Category Archives: Learning

Could Cognitive Stimulation Help You Learn a New Language?

The cognitive functions trained by CogniFit’s brain training tools—including Focus, Naming, Short-term Memory, and more—are essential in human development and play a key role in learning and using language.

The more researchers investigate how we acquire and process language, the clearer the relationship between our executive functions and language acquisition becomes.

Links between cognitive abilities and language-acquisition skills can be found throughout the Neuroscientific literature, including links between lexical-semantic processing and cognitive abilities such as Inhibition (Khanna and Boland, 2010), Working Memory and Updating (Weiland et al., 2014); links between syntactic processing and Inhibition, Shifting, and Updating (Novick et al., 2005Roberts et al., 2007); and links between both sentence comprehension (Daneman and Carpenter, 1980) and sentence production (Slevc, 2011) and the cognitive ability for Updating, to name a few.

Based on this growing body of scientific work in this area, scientists in the field see the potential of cognitive stimulation focused on specific executive functions and cognitive abilities for increasing and strengthening the neural networks underlying more general domains such as language skills.

But how can cognitive stimulation activities, such as those offered by CogniFit, improve our ability to learn a language? First, we have to understand the history and science behind cognitive stimulation techniques.

The Growth of Cognitive Stimulation

Cognitive stimulation—which includes techniques and strategies that aim to improve the cognitive functioning of different capacities and cognitive functions such as attention, reasoning, memory, perception, abstraction, or language skills—has been an important area of interest among the scientific community since at least the 1970s when researchers began designing clinical intervention programs focused on the restoration of damaged cognitive functions in cognitive domains such as attention, executive functions, working memory, processing speed, and reasoning.

As the processes underlying cognitive stimulation began to mature, therapists began to use cognitive stimulation as a path to neuropsychological rehabilitation for patients with brain injury (Sohlberg and Mateer, 1987), depression (Zeiss et al., 1979), cognitive impairment (Labouvie-Vief and Gonda, 1976), hyperactivity (Douglas et al., 1976), or schizophrenia (Olbrich and Mussgay, 1990).

Over the years, cognitive stimulation has grown as a scientific tool. It has been used in a wide variety of areas, such as learning and education, psychological disorders, brain damage, or neurodegenerative disorders, with users reporting improvements in overall cognition and in specific cognitive domains in both healthy and unhealthy samples.

While early research into the effectiveness of cognitive stimulation interventions was focused mainly on how interventions affected the specific cognitive ability being trained, known as near transfer effects (van Heugten et al., 2016), more recent research has been looking into how cognitive stimulation can benefit more general cognitive domains and skills, known as far transfer effects (Dahlin et al. (2008)Hardy et al. (2015); Au et al. (2015)).

The scientific community is beginning to uncover the benefits and far transfer effects of cognitive stimulation beyond the training’s specific cognitive abilities. As this is happening, they have started exploring new ways to leverage cognitive stimulation tools for more generalized applications such as language acquisition.

Optimizing Cognitive Stimulation Programs to Achieve Far Transfer Effects

Based on this concept of near and far transfer effects, we can see the potential for cognitive stimulation tools, like those developed by CogniFit, in generalized domains such as language. But what does a cognitive stimulation intervention need in order to achieve these far transfer effects?

From what is shown in the scientific literature, there are three aspects of cognitive stimulation programs that may be at the center of achieving the beneficial far transfer effects. These include the validity of intervention activities, the timing of the training, and the adaptation of the training to the individual’s cognitive state at each stage of the intervention.

The validity of the intervention requires not only that the intervention trains the specific cognitive ability but also that it is engaging and motivates the user to adhere to and become invested in the intervention.

The timing of a cognitive stimulation intervention is critical. Cognitive stimulation activities activate specific neural activation patterns in the brain. Frequent, repeated training can help create new synapses and reorganize neural circuits. The more frequently that a user trains a specific cognitive ability, the stronger the neural circuits become.

Graphic projection of neural networks after 3 weeks.

