Cognitive Learning Theory


Meaning of Cognitive Learning Theory

Cognitive Learning Theory is a theory that evaluates how human mind responds during the learning process. It describes the influence of internal and external forces on mental process through which learning occurs in an individual. Cognitive learning theory is one that studies how the information is internally processed and interpreted by the human mind that leads to effective learning. This theory states that people mentally process the information receive by them in place of simply responding to environmental stimuli. As per the cognitive learning theory, cognitive learning is the most effective learning style that uses human mind in the most efficient manner. Cognitive refers to the mental process of acquiring knowledge and developing an understanding via senses, thought and experience. This theory merges the two terms- cognitive and learning for describing the numerous process needed for efficient learning. 

History of Cognitive Learning Theory

Cognitive Learning Theory is developed by Jean Piaget, an Educational Psychologist in year 1936. It was formed to describe that learners actively construct knowledge on the basis of their pre-learned knowledge. It evaluates the relationship in between the mental process and various internal and external factors influencing it. The founder focuses on cognitively processing of input by person that results in behaviour. Piaget theory works on human intelligence development and describe the nature of knowledge which enables individuals to utilize it.

Components of Cognitive Learning Theory

Fundamental aspects of Cognitive learning are discussed below: –


Purpose of learning must be clear to learner for making the cognitive learning beneficial and effective. He should be certain about why he wants to learn things that would lead to enhance his comprehension.


It is must that learners should develop a deep understanding of things they learn which would assist them in relating it with their previous knowledge. Cramming of information is not allowed in cognitive learning which tends to make the learning process ineffective.


Cognitive learning teaches the individuals the applicability of new skills and things they learn to their real-life situations. It helps in enhancing the problem-solving skills of individuals.

Benefits of Cognitive learning Theory

Various benefits of Cognitive learning are explained in points given below: 

Improves learning

Theory of Cognitive learning enhances the lifetime learning of individuals. People working in an organization can easily upgrade their existing level of knowledge by applying new concepts and ideas to it.

Boost Confidence

It promotes a sense of confidence and boost the morale of employees as they learn new ideas and concepts. With the better understanding of new topics, employees enhance their skills set which grant them confidence in carrying out their tasks. It develops ability to face all challenges coming in performing task by teaching all new things. 

Enhance problem-solving skills

Cognitive learning theory builds better problem-solving skills within the individual which are very crucial at any stage of leadership. It imparts all required knowledge effectively which is useful in every aspect of their role. This enables workers to easy handle every problem which come on their way while performing their duties.

Enhance comprehension

It enhances the comprehension of learner by developing a deep understanding of new things learned. Under the approach of cognitive learning, workers learn things by doing them practically which leads to immersive learning. Proper understandability of knowledge assists workers in easy applicability of it in their work.

Promotes continuous learning

It is the one which leads to a continuous learning in an individual. It promotes long-term learning by linking the previous knowledge of person with new concepts and ideas. Workers are able to use their old knowledge with new set of information which enhance their overall capabilities of performing their assigned duties.

Principles of Cognitive Learning Theory

Learning should be Purposeful

Learners prior to learning should know clearly why they want to learn something and how they are going to implement it in their life. Process of learning becomes more effective if the learner clearly knows his purpose of learning or acquiring some skills. His purpose should be relatable to the challenges and situations he is facing. 

Learning should be Self-Directed

This principle states that learners are motivated towards learning things when they establish a clear set of targets for themselves. Self-directed mode of learning can be attained by enquiring individuals what they need to learn and what are their expectations from it. Instructor should facilitate the learner by providing various tools to learn according to their needs and pace.

Learning should come from Analysis and Discovery

It states that learning modules should be design in such a way that lead to finding of new information via inquiry. The critical thinking should be stimulated by posting right questions. Learners should be involved in analysis process for finding new set of knowledge. They should be allowed to collaborate with one another where they exchange their ideas with each other leading to better discussion. 

Cognitive Learning Theory Examples

Various examples of cognitive learning are explained below: –

  1. Implicit Learning

Implicit learning is the one which is done passively and without much intention to learn new things by individual. It is an automatic mode of learning in which person is completely unaware of the entire learning process. He realizes about this at some later point of time when he retained new skills. Implicit learning occurs may when you are walking, eating, talking and doing others course in your normal life.

  Acquiring a good typing speed or typing without seeing a keyboard is a good example of implicit learning which you automatically learn through practice over a period of time.

  1. Explicit Learning

It is a learning which is done intentionally by individual who seeks to learn new skills deliberately. Explicit learning requires great attention by individual for learning skills that are vital for his work. Explicit learning is an attempt to become proficient at your work by acquiring new skills. Individuals need to fully focused and take required actions for making a learning process an effective one.

Enrolling yourself in excel course for learning Ms- Excel is a good example of Explicit learning.

  1. Discovery Learning

Discovery learning is one in which individual learns by conducting a research of new concepts and process. Learners are active in seeking information and perform a deep analysis of subjects for adapting new information or skills. 

  When you are assigned to use a particular app in your company, then while using it you may discover new features of that app while using it. 

  1. Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is the one where you learn as a group or a team at your work place. It deepens the collaboration among team member and enhances the skills of each member in a team. It is a strategy under which a resource person teaches the team members about specific skills and impart them knowledge of their area. These trained individuals are then motivated to share their knowledge with other members in their group. 

  1. Meaningful Learning

Meaning learning takes place when an individual has an ability of relating its newly learned skills with his past information. This learning approach enhances the problem-solving skills in an individual by deepening his set of knowledge. 

An example of meaningful learning is enrolling yourself for an advanced management course while you have knowledge of pre-leadership training.

  1. Receptive Learning

Receptive learning is where you sit in a class and a person delivers lectures on particular subject standing in front of all. Learners actively poses questions from their trainer for developing better understanding and take down all notes properly. It requires an active participation of speaker by clearing all queries of participants to make overall process of learning efficient.

Organization inviting experts for training their employees in workshop or classroom by delivering lectures is an example of Receptive learning.