Category Archives: Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Information about the IQ test. Different professionals help us understand what IQ is, why these tests do, who to get the results, its relation with the intelligence level, where to find the best tests to test your IQ, etc.

The Big Question: Uncovering the link between ‘general cultural knowledge’ and IQ

We all like to believe that we are smart, or at the very least, have a level of intelligence that is above average. Intelligence is an important part of how we, as a society, value individuals. Intelligence, or the appearance of it, is often a key criterion that schools look for when admitting students; colleges and universities rely on it to give scholarships, grants, and awards; and employers look for signs of intelligence when selecting the best candidate for a job.

The important role that intelligence plays in society means that it is important to understand how we measure ‘intelligence’ and, more importantly, how these measurements can be improved.

IQ as a measure of intelligence

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One of the most basic ways we measure intelligence is by testing an individual’s IQ, or intelligence quotient. This score is typically found by presenting the individual with a series of tests to determine their ‘mental age’, then dividing their mental age by their ‘chronological age’.

This system is designed to determine not only an individual’s critical thinking and reasoning abilities but also to provide a simple way to compare multiple individuals of varying ages and mental abilities.

And while for many practical applications the IQ system provides a reasonable, flexible, and simple solution, it is not without its flaws.

Our understanding of intelligence has evolved

As we learn more about the human brain and cognitive abilities, we are beginning to understand that there are multiple types of intelligence and that intelligence can be affected by things such as culture, education background, and even our environment.

It is often said that IQ scores are great at testing a ‘specific type of intelligence in a specific type of person in a specific type of culture’. Much of the tests, science, and research that underpin the IQ scoring system was developed, implemented, and reviewed by scientists who are predominantly Western, educated, white, and male—an issue that is common throughout many areas of psychology and cognitive science.

The problem arises when we try to test the intelligence of individuals who may not have had the same background. Individuals who were not educated at ‘western’ schools or universities; individuals whose life experience may be so completely different from those who designed the tests that their intelligence cannot be properly understood through traditional IQ tests.

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How can the cultural background and knowledge of these individuals affect their outcomes on intelligence tests?

Exploring the link between knowledge and intelligence

If an IQ test were to ask individuals to name the 50 states in the USA, its results would quite probably be skewed to show that Americans were smarter than the rest of the world. If the test, however, asked questions about how to calculate the score of a Cricket match, those very same Americans might be labeled as ‘underperformers.’

While these are intentionally silly examples, it is easy to see how the general knowledge that an individual has due to their location, culture, and past experience can affect their scores—and, importantly, how important it is to create measures of intelligence which as unbiased, culturally-neutral, and universally relevant.

It was with this in mind that Scientists in Spain have developed a research project known as ‘The Big Question’ (in Spanish, ‘La Gran Pregunta’) to investigate the role that ‘general cultural knowledge’ has on intelligence scores, and how location affected the population’s average scores in cultural knowledge.

 What is ‘The Big Question’?

The Big Question is a research project devised and coordinated by Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, director of the Cognitive Science Center (Centro de Ciencias Cognitivas, or C3, in Spanish)  of  Nebrija University, with participation from teams of researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid and the  Rovira i Virgili University designed to study the variations in the cultural knowledge of the people living in the various Autonomous Communities in Spain.

Thanks to the data collected in the project, the research teams will be able to draw a scientifically sound map of shared knowledge that will serve as a baseline of general culture knowledge in Spain.

The project is presented as a quiz containing general knowledge questions about different categories in which each player tests their level of general cultural knowledge.

There are 37 different categories that address thematic areas such as zoology, astronomy, inventions and discoveries, architecture, or mythology and folklore, among others. The platform is fed by a list of 1,300 questions, and, after completing a short questionnaire on basic sociodemographic data, each player is presented with a random selection of 60 questions each time they enter to play a game.

In the first two weeks that the platform was live, more than 36,000 games were completed, with players from all the autonomous communities. At the moment, the average score on the test at the national level is 60%, with some differences between communities.

Average scores per autonomous community. The Big Question.

Once the data cleansing procedure has been applied, the provisional data show an unequal distribution between territories, even though these differences never exceed 5%.

The average of correct answers per Autonomous Community ranges from 57% to 62%. Above the average we find Galicia, Castile and León, Principality of Asturias, La Rioja, Aragon, Community of Madrid, Basque Country, Cantabria and Valencian Community. The communities that scored below the average were Extremadura, Region of Murcia, Balearic Islands, Autonomous Community of Navarre, Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, Canary Islands, and Catalonia.

The science and questions of the quiz

The history of databases on general culture is still quite recent and more scarce than some might think. In the early 80s, Nelson and Narens found that there was no database that defined which facts were likely to be considered general culture, nor whether there was data more difficult to remember than others.

They themselves compiled a list of 300 questions they obtained from books, atlases, colleagues, friends, and other sources of information they considered relevant. Students from two U.S. universities answered these questions and collected different cognitive and metacognitive measures. Over the following decades, these questions were used in countless research in cognitive science.

However, and as is normal, with the passage of time this compendium of facts and data that were very relevant or important in the 80s were changing. Society advances and changes, and with it cultural knowledge relevant to each historical context.

This led a group of scientists in 2013 to review the original set of questions and see how it had evolved over the past three decades.

They administered the questions with some changes to almost 700 students from different universities and, although there were some changes between the general knowledge demonstrated in both experiments (for example, in 1980 only 7% of the sample knew that Baghdad was the capital of Iraq, and in 2013 this value increased to 47%), the authors concluded that the set was still valid.

More recently, and in order to explore whether the results of the North American tests could be generalized to Spain, a team of Spanish scientists decided to test the knowledge of almost 300 participants from two universities. When they analyzed the consistency in the answers given to the same questions by students from different countries, they found a very high correlation between the two groups, which would indicate great intercultural stability.

However, differences were also found in some aspects of knowledge between Americans and Spaniards (for example, 97% of the Spanish sample knew that Venice is the name of the Italian city best known for its canals, compared to 46% of the North American sample).

All these studies, and similar ones in various countries, have involved a very limited number of questions. In addition, these studies have generally focused on the university population of young adults, who can hardly be representative of the whole society.

But today, thanks to new technologies and the use of the Internet, and following in the wake of large projects that have allowed to collect data from hundreds of thousands of people, ‘The Big Question’ is allowing scientists to create the most current and complete database on data and facts of general culture, thus creating a Trivial Pursuit of national dimensions and with a scientific foundation.

General knowledge and intelligence

There is no scientific consensus on questions such as whether general knowledge is part of a type of intelligence, or whether it is an indicator or a measure of it.

Some intelligence tests have sections of general knowledge, and many authors claim that this knowledge would be equivalent or belong to crystallized intelligence, that is, to what we already know (the facts, data, and experiences acquired and memorized over the years).

Others argue that their relationship is greater with reasoning and working memory, these aspects are more related to fluid intelligence, which refers to the mental ability to apply reasoning and logic to various new situations that will lead us to acquire new knowledge.