The final aspect of cognitive stimulation programs may be the most important for achieving the desired far transfer effects. Adapting the level of difficulty of the cognitive stimulation tasks throughout the intervention is key to achieving the highest possible benefit. However, simply increasing the difficulty from one activity to the next may not be adequate for every situation. Natural variations in performance throughout the length of the intervention mean that each session should be scaled to the user. Dynamic adaptation, such as with CogniFit’s patented algorithms, is an “essential requisite to foster not only maximization of the benefits of the training, but also adherence to it.

Applying New Cognitive Stimulation Technologies to Language Acquisition

New technologies have made it possible to create engaging, interactive, practical, and dynamic cognitive stimulation training tools. In addition. the ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data allows for the development of powerful algorithms which can create personalized training recommendations with dynamically adjusted difficulty. Taken together, these two massive advances in cognitive stimulation programs mean the potential to produce benefits in more general domains such as language is higher than ever.

While research into how training non-linguistic cognitive skills affects language learning, linguistic skills, and language control (Liu et al. 20162019) is still in its earliest stages, some studies are already seeing hopeful outcomes (Hayashi, 2019Karousou and Nerantzaki, 2020).

As our world becomes more interconnected and we interact more than ever before with people from different countries and cultures in our work, school, and travel, the importance of language learning will continue to increase.

Thankfully, it seems cognitive stimulation programs like CogniFit may make it easier for current and future multilinguals to acquire a new language.

Discover What are Cognitive Learning Styles

Consider a problem you recently encountered. How did you solve it? Did you need to visualize the solution or were you likely to verbalize your thought process aloud? These questions all pertain to cognitive learning styles—a term used to describe the way an individual processes information from the world around them. Cognitive learning style is influenced by personality, environment, culture, and social interactions. Read further to understand more about your cognitive learning style, as well as how to develop your learning habits.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

What Is Cognitive Learning Style?

Thoughts, experiences, the five senses (i.e. sight, touch, smell, hear, and taste)—they are all ways in which we take in information from our environment and interactions with others. The mental action of acquiring that information is known as cognition. It is related to a term called cognitive learning style.

Cognitive learning style describes an individual’s habits of processing environmental stimuli (information). Cognitive learning style simply indicates the tendencies of certain behaviors that occur during thinking and learning.

Learning Style and Personality

Cognitive learning style is, in essence, a personality component. Leading institutions have used the Myers Briggs personality testing to connect specific personality types with learning processes. For example, someone who is extraverted and outgoing may not learn best through auditory learning where they are required to listen for long periods. Instead, hands-on-learning with plenty of social interaction is optimal. These variances in learning styles amongst people influence their attitudes, values, and relationships.

Why is Cognitive Learning Style Important?

Knowing an individual’s cognitive learning style is critical to learn at one’s full potential. The concept is applied to many settings, especially in education. Cognitive learning develops the capacity to think abstractly, which is important in a classroom. Rather than memorization, students who are aware of their cognitive learning style are able to fully comprehend the information they have learned. They understand the reasons behind complex topics and are more likely to retain information to further build on that knowledge. Training our cognitive skills can also help our cognitive learning styles. CogniFit trains up to 23 different cognitive skills.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Visual

As the name suggests, the visual learning style encompasses learning through the sense of sight. To effectively learn, a visual learner needs to visualize the information. They learn best by visualizing images, pictures, maps, and diagrams to organize and process learning material. This occurs by various visual attributes: spatial awareness, photographic memory, color or tone, and brightness or contrast. Visual learners can easily imagine their ideas to bring them to life, as they are skilled with imagery.

Personality habits of visual learners include being focused and well organized in planning. Many are not very talkative, yet are prone to frequent daydreaming. They have a good memory for faces and facts that are conveyed in images but tend to forget faces and verbalized information.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Auditory

Auditory learning is a type of cognitive learning style in which the individual learns by hearing or listening. They are very successful in the typical classroom lecture setting and excel at oral presentations, following verbal directions, and explaining topics aloud. Most auditory learners are talkative. In conversation, they are intuitive to changes in tone that underlie the meaning of speech.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Kinesthetic

