieval refers to the process of accessing stored information from memory when needed.
The Two Types of Learning
Cognitive psychologists differentiate between two types of learning:
- Associative Learning: Associative learning involves forming associations between stimuli. This type of learning can be further divided into two categories: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
- Cognitive Learning: Cognitive learning involves acquiring knowledge about concepts or procedures through observation or problem-solving.
Classical conditioning is a type of associative learning discovered by Ivan Pavlov. It involves pairing a neutral stimulus (such as a bell) with an unconditioned stimulus (such as food) to elicit a conditioned response (such as salivation). Over time, the neutral stimulus becomes associated with the unconditioned stimulus and can elicit the conditioned response on its own.
Operant conditioning is another type of associative learning discovered by B.F. Skinner. It involves using rewards and punishments to shape behavior. Behaviors that are followed by rewards are more likely to be repeated, while behaviors that are followed by punishments are less likely to be repeated.
Cognitive learning involves acquiring knowledge through observation or problem-solving. This type of learning is more complex than associative learning because it involves higher-order cognitive processes such as attention, memory, and problem-solving.
Observational learning involves acquiring knowledge by observing others’ behavior and their consequences. This type of learning is also known as social learning or modeling. For example, a child may learn how to tie their shoes by watching their parent do it.
Problem-solving involves using existing knowledge and skills to solve new problems or challenges. This type of learning requires higher-level thinking skills such as reasoning, planning, and decision-making.
The Importance of Feedback in Learning
Feedback is essential for effective learning because it provides information about how well we are performing and what we need to do to improve. Feedback can come from various sources such as teachers, peers, or self-evaluation.
Cognitive psychology explains how humans learn through experience and interaction with the environment. Learning is an active process that involves attention, encoding, and retrieval.
There are two types of learning: associative learning and cognitive learning. Associative learning involves forming associations between stimuli, while cognitive learning involves acquiring knowledge through observation or problem-solving. Effective learning requires feedback to help us understand how well we are performing and what we need to do to improve.