Be that as it may, it should be noted that there are authors who suggest that the results of a possible test of general knowledge sufficiently updated, relevant to the participants, and properly psychometrized, could be considered as a fairly reasonable representative value of intelligence.

General knowledge is highly relevant and informative in view of the expectations of the future of work and society. It is absolutely necessary to arrive at a clear description of what this general knowledge is, what aspects it covers, and what variables are the ones that modulate it.

In a changing world with a strong global and intercultural character, advances will come hand in hand with projects that promote knowledge, culture, and scientific collaboration. With that philosophy was born “The Big Question”.

Convergent Thinking: The key to problem-solving

Imagine sitting in class shading the bubble on a multiple-choice test. You would not think that simple action has a whole lot to do with creativity, but when combined with divergent thinking, convergent thinking is an integral component of problem-solving. The thought process that goes into answering standard questions opens up a world of possibilities known as convergent thinking.

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What is Convergent Thinking?

While studying human creativity, psychologist Joy Paul Guilford first created the term as the opposite of divergent thinking.

When presented with a problem, it allows someone to arrive at a solution by analyzing the information available to them and later applying established rules and reasoning. It relies heavily on logic. Its purpose is to decrease the chance of ambiguity—seeking to bridge the gap between multiple interpretations. Ideally, it leads to one correct answer or method to solve a problem. Examples are IQ tests, standardized tests, math quizzes, and spelling tests.

Convergent VS. Divergent Thinking

Being linear and systematic, convergent thinking is straightforward. It filters ideas to a single solution. The process focuses on the questions, “why?” and “what’s best?”

Contrarily, divergent thinking is web-like—creating connections between ideas. Divergent thinking generates multiple ideas that are original, open to more than one solution, and unconcerned with the risks or limitations.

While different concepts, convergent and divergent thinking go hand-in-hand. Typically, we use divergent thinking to generate multiple ideas followed by convergent thinking to analyze and narrow down those ideas.  

Convergent Thinking and Brain Activity

Brain activity in convergent thinkers is unique. Such activity is measured by a test called an electroencephalogram (EEG). Electrodes on the scalp measure a person’s brain waves. It causes a distinct increase in Theta bands, which is a type of brain wave linked to learning, memory, and intuition.

Studies of patients with hippocampal damage suggest that the ability to apply convergent thinking is associated with the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory (Warren et al., 2016). Neurotransmitter systems that carry signals to brain cells are also involved. Convergent thinking function is greater when lower levels of dopamine—the chemical for arousal, thinking, and planning—are present in the nervous system.

Convergent Thinking and Personality

Thinking processes affect personality. Personality traits are categorized into 5 basic dimensions. This is known as the Big Five method.

The Big Five personality traits are:

  • Openness—Curious, imaginative, sensitive to inner feelings
  • Conscientiousness—Efficient, organized, and diligently hardworking
  • Extraversion—Enjoys interacting with the world, talkative, energetic
  • Agreeableness—Considerate and kind to others, optimistic of human nature
  • Neuroticism—Sensitive and nervous, likely to be moody, anxious, or depressed, easily angered

After assessing brain activity studies, researchers conclude that divergent thinking, with its emphasis on creativity, is specifically linked to the traits of openness and extraversion. It was not found to be affected by any of the core personality traits. However, cognition does affect mood. Convergent thinkers tend to display more negative moods than their divergent thinking counterparts.

Executive Function Skills For Convergent Thinking

Executive functions are cognitive skills that assist in goal formation and achievement. There are three main areas: working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. Like this type of thinking, we practice executive function skills in daily life. These skills have a predominant role in creativity.

Executive function skills include but are not limited to:

Attention and Initiation

Attention is an executive function characterized by staying focused on a task. Attention is especially important for it because narrowing down one best solution requires focus. Additionally, attention helps sustain initiation—the executive function responsible for beginning a task and finishing it to completion.

Inhibition

Inhibition is an executive function that utilizes attention and reasoning to control impulsive, automatic responses. To put it simply, inhibition is part of self-control. A lack of inhibition prevents the ability to discard partial or incorrect solutions. When a person does not have inhibition, it also impacts their attention. They cannot remain focused enough to stay on task. Thus, poor inhibitory control is a disadvantage for convergent thinking.

Shifting

Although divergent thinking is unconcerned with limitations, the ‘best’ solution determined by convergent thinking tasks cannot be deterred by extensive limitations. Shifting is the executive function that allows us to adjust to these situations as they change or as limitations arise. In it, focus must shift to narrow down the ideas that were generated during divergent thinking.

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Regulating Emotions

Depending on the task, the thinking process can be stressful. Studies conclude that both convergent and divergent thinking tasks induce mood swings (Chermahini et al., 2011). Regulating emotions is the ability to deal with feelings, which is essential in times of stress. With its focus on filtering ideas, convergent thinking demands the managing of emotions. One has to acknowledge what they are feeling and address those feelings to overcome barriers to the most suitable solution.

Organizing

Convergent thinking is structured. The executive function, organizing, provides that much-needed structure. Organizing entails planning and prioritizing—each of which is relevant in convergent thinking. It is the point in the thinking process when ideas come to life. One has to identify key priorities to achieve their goals.  

IQ Tests and Convergent Thinking

Intelligence is a major component of cognition and thinking. IQ, which stands for intelligence quotient, measures convergent thinking. Questions on standard IQ tests are a prime example of this type of thinking. They measure logic, reasoning, basic knowledge, and thought flow. Intelligence does not depend on creativity, but they do have a relationship. Indicative of intelligence, higher IQ scores provide a starting point to it carry out. Problem-solving increases in difficulty if intelligence is low. However, intelligence does not guarantee creativity. Arriving at a correct textbook answer to a problem does not guarantee the capacity to generate original ideas before delving into the convergent thinking process.

How To Explore Creativity with Convergent Thinking

Most assume only divergent thinking is associated with creativity, but that is incorrect. It is necessary for creativity too. According to the Geneplore model, creativity is a cycle consisting of the generation stage and the exploration stage. Divergent thinking is the generation of ideas and convergent thinking explores ideas to put them in motion.

These general guidelines are beneficial to enhance creativity with convergent thinking:

Be Original

Do not dismiss novelty ideas. While divergent thinking is the stage in which original ideas are generated, convergent thinking involves actually working with ideas. Creative ideas may initially seem impossible due to limitations but think deeper. They may be able to be revised or modified. Step out of the ‘norm’ to courageously approach new ideas others do not understand.

Ask Questions

Questions beginning with “what,” who,” “when,” or “where” are typically convergent thinking questions. Convergent questions are less complex, easy to formulate, and strategic in nature. Asking questions creates goals to strive towards. The questions structure the thinking process. They also determine which information is no longer relevant and should be discarded.

Practice Objectivity

Convergent thinking is an objective experience. After establishing clear goals, those goals become the basis for the thought process. Objectiveness is focal for the organization and planning. Guide all questions around the objectives. This ensures the overall solution is met competently and without excessive distraction.

Take Time

Although we all appreciate situations of instant gratification, arriving at the single best solution to a problem is not instantaneous. Be deliberate when practicing convergent thinking. Hasty decisions prematurely eliminate ideas that could have potentially been successful. If overwhelmed, take a break from the process and return later with a fresh perspective.   