The kinesthetic learning style is a tactile, hands-on approach to learning. It is an active form of learning based on physical activities rather than reading text or listening to a lecture/presentation. To learn through the sense of touch, incorporating motions into teaching new information increases understanding. Kinesthetic learners possess energetic, creative personalities. They are skilled in physical activities like sports and have developed coordination.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Reading/Writing

The cognitive learning style reading and writing refers to a preference for learning through words. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the words used in what the individual is expected to know. Reading and writing learners best process information by utilizing glossaries, reading notes, and arranging lists of words into questions. They often enjoy reading and demonstrating comprehension of abstract topics expressed in their writing.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Field Dependent Versus Independent Model

Developed by psychologist Herman Witkin in 1962, field-independent versus independent model is a concept in cognitive learning styles. Field independence is marked by the ability to separate details from context. Field independent learners are independent. They are highly focused, working best individually while relying less on peer groups to process information. Reading and writing are two skills field-independent learners excel in because they can be performed alone without intervention from others.

Contrarily, field-dependent learning is characterized by the inability to separate details from context. In field-dependent learning, information is one “big picture.” Field dependent learners struggle to isolate the details that form the whole. These learners work most effectively in groups or with teacher support. They have strong interpersonal relationships and function well as part of a team. Although not as focused on field-independent learners, they exceed in processing information orally.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Reflection Versus Impulsivity

The cognitive learning model of reflection versus impulsivity was created by psychologist Jerome Kagan in 1958. This cognitive style can be determined by the ways someone approaches a problem. Those who display reflectivity in their learning consider alternative solutions, whereas impulsivity is spontaneously responding to a problem with little thought of the various possible solutions and their outcomes.

Studies show these differences in learning begin in pre-school years. In a classroom setting, reflective learners are conscientious. They do not rush to complete their assignments, taking time to ensure its accuracy. Impulsive learners make more mistakes and turn in their assignments quickly.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Leveling Versus Sharpening 

Leveling versus sharpening pertains to the cognitive skill of memory. The two learning variances differ in how an individual uses memories to process information. Those who apply to level to their learning apply numerous memories and prior knowledge to organize the new information. However, learners who lean towards sharpening depend on fewer memories to assimilate information. Studies reveal that sharpeners are more accurate in the information they are learning at present. This is because levelers blend so many pieces of their memories with the information they are expected to learn that some may be inaccurate.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Scanning

The learning style known as scanning refers to individual differences in a cognitive skill known as attention. Whether relevant or irrelevant to the information to be learned, scanners direct their attention to all features of their environment. They have a broader view of a problem.

Types of Cognitive Learning Styles: Serialist Versus Holist 

Serialist versus holist is a cognitive learning style stemming from Gordon Pask’s conversation theory. Serialist learners learn linearly in a sequential manner. Learning tasks are worked systematically one at a time. These learners are overwhelmed by excessive details, as it distracts from the task at hand. They prefer structured teaching.

Holists learn top-down, hierarchical fashion. They approach learning as a whole without breaking it down into sub-tasks. Overall, they work spontaneously. To process information, holists do not need structure and are able to think broadly about a subject.

How to Develop Your Cognitive Learning Style

While cognitive learning style differs from person to person, there are basic skills and techniques to develop your cognitive learning style:

  • Explore new ideas—Learning involves comprehending ideas taken in from the world around you. One idea inevitably leads to another. Do not be afraid to investigate those resulting ideas, as they provide the opportunity to practice applying your unique learning style.
  • Explain patterns of thinking—After learning occurs, explaining patterns of thinking displays a complete understanding of the subject. Being able to explain how you learn develops your potential to learn additional information.
  • Refine cognitive skills—Cognitive skills entail attention, memory, logic, reasoning, and auditory and visual processing. Regardless of one’s learning style, these skills are necessary for you to take in information and apply it to daily life.
  • Reflect on your learning experiences—Learning through your cognitive learning style means you must be intuitive about your learning habits. Reflect on instances when learning was successful as well as unsuccessful. What did you do? Is there something you could do differently in the future?
  • Reduce stress—Excessive stress distracts the brain from processing other stimuli in the environment. Keep stress levels low for optimal learning.
  • Sleep—The brain requires rest to heal and regenerate neurons (i.e. brain cells). Without proper rest at night, the brain cannot form the pathways for learning. Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep for the average adult.
  • Exercise the brain—Play brain training games, solve puzzles, play board games, or read books. Activities that stimulate the brain build the brain pathways for learning.

References

Messick, S. (1989). Cognitive Style and Personality: Scanning and Orientation Affect. Princeton, New Jersey: Educational Testing Service.

Sternberg, R. (1997). Thinking Styles. Boston: Cambridge University Press.

Associative Learning: Learning from association or relating several things

Associative Learning: How do punishments and rewards affect us? Have you ever wondered how we learn that something is dangerous or beneficial to us? What is associative learning? What is it for? What types are there? Discover here the answers to these questions and much more. In this article, we will explain in detail and give numerous examples to one of the most popular approaches to learning.

Associative Learning

What is Associative Learning?

Regardless of the environment, the method we use or our motives, learning consists in relatively stable changes in our behavior or our mind produced by experience.

How does our brain learn? Answering this question is a great challenge for psychologists and professionals from other disciplines dedicated to education. Experts strive to develop learning theories. In this article, we will talk about one of the most successful proposals.

The definition of associative learning encloses several different types of cognitive processes and events. It is a learning that takes place when two elements are connected in our brain. For example, if we associate the alarm clock to get up early, we will find out what this instrument is for and how little we like it.

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What is Associative Learning for?

Learning new content and constantly adapting to the circumstances is fundamental in all life stages. Progress in understanding this process favors the advancement of better educational methods and increase the common welfare. If we were not able to associate different ideas, we would be forced daily to ask how we get to our house or exposing us to dangers like fire after ignoring that it burns. We would have what is commonly called “three-second memory” or “fish memory”. Fortunately, we are able to connect the dots and associate different things for example, that water quenches thirst or that eating certain foods can give us allergies. 

How does associative learning take place?

The processes related to associative learning takes place through experience. Our experiences teach us what benefits us and what is harmful to us. Although we don’t always get the same results with the same acts, past events are a fairly reliable guide for our future actions.

Associative Learning: Types and examples

Animals have been the main protagonists in the experiments dedicated to deepening associative learning. Ivan Pavlov developed one of the most famous experiments in associative learning and psychology in general. In the 1980s this Russian physiologist observed how dogs salivated (unconditioned response) after seeing the food (unconditioned stimulus). He then decided to sound a neutral stimulus like a bell (conditioned stimulus) when presenting food to animals. The result was that the dogs began to salivate upon hearing this instrument (conditioned response). They had associated the sound of the bell with food.

The hippocampus role in associative learning

Strong learning-related patterns of neural activity are provided within cells in the hippocampus and they participate in the initial formation of new associative memories. There may be gradual recruitment of a network of hippocampal neurons during the formation of new associative memories. Other brain areas may be involved in associative learning including the prefrontal cortex (Asaad et al., 1998), frontal motor-related areas (Brasted and Wise, 2004; Chen and Wise, 1995a; Chen and Wise, 1995b; Mitz et al., 1991) and striatum (Brasted and Wise, 2004).

Associative learning: Types and examples

1. Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is a type of associative learning based on the association between a neutral stimulus with another that is significant for a person or an animal in order to generate a similar response. It is the process we have seen previously with Pavlov’s dog.

A representative experiment in classical conditioning is that of Little Albert. It took place in 1920 and was carried out by Watson and Rayner. They felt that fear, anger, and love were the original patterns of emotional reactions in children and developed as they grew older.

Therefore, they decided to experiment with Albert, a small nine months remarkably undisturbed and in good health. Albert only reacted with fear to a thunderous sound caused by a steel bar being struck behind him.

Subsequently, they began to present white rats while causing noise. There was a firm association between these two stimuli that was generalized to others like soft cotton or a seal coat. Albert had developed a phobia of white or hairy objects or living things. Currently, it is absolutely forbidden to carry out research like this for obvious ethical reasons. The following video is the Little Albert experiment.

Imagine that you have dined your favorite dish. Then you lie quietly in bed. But for some reason totally foreign to your dinner, you vomit several times throughout the night. Most likely, your favorite food will start to look disgusting. This is an example of a process of classical conditioning. Has it ever happened to you?