Convergent Thinking In Education

As previously stated, convergent thinking is implemented throughout the tasks of daily life. It has been put to practical use in educational settings. When convergent thinking is implemented for educational purposes, it requires information to be provided from numerous sources. Teachers are wise to deliver rigid, well-defined information for convergent thinking—not unfocused, open-ended ideas subjected to change. Concepts and materials are then combined to conclude the correct answer.

Examples of convergent thinking in school are study materials like flashcards, rote memorization, and drill learning. Class discussions between students and the teacher also contribute to convergent learning, as it is an opportunity to filter out incorrect ideas.

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Techniques of convergent thinking in the classroom are:

Grouping

Problem-solving processes originate with many ideas generated during divergent thinking. In contrast, those ideas must be organized into groups for convergent thinking. Some of the ideas are likely to be similar. By combining like-ideas, grouping makes the data easier to find the most accurate solution to the problem. The like-ideas can be merged into a single comprehensive solution.

Outlining

Students benefit from outlining because it offers structure. Facts and information in excess get disorganized, so outlining prevents useful data from getting lost amongst what is non-useful. Outlining techniques ensure the gathered research is easier retrieved from working memory. This is similar to grouping, except with more structure. Examples of outlining include step by step lists, web maps, or reframing questions with multiple choice answers.

Filtering

Both outlining and grouping are vital to the technique known as filtering. Outlining and grouping present the information in an organized manner to filter or weed out ideas that offer no solution to the problem at hand. Students cannot ‘choose the best answer’ on their exam without methodically eliminate the incorrect answers first.

As with anything, practice makes perfect. Convergent thinking does not come effortlessly. It requires repetition to refine the process.

References

Akbari Chermahini, S., & Hommel, B. (2012). Creative mood swings: divergent and convergent thinking affect mood in opposite ways. Psychological research, 76(5), 634–640. doi:10.1007/s00426-011-0358-z

Warren, D. E., Kurczek, J., and Duff, M. C. 2016. What relates newspaper, definite, and clothing? An article describing deficits in convergent problem solving and creativity following hippocampal damage. Hippocampus 26(7):835–40. doi:10.1002/hipo.22591

Career Coach: The perfect guide for a successful career

From an early age, we all ask, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” The answer inevitably evolves, beginning as youthful longings of becoming an astronaut or princess and later transforming to a more mature occupation. With such a question comes the matter of attainment: What are my career options? Is there special training involved? How do I secure the appropriate connections in my job? Even if already employed, a career coach can be the perfect guide for any successful career.

Career Coach

What Does a Career Coach Do?

A career coach is a professional who offers expert career advice. They are specially trained to identify a client’s strengths and then build on proficiencies to help people plan a career path. While working together, a career coach is like a personal cheerleader. They provide tips on creating an attractive resume and cover letter, locating job opportunities, and how to optimally respond to interviews. For clients that are already employed, a career coach advises on improving a work environment and earning promotions. The plan is tailored to the exact needs of the client. 

They differ from career counselors. Their focus is not solely on academics, as they consider all aspects of a client’s life. This includes not only strengths, but interests, values, and support system too.

Signs You Need a Career Coach

The backgrounds of those seeking a career coach are diverse. Clients come from numerous employment situations, varying in education level and socioeconomic status. However, the one commonality is they all desire a successful career, yet do not feel empowered with resources to reach their goals. Hiring one is nothing to be ashamed of. Here are signs you should consider one:

  • You’re unemployed
  • You’re anxious about the future
  • You feel unfulfilled
  • You’re tired of job hopping
  • You want a promotion
  • You have job stress
  • You dread going to work
  • You have poor lifestyle habits (i.e. unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, not sleeping)
  • You are unsure how to navigate a new job position
  • You need unbiased advice
  • You’re unprepared for an interview

Average Cost of a Career Coach

Don’t you prefer to get paid for your hard work? Career coaching is someone’s profession, so logically, sessions are not free. The cost varies depending on the needs of the client, the number of sessions scheduled, and the length of each session. The coach’s previous experience and credentials impact the cost as well. On average, a two-hour session can range from $75 to $250.
 
Most cannot accomplish their career goals in a single session. Multiple sessions are optimal to build a lasting relationship with your coach. Some have monthly services instead. Monthly packages are between $450 and $2,500. Group rates are less expensive. Remember, a career coach is an investment. You contribute time, effort, and resources to further your professional career.

How Can a Career Coach Improve Your Career Options?

Maybe you know what you want to do with your life, but you are struggling to execute a plan. Or perhaps your aspirations are undiscovered and necessitate direction. A career coach is helpful in either situation. They can expand your career opportunities through the following tasks:

Goal Formation and Tracking

Goal formation is the crucial to meeting with a career coach. If you are already certain of your goals, a career coach ensures they are specific, attainable, and realistic. They increase your sense of accomplishment by dividing your goals into long-term and short-term. Just because you are not reaching your end goal immediately, you are still showing progress. Career coaches track this progress.

There are clients who are unsure of their goals. A career coach uses a series of vocational tests which determine the client’s interests and skills. The client then chooses career options based on their strengths.

Assisting in the Job Seeking Process

A career coach has a role in the job seeking process. They research the current market for career opportunities and facilitate networking for their clients. Networking creates connections for future occupational promotions or opportunities.

Enhancing Resumes

A career coach understands how imperative an impeccable resume is to establish a career. Essentially, your resume is your first impression with your future employers. While they do not draft the entire resume, they teach clients the skills to do so. They are available for editing and proofreading and for suggestions on additional details that will enhance your resume.

Advising On Employment Related Conflicts

Conflict is part of working with others. Every employee is bound to encounter controversy of one form, but a career coach strives to reduce problems in the workplace—specifically those involving human resources. With an improved work environment, companies can focus on expanding job positions.  

Advocating for Clients with Differences

Clients who suffer from a disability or another adversity benefit from an advocate like a career coach. A career coach promotes the client to the intended employer. By depicting how their client would be an asset, employers see their value. Career coaches with an interest in disability negotiate job positions for their clients who require accommodations.

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Personal Benefits of a Career Coach

The benefits of a career coach are not entirely confined to your professional career. They extend into your personal life too. During your sessions with a career coach, you practice leadership, communication skills, and conflict management. These are the kinds of people skills which carry over into your relationships in daily life. As you grow as a person, you gain emotional intelligence to effectively express your emotions and respond to others with empathy.

How A Career Coach Relieves Anxiety

Lacking direction in your professional life leads to significant anxiety. You fear for the future not knowing your purpose, and each rejection is a blow to your self-esteem. Job stress is hindering you from feeling fulfilled in your current career situation. Career coaches relieve anxiety by providing clarity to your worries. By advising on a plan to reach your goals, you can overcome setbacks of rejection and implement actions to change aspects of discontentment in your job position.  

Career Coaching While Currently Employed

As previously mentioned, a career coach is not solely for the unemployed. For clients interested in pursuing a different career, they counsel clients on how to properly search for a new job while already employed.

Career coaching is advantageous even for those who have a stable job with a reputable company. If you seem to be stagnant in your current position, advice from a career coach can lead to a promotion and/or a raise in salary. A career coach aims to help clients make the most out of developing opportunities in their present career.

Employers ranking high within a company profit from career coaching. They discuss what goals they have for the company, and the career coach proposes which employees have the attributes to contribute to those goals.

Preparing for A Career Coach Session

It is important to note that a career coach does not do the work for you. Their job is to equip you with the resources and guidance to achieve your goals. For career coaching to be successful, you have to be willing to set aside the time, energy, and dedication. Knowing what to expect from a career coaching session makes the process less overwhelming. There are steps you can take to prepare.

Preparing for A Career Coach Session

Tell Your Story

The foundation of a career coach’s work is the client’s story. What is your background? What inspired your passions? Be ready to dive into the nitty-gritty details with complete honesty. Your career coach cannot assist you in your goals if they do not know the real you.

Prepare Your Resume

Arriving at your first session with a completed resume is a good indicator you are seriously committed to furthering your career. Your resume and cover letter are a reasonable starting point for the session because it is a reflection of how you are marketing yourself to employers.

Generate a List of Questions

Initially, meeting with a career coach is overwhelming while contemplating multiple thoughts, ideas, and plans for your career. The main topics you wish to address are easily disorganized. Although your coach is prepared to surmount any beginning obstacles, think about what you want out of your coaching. Generating a list of questions lends structure to the session and guarantees none are accidentally neglected. For example:

  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • Do I have passions and interests?
  • How can I incorporate my interests into a career?
  • What past jobs have I liked the most? The least?
  • What does a successful career look like to me?
  • What are my goals?
  • Which aspects of my current job to I dislike?

Maintain Realistic Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day, or so the saying goes. The same applies to your career goals. It’s unlikely your career goals will come to fruition in a day. Do not attend your coaching session with unrealistic expectations. You won’t leave your first session with your dream job, but you can return home with empowering resources and hope of a satisfying future.

Finding a Career Coach

Not every career coach is for you. While searching for a coach, keep your goals at the forefront of your mind. Find a coach that aligns with those goals and meshes with your personality. You must feel comfortable with your coach to have productive coaching sessions.

Contact associations and organizations you are affiliated with to find a career coach. Educational facilities are also equipped for career coaching recommendations because they are trained to assist students in kickstarting their careers. Try college career offices near your area.

Coaches receive certification through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARCC) and the International Coaches Federation (ICF). Browsing the online databases gets you one step closer to the career of your dreams.

Piaget Cognitive Development: A Quick Guide

Piaget Cognitive Development. From infancy through childhood, parents physicians place great emphasis on physical milestones. Walking, crawling, and the first tooth peeking through pink gums are the tangible manifestations of growth. However, the mental aspects are just as significant. Although the inner workings of the brain are invisible to the naked eye, promoting a child’s cognitive development is essential to their thought processes, memory, problem-solving, and decision making well into their adult years.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive Skills To Piaget Cognitive Development

To understand Piaget cognitive development, one must first be aware of cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are skills pertaining to cognition—the way we acquire knowledge about the environment and the world that surrounds us. Processing information is possible because of the various cognitive skills that allow us to interpret perceptions of the five senses: what we hear, see, touch, taste, and smell. Cognitive skills consist of the following:

These skills are involved in all daily tasks such as answering the phone, responding to a friend’s message, or even watching television.

What is Piaget Cognitive Development?

Cognitive development is the neurological and psychological development of the various functions of thinking. It entails applying cognitive skills to consciously interpret one’s surrounding environment. As a person matures, so does their ability to engage in higher thinking processes like problem-solving, emotional regulation, learning, and remembering. The term describes the brain’s development as it pertains to cognition.

According to Piaget cognitive development, there are set age-appropriate milestones spanning from infancy into adulthood. Reaching these milestones on time indicates optimal development. The concept first originated in the early 1900s when IQ tests were proposed as an accurate measurement of intelligence.

Areas of Piaget Cognitive Development

Cognitive development includes basic components of thinking. For optimal cognitive development, it is best to focus on the areas of information processing, intelligence, reasoning, memory, and language.

  • Information Processing—As the brain works in a sequence, it receives input through the senses, processes that information, and then receives output.
  • Intelligence—The mental capacity to learn, reason, plan, solve problem and comprehend complex ideas.
  • Reasoning—Applying and establishing facts, beliefs, and information.
  • Memory Part of the brain that stores and retrieve information as needed.
  • Language—The process in which children understand and communicate language.

Piaget Cognitive Development: 4 Stages

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss psychologist who constructed the most widely accepted theory of cognitive development known as Piaget Cognitive Development. While there are numerous theories, Piaget Cognitive Development provides an accurate depiction of the evolution of a child’s thinking processes. His theory was inspired by observing his children. He assumed that children’s intellect develops through accommodation, which is the process of taking in and altering information from their environment, and assimilation, which is how humans relate new information to previously existing information. It is concerned with all children and focuses on the progression of development instead of learning miscellaneous behaviors. A series of four stages mark the progression of cognitive development beginning in infancy and throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.

Sensorimotor Stage – Birth to 2 Years

The sensorimotor stage of cognitive development starts at the time of birth and ends as a toddler. Cognitive growth happens rapidly as the infant familiarizes itself with their reality. Cognitive abilities remain limited, but the child learns to separate their bodies from the environment through their senses and reflexes. In the sensorimotor stage, they respond to the sudden influx of new stimuli: noises, movements, people, and emotions.

The sensorimotor stage is divided into six substages:

  • Reflexes: Birth to One Month—A child’s intelligence is rooted in action. The child acquires knowledge in the reflex stage by adapting to their environment. This includes all natural “instinct” behaviors upon birth.
  • Primary Circular Reactions: One to Four Months—Reflex actions, like sucking a thumb, are intentionally repeated after the child realizes they are pleasurable. Primary circular reactions refer only to reactions within the body.
  • Secondary Circular Reactions: Four to Eight Months—Actions that are not reflex based originate in the child’s behavior. The child’s action results in a preferred event in the environment, rather than their body, and they seek to recreate the event by engaging in the behaviors that precipitated the event.
  • Coordination of Secondary Circular Reactions: Eight to Twelve Months—Cause and effect relationships are correlated with the child’s behaviors in the previous stages. They intentionally interact with the environment to fulfill their needs.
  • Tertiary Circular Reactions: Twelve to Eighteen Months—Minor change to cognition comes about as the child purposefully alters their actions to solve problems. Tertiary circular reactions have a trial-and-error foundation.
  • Mental Combinations: Eighteen to Twenty-four Months—Mental combinations concludes the period in which children understand their environment solely through actions. They associate symbols and language with their environment and form basic sentences.