Generalization and discrimination

Generalizing and discriminating helps us to adapt better to all kinds of contexts. For example, little Albert generalized his fear of several similar stimuli. Instead, a demonstration of discrimination occurs when we learn that we can only cross the street when the traffic light is green.

Extinction

It consists of not associating the conditioned response with the unconditioned stimulus. For example, imagine that we associate exaggerating our qualities so people praise us. However, if one day our friends stop praising us regardless of the exceptional anecdotes we report, then we will stop using this technique and our behavior will be extinguished.

2. Operant or instrumental conditioning

This type of associative learning has many similarities with the previous one, like the existence of similar procedures of generalization, discrimination, and extinction. However, in operant conditioning, the individual is less passive than in the classical conditioning and his responses are not automatic. It is that the consequences of a person’s behavior produce changes in their learning, favoring the repetition of their actions or ceasing to occur. Skinner was an influential behavioral psychologist who continued to work on the ideas of Pavlov and Watson. He created the famous Skinner boxes, which were used to experiment with rats. A small dose of food was offered to these animals each time they hit a bar. At first, the rats pressed the bar out of curiosity or casually. However, when they realized that whenever they acted like that they were rewarded, they began to perform this act voluntarily. If you want to know more you can watch the following video.

Reinforcement and punishment

Reinforcements or prizes increase the likelihood that we will act in a certain way. On the one hand, there are positive reinforcers, which are the rewards given for performing certain behaviors (increased rat behaviors in the previous experiment). Another example is to make a compliment to a person who has done us a favor.

Associative learning- Operant Conditioning– Photo by Pet Education Committee

Negative reinforcements, on the other hand, are based on not presenting an unpleasant event. An example is avoiding a subject of conversation with a friend that you know will feel bad if you bring it up.

A punishment is an annoying consequence due to our acts. Its purpose is to reduce the likelihood that we will behave this way again. If we fail for studying at the last minute an important subject and we have to retake the test, it is quite possible that we try to improve our study habits and try to overcome procrastination.

Associative learning: Characteristics 

  •  Cognitive Processes are often overlooked: The main theorists of associative learning and their followers prefer to stick to observable events, such as behavior and the environment. Everything that is linked to cognitive processes remains relatively hidden and not analyzed by them.  
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  • It was investigated and explained by behaviorists: Behaviourism is one of the main focuses of psychology. Behaviorists discarded introspection to study this process. They were particularly concerned about achieving quantifiable results.
  • It is studied scientifically: The main theorists of associative learning worked laboratories under extremely rigorous conditions, relying especially on experiments with animals.
  • It is one of the bases in education: Rewards and punishments are often used while teaching. However, teaching is not the only profession that uses associative learning.

Associative learning: Applications

1. Examples of associative learning in the classroom

Associative learning in children has been and continues to be studied in depth. Teachers often use positive reinforcements such as putting star stickers on children who have behaved extraordinarily well. On the other hand, not reinforcing children who shout deliberately for attention or punish those who annoy their peers.

2. Examples of associative learning in therapy

There are several therapies based on associative learning. For example, systematic desensitization is a technique based on the principles of classical conditioning. It was created by Wolpe in 1958 and is used in therapy to reduce anxiety symptoms and avoidance behaviors manifested by people with problems such as phobias.
If a person feels an intense fear of heights (acrophobia), the psychologist can apply this technique. You will choose an answer that is incompatible with anxiety, such as relaxation. He will then ask his patient to imagine situations in which he progressively approaches the object of his fear.
The affected person should imagine their approach as clearly as possible and assess their anxiety. Meanwhile, you have to try to relax to be able to gradually face your phobia. Ultimately, the end of this procedure is for the patient to stop associating negative feelings with the object of his fear.

Systematic desensitization-Associative learning– Photo by SimplyPsychology.org

3. Day-to-day examples of associative learning

If you are listening to a particular song while telling you bad news, it is very likely that when you hear it again you immediately remember that event and how you felt.

When teenagers need to clean their rooms, parents almost always offer a reward or reinforcement in exchange. This is a perfect example of associative learning.

Examples of associative learning can be found in virtually every area of our lives.

Associative learning bias

Associative learning can also be viewed from a more cognitive approach. For example, it is possible to analyze cognitive biases (which are deviations in the usual process of reasoning) from this perspective. They originate when we associate one idea with another without adequately taking into account all relevant information.

For example, if a redhead steps on us by mistake in the subway and since then we consider that all redheads are clumsy, we will be acting under the effect of a cognitive bias. On the other hand, if we learn to blame ourselves for any negative events that take place, it is possible to give rise to biases so negative that they become cognitive distortions.

Associative learning: Authors

– Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

This reputed physiologist won a Nobel Prize in 1904 for his studies on the digestive secretions of dogs. We have previously commented on his experiment with animals.

– Edward Thorndike (1874-1949)

He was a famous psychologist dedicated to research on education and learning from an instrumental conditioning approach. He designed problem boxes to examine how cats managed to get out of them by trial and error. He also enunciated the law of effect, which states that behaviors that report benefits are more likely to remain.

– John B. Watson (1874-1958)

Watson was a behavioral psychologist firmly convinced that anyone can be trained successfully to behave in a certain way. In fact, he was the author, along with his assistant, Rosalie Rayner, of Little Albert’s experiment.

– Edwing Guthrie (1886-1959)

This philosopher dedicated to psychology did not believe that the reinforcements were absolutely essential for the conditioning to take place. Inspired by Pavlov, he argued that the connection between a stimulus and a response was established from the first time they happened together.

– Burrhus F. Skinner (1904-1990)

He was an influential behaviorist psychologist who developed the ideas of his predecessors. He created the Skinner boxes used to investigate operant conditioning. He also insisted heavily on focusing on observable behavior to achieve a totally scientific and rigorous psychology.

– Joseph Wolpe (1915-1997)

He is the creator of systematic desensitization, which we have explained previously. He felt that you can’t feel two opposing emotions at once. Therefore, their goal was to relax people to lessen their anxiety reactions and that way fear is unleashed.

Finally, we want to add that there are other explanations that seek to clarify how we learn such as meaningful learning, social learning theory, cognitive learning, etc. 

We invite you to look up these approaches as well since each one has a different way of looking at reality.  However, many also complement each other. In fact, associative learning theorists now contemplate new, more inclusive perspectives.

Thank you very much for reading this article. Do not hesitate to comment if you have any questions or if you want to share some experiences with us. We will be happy to answer all your questions.

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

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.

Rote Learning: Retaining Information Without Deepening Its Meaning

Do you remember when you learned to multiply? You repeat the same multiplication tables over and over. This is a technique called rote learning. Do you think this is a good learning method? In what cases do you think it can work? Do you often use rote learning? In this article we will delve into the characteristics of rote learning, its advantages and disadvantages, examples and also contrast with other types of learning. In addition, we will give you five tips to memorize.

Rote Learning

What is rote learning?

Learning is based on relatively stable changes in behavior or mind that take place through experience. There are several learning theories dedicated to exploring how our brain learns.

Rote learning is based on mentally retaining data through repetition without processing it carefully. The memorized contents are not understood and no attempt is made to analyze their meaning. It is just mere repetition, enough times until they are retained in our memory.

Memory is one of our basic cognitive processes. It helps us to encode, consolidate and retrieve data later. The interaction between memory and learning is essential both in our education and in all areas of our lives. However, it is also relevant that their relationship helps us process the data properly and progress in our development.

Rote Learning – Features

  • It is the most basic type of learning.
  • It’s mechanical.
  • The contents are arbitrarily related.
  • Retention data are usually stored in short-term memory.
  • The information is easily forgotten.
  • This type of learning is usually discouraged.

Rote learning – Examples

Rote learning in education

Rote learning is used quite a lot in school.  Generally, we remember repeating multiplication tables without understanding what we would do later with this information.

We also learned simple mathematical formulas and as many data related to numbers. However, it is not only used in math but also in other subjects. We used rote learning to learn the countries and their capitals, states, rivers, musical notes, elements of the periodic table, etc.