Pre-operational Stage – 2 to 7 years

The pre-operational stage starts as a toddler at age two and continues until seven years of age. This stage is characterized by the child’s eventual expansion towards logic, but they still are unable to think logically or separate ideas because the egocentric mindset which surfaces in this stage limits their intellectual abilities. Children in the preoperational stage think in a manner that is primarily concerned with self. Their thoughts, perceptions, and ideas are indistinguishable from those of other people. They only see the world through their own point of view and cannot consider differing perspectives. Ecocentrism is the reason why young children experience conflict with their peers. While language is central to the pre-operational stage, the children do not use language to communicate with others and resolve conflict, but to make their thinking known.

The pre-operational stage is divided into two substages.

  • Symbolic Function— Children possess the ability to think about an object that is not in their immediate view. They attach symbols to their toys and caregivers in which they have associated with comfort.  Attempts at art and expression through play are manifestations of symbolic function.
  • Intuitive Thought—Thinking changes from symbolic to intuitive with the use of primitive reasoning. Intuitive thought refers to the vast knowledge children learn yet struggle to apply. They become curious about the world, asking many questions.

Concrete Operational Stage – 7 to 11 years

The concrete operational stage is the turning point in a child’s cognitive development. It begins at roughly seven years of age and is defined by the development of organized and rational thinking. Children begin to understand rules and use operations to logically solve problems. As children mature in the concrete operatorial stage, they apply logic exclusively to physical objects. They cannot turn their thinking towards hypothetical situations, only their concrete experiences.

The cognitive development during the concrete operational stage is cornerstone to the education of school-age children. They refine their cognitive abilities to remember information, and then to organize that information logically. Selective attention keeps them focused on a single task, despite distractions. Egocentrism that was previously prominent is eliminated in the concrete operational stage. Children start to see multiple viewpoints.

Although there are no substages, other processes (known as operations) in the concrete operational stage are:

  • Decentering—Considering all aspects of a problem in order to solve it.
  • Seriation—Sorting objects according to its characteristics (i.e. color, size, shape, etc.).
  • Transitivity—Recognizing logical relationships between objects in serial order.  
  • Classification—The ability to identify objects by their size, appearance, or characteristics.
  • Conservation—The length or quantity of an object does not dictate the appearance and arrangement.

Formal Operational Stage – 12 and Up

The formal operational stage is the last stage in Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. It begins in adolescence around the onset of puberty and lasts into adulthood. These young teenagers in the formal operational stage undergo rapid transformations in their cognitive development. This stage introduces the potential for abstract thought. They think about objects and situations hypothetically, which entails making inferences about situations that are “possibilities.” The former trial-and-error thought process is abandoned for problem-solving through deductive reasoning. They test solutions based on hypotheses.

How To Promote Piaget Cognitive Development

Each child develops at his or her own pace. However, they are not entirely on their own in their progress. Interactions with adults who serve as role models and other children facilitate cognitive development. Despite the child’s stage, incorporating these key activities into a daily routine are conducive to cognitive development.

“Play” with the 5 Senses

Sensory play is any hands-on learning activity that stimulates the five senses—seeing, hearing, touching, or smelling. This form of play of the five senses strengthens the neuron pathways in the brain. A neuron is a specialized brain cell that sends chemical messages to the nerves throughout the nervous system. Sensory play refines the efficiency of the pathways. As a result, the brain responds to the environment and can successfully complete more complex skills.

Exploring the environment through sensory play can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Playdough, building blocks, simple puzzles or board games, singing and reading aloud are some examples.

Sensory Play For Cognitive Development

Establish Routine

The technical definition of routine represents the steps taken to complete the tasks scheduled throughout the day. Waking up and eating breakfast before going to class, and later returning home to finish homework and watch television constitutes as routine. Everyday routines differ depending on the activity. Routines are crucial to cognitive development because it teaches children how to observe transition cues, predict, and become flexible when routines deviate from the norm.

Open-ended Questions and Statements

 Typical questions and statements are closed-ended—requiring only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer or a one-word response, whereas open-ended questions require in-depth answers. Thought out responses encourage children to partake in conversation. Children must think creatively, broadening the use of language and the cognitive skills.

Open-ended questions and statements begin with:

  • “Why do you think…?”
  • “What if…?”
  • “Tell me about…”

Visual Aids

Visual aids such as illustrations, charts, and three-dimensional models improve cognitive development help the child understand the information presented. Visual learning allows the brain to more easily recall details, as they are concrete.

The type of visual aid provided should be catered to the developmental stage. Drawings and illustrations are best for toddlerhood and early childhood, while three-dimensional models in middle childhood. The visual aids increase in complexity throughout adolescence.  

Communication

Language is an integral part of cognitive development. Consistently communicating language skills to children fosters their cognitive development. Speak to children ages five and up in complete sentences with challenging vocabulary words. Ensure to explain the context of the words to demonstrate proper use.

Significant learning: How do we internalize information?

What is significant learning? Learning is an essential part of our lives. We need to constantly acquire new knowledge and put it into practice in order to adapt to the environment. Sometimes it is not enough to retain long lists of data, we must internalize them. Ausubel’s significant learning theory explains how we integrate information into our brain. In this article, we will give you tips on how to learn significantly.

Significant Learning

Significant learning: Definition and characteristics

What is significant learning? To answer this question, we must be clear about what “learning” means. This term does not only involve the knowledge we are taught at school. It involves any lasting changes that we may observe in our behavior or that take place in our minds. Learning is essential in every area of our lives. Understanding and communicating the basics is the key to progress.

Psychologists and other professionals try to develop learning theories to explain how the brain learns. There are several proposals that address this issue from different angles. At present, an attempt is being made to understand this process through brain-based learning. Answers must be sought to provide future generations with better education.

In this article, we will talk about significant learning, which was proposed by the American psychologist David Ausubel. This author is one of the greatest exponents of constructivism. This perspective is based on each person building their own world through their own experiences. Piaget is also one of its most prominent exponents, which profoundly influenced Ausubel.

Ausubel’s significant learning theory states that we add and adapt the new information to our previous knowledge. It is a conscious process. Significant learning is an active process in which the subject is the protagonist.

This type of learning contrasts with rote learning, which is a more passive procedure. This constructivist theory contrasts with other proposals that focus on external influences.

Significant Learning: What do we need?

It is imperative that we have:

  • A cognitive structure: The existing basis with which the latest data interact is of great importance. It is made of the ideas we have, how they relate to each other and their degree of clarity.
  • New materials to learn: They need to be related to our previous knowledge. If it is difficult for us to find a link, we must make an effort to achieve a link that unites the new and previous concepts.
  • Willpower: The most important thing is the willingness of the person to form and structure knowledge. We are in charge of organizing the information in our brain.

Significant learning: Types and examples

Significant learning is used throughout our lives. Learning as machines can help us in specific cases like knowing our telephone number, our ID card or reciting a poem.

If we are interested in a topic, we will have to investigate the subject and retain it in a deeper and more lasting way. In fact, even if we don’t want to be experts, the results will improve if we learn significantly.

1. Feature learning

It is the most basic type of learning. From it comes the others. It consists of connecting meanings with certain notions. For example, it happens when we learn that an instrument that tells us the time is called a “clock”. It is not a simple association between concepts, the person connects them in a meaningful way.

2. Concept Learning

It is based on grouping the different representations into categories. It happens when we discover that although there are different types of clocks, they all have common attributes.

3. Learning statements

This is the most elaborate form of learning. It implies that the meanings of concepts are processed in depth in order to express them in the form of statements. It’s about creating logical connections.

For example, if we are asked everything we know about clocks, we will comment on their definition, uses, classifications, examples, etc. In order to do this task, we must have gone through the two previous types of learning.

Significant learning: Applications

Significant learning in the classroom

Significant child learning is vital for us to acquire new knowledge later on. Throughout our lives, we will find ourselves in a variety of situations where we have to settle new information deeply in our minds to overcome an academic challenge.

It doesn’t matter if we do it in college, for competition or to get a job. The sooner we implement strategies that enable us to learn meaningfully, the better.

Here are some significant classroom learning activities that will allow you to retain information more deeply.

1. Make concept maps

This will clarify and organize our ideas. Visually capturing the new concepts and linking them with others we know is a great way to firmly establish the latest data.

2. Explain the lesson to a friend

If we begin to talk about the topic we are studying to someone else, we take the trouble to structure the information. By answering your questions and looking for examples, our understanding of the subject will improve considerably.

3. Work in teams

Listening to people’s views helps us to better internalize information. Our colleagues will also benefit from our skills. We will discover new methods and data to incorporate into our learning process.

Significant learning in companies and organizations

Any type of institution requires its members to acquire new knowledge. There are completely mechanical jobs. Others imply a flexible way of thinking that adapts to continuous changes. However, in all jobs, you need to learn.

Recently it is difficult to keep up since it develops so fast. The future is uncertain and changing. This context does not imply that our future is negative, but that we must work hard to be efficient and adapt.

Companies and organizations should promote significant learning for their employees. This will encourage the involvement of workers and increase their productivity. Also, if we know what we are learning for and link it with our previous knowledge, we will be more motivated.

Significant learning in everyday life

We continue to learn throughout the life cycle. David Ausubel’s theory can be extrapolated to countless situations. For example, since childhood, we have some knowledge about cooking. We see people preparing food and exchanging recipes. In addition, we know a large number of dishes and know what we like and what we don’t like.

One day we may become independent and have to put everything we know about cooking into practice. We can ask our father to teach us his best tricks. He will see what our level is and act accordingly. In this way, knowledge will be mixed with those we have been learning all our lives.

In everyday life, we have to learn to live harmoniously with our flatmates, to drive in different cities or to behave in a party. The new situations will provide us with new knowledge that will interact with what we already knew about how to act in those circumstances.

Significant learning: Benefits

Ausubel’s significant learning is a simple theory that guides us to improve both education and interpersonal relationships.

  • Improved student-teacher relationship: If the teacher is concerned about knowing and adapting to the student’s knowledge, the student will adopt a more proactive attitude, be more motivated and study better. This may also apply to other contexts, such as family or peer groups. We may all need to teach something to our acquaintances at a certain point in time.
  • Ease the acquisition of new knowledge: It consists of “learning to learn”. It improves our learning habits and our understanding of the world.
  • The information is stored in long-term memory: The connections we create are thus firmly anchored in our cognitive structure. This way we can easily recover them in the future.
  • It’s personal: Each person has gone through previous experiences that affect their way of perceiving reality. This makes it easier for us to be able to form our own associations in an active and meaningful way. However, it requires a more personalized education that requires more time and dedication from educators.

Significant learning vs. rote learning

We all know people who are able to memorize immense lists very quickly without making practically the slightest effort (rote-learning). You may even be one of them. Or maybe you’d love to have that ability. On the other hand, there are people who, after reading a text, know how to summarize it and explain it perfectly, even if they don’t say it with the same words (significant learning). Which is better?

Each type of learning is more appropriate for a particular situation. It depends on the context, each person’s abilities, and motivation. In addition, everyone has had different experiences that have encouraged them to try to retain information in one way or another.

If we want to pass a subject and forget about it forever, we will probably try to memorize its contents as quickly as possible in order to pass the test. Next, we’ll forget about it when we’re done. On the other hand, if we are particularly interested in an issue, we will do our best to deepen it and internalize everything we learn.

These two types of learning are not opposites. They can perfectly complement each other. In fact, in tasks such as learning a country’s history, there are parts that we learn significantly and others that we memorize (such as dates). In most cases, however, it is preferable to learn significantly in order to make further progress.

Significant Learning Tips

1. Adopt a healthy lifestyle

This advice is valid for all areas of our life. Healthy habits are fundamental to our mental and physical health. Doing sports, eating well, keeping a regular schedule and getting enough rest will help us learn better. Likewise, contact with nature will help us to disconnect and de-stress from everyday life.

2. Be curious

Amazement is the key to wanting to inquire into why things are happening. If we ask questions and look for answers, we will be able to build new and lasting partnerships in our memory. Reflecting encourages us to learn more and better.

3. Don’t lose motivation

We are not always motivated to learn. Many times we are lazy to learn or read something new that might not contribute to what we need in the moment. However, we never know when the knowledge we get in certain moments might be needed.  we acquired years ago will be phenomenal. Taking a flexible attitude and accepting all tasks as challenges will bring us countless benefits in the long term.

4. Acquire good study habits

If we organize ourselves and have well-established habits, it will less difficult to study or carry out any similar task.

5. Prevents information overload

We have to face a lot of challenges at once every day. Sometimes we sacrifice doing things right for more activities. However, multitasking worsens our performance. It is preferable for us to know what our priorities are, how much time we have to carry them out and act accordingly. If we focus on a single issue and are clear about what we have to do, we will improve our performance.

6. Create your own summaries and outlines

If you are preparing for an exam, significant learning is the key to success. You can underline the most relevant aspects of the text after reading it a couple of times. Afterwards, when you are clear about what is most important, try to make your own notes with the essentials.

Think about what you know about the topic and connect it with the new information. New associations will emerge to help you master the content. You can use color psychology to make your summaries more memorable. In this way, you will be able to link the contents to emotions, keep attention and highlight the essential.

7. Make Examples

If every time you try to learn something you relate it to previous experiences or knowledge, you will make memorable connections. This way you can go from memorizing a concept to visualizing it and knowing how to explain it. Understanding an issue is the basis for meaningful learning.

Look for examples that excite you. You will create associations that go straight to your amygdala, which is a survival-associated part of the brain and is closely related to learning.

8. Take your time

Sometimes, fatigue or lack of time leads us to take the fastest path and avoid focusing on significant learning. With the rush we probably won’t retain the most important things.

If we are really interested in learning something, it is best to look at a time when we are not overwhelmed and to focus all our attention on this issue. We do not always have this option. But if we make an effort, our concentration will increase and we will appreciate it after seeing the results.

9. Rely on technology

Information and communication technologies allow us to improve our attention and keep us motivated to continue learning. New resources are continually being developed that simplify our daily activities and improve our quality of life. More and more means are being used to enable people to interact with them as they develop new skills.

10. Benefit from brain-based learning

CogniFit is the leading cognitive assessment and stimulation tool. Through an entertaining online brain-based platform, it enables both the specialized and general public to learn more about the brain and train cognitive skills such as memory, attention, perception, and reasoning.

If you have any questions or wish to deepen this topic, do not hesitate to comment. Thank you so much for reading this article.

 
This article is originally in Spanish written by Ainhoa Arranz, translated by Alejandra Salazar.
 

Learning Styles: What are They, Models and Discussion

Learning Styles. Learning is a massive part of everyone’s life. From childhood to adolescence, we go to school for hours daily to learn about various subjects. Outside of schooling, we continue to learn in everyday life — including how to perform better in the workplace, how to work through interpersonal issues, or how to fix practical household dilemmas. But does everyone learn in the same way? That doesn’t seem to be the case. There is no one-size-fits-all method of learning. To learn and teach most effectively, we must know an individual’s preferred learning styles.

Learning is an important part of life.

Different Learning Styles?

It is often recognized that there are differences in the ways individuals learn. Even at a very young age, a child will prefer certain subjects and teachers over others. They may be excited at their performance on a math assignment, but spend their time in history class doodling. Alternatively, a child may be an enthusiastic art student under the guidance of one teacher, and then lose interest when that teacher is replaced. These are the consequences of a child’s unique learning style.

In the classroom, teachers will notice that students vary remarkably in the pace and manner by which they pick up new ideas and information. This same concept carries into the workplace, where employers notice that employees learn and perform better under different conditions. Conversely, each teacher has their own preferred method of teaching. Each teacher has their particular style and then so does each learner. Problems can occur when teachers and learners don’t match.

Models of Learning Styles

Since the 1970s, researchers have theorized models to describe individual differences in learning. Everyone has a mix of preferred learning styles. These preferences guide the way we learn. They determine the way an individual mentally represents and recalls information. Research shows that different learning styles involve different parts of the brain. Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted model of learning styles. Rather there are dozens of competing models. The most widely recognized model, “The Seven Learning Styles”, as well as David Kolb’s and Neil Fleming’s models are discussed below.

What are the different learning styles?

The Seven Learning Styles

Known simply as “The Seven Learning Styles”, this is the most commonly accepted model of learning styles. It is referenced by researchers and teachers alike. To find out which of the seven learning styles apply to you, fill out this questionnaire. This is an unofficial inventory of the Seven Learning Styles provided by Memletics (care for the pop-ups!). The Seven Learning styles are as follows:

Visual (Spatial)

Visual learners have an ability to perceive the visual. They prefer to learn through pictures and images and are good at spatial understanding (relating to a given space and the relationship of objects within it). They create vivid mental images to remember information and enjoy viewing pictures, videos, maps, and charts.

Skills:

  • Interpreting and manipulating images
  • Drawing and painting
  • Charting and graphing
  • Good sense of direction
  • Creating visual analogies and metaphors
  • Puzzle Building
  • Constructing
  • Designing and fixing objects

Tips:

  • Use images, pictures, and other visuals to learn
  • Pay attention to color, layout, and spatial organization
  • Make use of ‘visual words’ when speaking
  • Use ‘mind maps’ (diagrams used to visually organize information)

Aural (Auditory/Musical)

Aural learners prefer to learn through sounds and music and are able to produce and appreciate music. They tend to think in rhythms and patterns, and are particularly sensitive to sounds in the immediate environment.

Skills:

  • Singing and whistling
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Writing music
  • Recognizing melodies and tonal patterns
  • Understanding rhythm and structure of music

Tips:

  • Use mnemonics, rhyming, and rhythm to memorize new ideas
  • Ambient recordings can increase concentration
  • Music can inspire certain feelings and emotional states. Make use of music to anchor your emotions.

Verbal (Linguistic)

Verbal learners have an ability to use words and language. While many people think in pictures, these learners think in words. They tend to be elegant speakers, with highly developed auditory skills.

Skills:

  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Explaining
  • Listening
  • Storytelling
  • Persuasion
  • Analyzing language

Tips:

  • Read content aloud, and try to make it dramatic and varied to aid recall
  • Verbal role-playing can aid in understanding concepts
  • Make use of techniques such as assertion and scripting
  • Record your scripts and listen back

Physical (Kinaesthetic)

Physical learners prefer learning with their body and sense of touch. They are adept art controlling their bodies and handling objects. Information is processed by interacting with the space around them. A good sense of balance and hand-eye coordination is common.

Skills:

  • Physical coordination
  • Working with hands
  • Using body language
  • Sports
  • Dancing
  • Acting

Learning tips:

  • Use hands-on activities to learn
  • Describe the physical sensations of an experience with verbs and adverbs
  • Use physical objects as much as possible, including flash cards and miniature models
  • Writing and drawing diagrams may help, as these are physical activities
The Seven Learning Styles is the most popular model. 

Logical (Mathematical)

Logical learners are able to use reason, logic, and numbers. They think in terms of systems, patterns, and concepts. These learners also seek to understand the reasoning or the “why” behind each new concept and like to experiment.

Skills:

  • Categorization
  • Problem solving
  • Complex mathematical calculations
  • Connecting concepts
  • Making logical conclusions from long chains of reasoning
  • Geometry
  • Experimentation

Learning tips:

  • Focus on exploring connections between ideas
  • Make lists of key concepts from material
  • Think in terms of procedures
  • Think in terms of systems
  • Thinking in terms of systems may help you understand the “big picture”
  • Create diagrams that outline entire systems

Social (Interpersonal)

Social learners have an ability to relate to and understand others. These learners are good at sensing the feelings, intentions, and motivations of others.  They are also able to see things from multiple perspectives. These learners are often good at encouraging cooperation, but sometimes their abilities enable them to manipulate others.

Skills:

  • Empathy
  • Listening
  • Communication, both verbal and non-verbal
  • Conflict resolution
  • Establishing relations with others
  • Building trust
  • Noticing the feelings, moods, intentions, and motivations of others

Learning tips:

  • Work with others as much as possible
  • Use one-on-one or group roleplaying
  • Share what you have learned with others, including associations and visualizations you have made
  • Learn from others’ practices, associations, and visualizations
  • Learn from others’ mistakes

Solitary (Intrapersonal)

These learners like to introspect and self-reflect. This gives them a keen awareness of their own inner state of being. They understand their own inner desires, motivations, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses.

Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-analysis
  • Evaluating one’s own thoughts and emotions
  • Understanding one’s role in relationships with others

Learning tips:

  • Study in private
  • Try to invest yourself personally in your work
  • Adjust your goals to fit your personal values.  This maximizes motivation.
  • Keep a journal to record thoughts and observations
  • Focus on what you would be feeling or thinking about when you associate or visualize
  • Train your brain cognitively, with training programs such as CogniFit which is a leading company in cognitive brain training programs. You can register here.

David Kolb’s Model of Learning Styles

“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” – David A. Kolb

David A. Kolb’s model is outlined his book “Experiential Learning”, published in 1984. In this book, Kolb speaks of a four-stage cycle of learning as well as four independent learning styles. According to Kolb, all four stages of the learning cycle will be engaged in a complete learning process. The four stages are described below.

  1. Concrete Experience – This occurs when a new experience, or a reinterpretation of an existing experience, is encountered.
  2. Reflective Observation – This occurs when the experience is reviewed or reflected upon, with the goal of achieving a consistent understanding.
  3. Abstract Conceptualization – This occurs when a new idea or concept arises from reflection.
  4. Active Experimentation – This occurs when new ideas are applied to the world and the results are observed.

David Kolb’s four learning styles are built upon this four-stage learning cycle.  An individual will naturally prefer one of these styles over the others. This preference is influenced by social and educational environments as well as cognitive structures. Although everyone will occasionally need the stimulus of all four of these learning styles, it is useful to know your personal orientation.

Learning Styles: Diverging

This style corresponds with the first two stages and involves watching and feeling. People who are oriented towards diverging are able to see things from many different perspectives. They gather information by watching rather than doing and use their imagination to solve problems. This means that they are good at brainstorming and other methods of generating ideas. Diverging thinkers tend to have an open mind and broad interests. They tend to be imaginative and emotional and can be talented in the arts.

Learning Styles: Assimilating

This style corresponds with the second and third stages. It involves watching and thinking. People who prefer assimilating have a concise, logical approach to processing information. To them, ideas and concepts are primary, while people and practical applications are secondary. Information should be organized in a clear logical format. Because of their preference for the abstract, these learners tend to prefer reading, lectures, and analyzing concepts.

Learning Styles: Converging

This styles corresponds with the last two stages and involves doing and thinking. These learners strive for practical, “hands-on” solutions. They excel at technical work, finding practical uses for ideas and theories, and are less concerned with the interpersonal. Problem-solving comes most naturally to these learners. They like to experiment with new ideas and find practical applications. This allows for great technical and specialist abilities.

Learning Styles: Accommodating

This style corresponds with the fourth and first stages. It involves doing and feeling. Much like converging learners, accommodating learners are “hands on”.  They rely on intuition rather than logic, and their strength lies in imaginative ability and discussion. “Gut” instinct is primary. They do not shy away from an interpersonal approach, often relying on others for information or analysis. New challenges and experiences excite these learners.

Neil Fleming’s Model of Learning Styles

Dr. Neil Fleming identified four learning styles in the 1980’s. These four styles came to be known as the “VARK” model of learning styles. This model describes the sensory preferences of learning. It is built on earlier notions of sensory processing, such the VAK model. This is perhaps the most straightforward of models. It is simple yet insightful.

  1. Visual – You learn best from images, pictures, symbols, charts, graphs, diagrams and other forms of spatial organization.
  2. Auditory – You learn best from sound, rhythm, music, speaking and listening.
  3. Reading and Writing – You learn best from reading and writing.
  4. Kinesthetic – You learn best from interacting with their physical surroundings, making use of your body and sense of touch.

Learning Styles: A myth?

There has been recent controversy regarding the subject of learning styles. Although the idea has a lot of intuitive appeals, many disagree with it altogether. There are some problems that can be easily identified.

The first is that there is no agreed-upon model for learning styles. Over 70 different models have been identified, including The Seven Learning Styles, David Kolb’s model, Neil Fleming’s model, “right” and “left” brain model, “holistic” vs. “serialist” model, and so on. All of these models have very little research that supports their validity over others — some are merely more popular than others.

The second and most important problem is that there is no research to support the effectiveness of teaching to an individual’s learning style. A major premise of the theory of learning styles is that individuals learn better when the material is matched to their learning style. Unfortunately, studies have shown either no evidence or weak evidence to support this. On the other hand, studies do show that individuals will learn better if they reflect on their own learning style. This alone lends credence to the theory of learning styles. While it may not be useful to teach to individual learning styles, it is useful to reflect on your own preferences.

Some argue that the lack of evidence means that learning styles don’t exist. Many agree that they do exist, but are simply difficult to measure. Regardless of the extent of their validity, it is always interesting to learn more about yourself.

Learning can be daunting. Knowing your preferences will help.

References

Cherry, Kendra. “Are You a Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, or Tactile Learner?” Verywell, 15 June 2017.
“Learning Styles Explained.” Idpride.
“Learning-Styles-Online.com.” Overview of learning styles, Advanogy.Com, 2017
McLeod, Saul. “Saul McLeod.” Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle | Simply Psychology, 2010.

Why your “cuz” is smarter than you: Unraveling the IQ test

A long time ago, humans invented the concept of intellectual quotient to measure intelligence and discover who had the most privileged minds in our society. Some time later, we found out that these tests aren’t as reliable as we thought they were for two main reasons. The first is that the smartest being is your “cuz”, who always knows more than you about everything: politics, religion, sports… and he’ll never turn down an opportunity to show his superior intellect. Want to know the second thing? In this post we’ll unravel the myth of the IQ test.

Unraveling the IQ test

A study done by scientists Adrian M. Owen, Adam Hampshire and Roger Highfield in 2012 brought to light another problem that this test has.

Our brains use different parts for different thought processes, which is why you need independent tests for measuring reasoning, memory, and verbal skills in order to get an accurate measurement of someone’s intelligence. The IQ test only measures specific aspects of our cognitive abilities.

The research also discovered that smokers and those with anxiety do worse in these kinds of tests, while those who play video games do better on reasoning and short-term memory tests. This is good news for current generations of gamers and youtubers, which also explains how someone is able to live off of playing video games. These people are not stupid. Not in the least.

Another criticism of intelligence tests is that people who are used to tests or exams will be more comfortable, while those who don’t have experience with assessments will be nervous and likely not perform as well. This is usually the case of those with a university degree, who later say is worthless. Obviously, the best way to grow your brain is at the School of Life, where your “cuz” graduated magna cum laude.

IQ tests can also be biased toward a certain racial or cultural group. It’s difficult to create a test like this without inadvertently showing some cultural bias. People have tried to design tests that only use graphics and images, without any language, but many scientists have said that it’s impossible.

In summary, new discoveries have shown that it is impossible for an IQ test to measure a person’s capabilities with only one parameter, as the human brain is too complex. There are highly rational, but forgetful people, just like there are people with a knack for languages but don’t do as well in other areas.

If you want to accurately assess your brain functions or professionally stimulate your brain, you should do scientific programs. CogniFit has a complete online battery of tests that are able to measure 20 different fundamental cognitive functions: attention, memory, planning, etc. Each of these abilities is perfectly defined and subject to an objective control. These tests assess various cognitive abilities, covering different kinds of intelligence. Whatever you do, you’ll never get a score quite as high as a certain family member, but there are brain training exercises that can help get you closer. Let’s get cracking!

Research debunks IQ myth: cognitive ability requires more than one measure

Research debunks IQ myth: cognitive ability requires more than one measure.

After conducting the largest online intelligence study on record, a Western University-led research team has concluded that the notion of measuring one’s intelligence quotient or IQ by a singular, standardized test is highly misleading.

The results showed that when a wide range of cognitive abilities are explored, the observed variations in performance can only be explained with at least three distinct components: short-term memory, reasoning and a verbal component.