At university and even in working life, data are still retained without processing them in depth. This type of learning accompanies us throughout all the stages of our life.

Rote learning in everyday life

How did you learn your phone number, your partner’s birthday, your job address, social security number?

Rote learning helps us get throughout life without having to process everything we need at a certain point.

Rote learning

Rote Learning – Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of rote learning:

  • It helps us to retain important data like dates.
  • It’s a quick procedure.
  • It is relatively simple.

Disadvantages of rote learning:

  • It is easily forgotten.
  • It doesn’t allow us to examine the information in depth.
  • It doesn’t motivate us to continue learning data related to what we memorize.

Among students, it is quite common to take an exam relying on rote learning. However, when the question is relatively ambiguous or critical thinking is asked, the security of memorized information begins to fade.

Rote learning Vs Other Learning Types

Every situation requires different types of learning and each person uses their own learning methods.

1. Meaningful learning

Rote learning is closely linked to meaningful learning. David Ausubel was influenced by Piaget and developed the theory of meaningful learning. This theory maintains that we add content to the information we had previously. We adapt the data so that we can rank it and it can make sense for us.

Ausubel was a constructivist, this implies that he considered we are responsible for building our own reality and for our learning process. Meaningful learning contrasts sharply with memory, as it encourages people to learn, analyze and transform information to get new ideas.

Are rote learning and meaningful learning compatible?

We can imagine learning as a continuum at the ends of which are rote learning and meaningful learning on opposite sides. That is, it is possible to retain data using strategies relating to both types of procedures.

We can also consider rote learning as part of meaningful learning. In fact, both procedures can be complementary. Memory plays a vital role in learning. Even so, it is advisable to memorize the contents while trying to understand them.

For example, if we are trying to study US History, we are conscientiously reviewing each chapter and connecting it with experiences of our daily life, however, we will also need to memorize relevant dates to understand the historical context of the facts.

2. Associative learning

When this process occurs, we establish connections between two distinct stimuli. For example, it happens when we associate a certain smell with a certain person and we remember them every time we perceive a similar aroma.

3. Observational learning

Bandura’s theory of social learning explains how we acquire certain knowledge or behaviors through the situations we see. Still, he insists we are not robots. For example, if we live with people who speak very loudly, it is likely that we will also raise our voice.

4. Receptive learning

This type of learning is also passive, but it is not just about memorizing, it involves understanding the new information. A very common example is in classrooms when students simply listen to the teacher. Subsequently, the students reproduce the contents in the exam without internalizing their ideas or analyzing them personally.

5. Emotional learning

It is the one that helps us throughout our lives to understand and manage our own emotions. We practice emotional intelligence in situations such as patiently listening to a friend’s dilemmas or communicating how we feel at a given moment.

Rote Learning: 5 Tips to Memorize

Although it is advisable to acquire the necessary tools to know how to connect later the contents we learn with new ones, we can also benefit from rote learning for tasks such as remembering the names of our new co-workers. Find out five recommendations here to use rote learning effectively.

1. Organize information in blocks

George Miller, a cognitive psychologist, published an article called “The Magic Number Seven Plus Two” that dealt with the breadth of our short-term memory. 

According to Miller, we can retain five to nine data without grouping them together. On the other hand, if we divide them into groups (chunking), our ability to work with these elements will increase. For example, if we want to remember the list of purchases, we will find it useful to divide it into fruits, vegetables, cleaning products, etc.

2. Use mnemonic rules

The Loci Method is the oldest known mnemonic technique. It consists in associating visually the elements that we wish to remember to certain places. For example, if you want to remember what to have to say during a presentation, you can associate each part with a portion of your journey to work, and recite them. This way you will not forget the order and can relate to images you see constantly.

However, there are different modalities of mnemonic rules. It is also possible and useful to invent new words with the initials of the words we want to remember, to associate songs with sentences, etc.

3. Try to repeat out loud without making mistakes

Imagine your goal is to learn your new class schedule. Read the data you want to remember out loud as often as you need to. When you feel ready try to say it calmly.

Take it slowly and repeat them as many times as you need to since this is a matter of practice. 

4. Use color psychology

Each color transmits certain sensations and is commonly associated with very characteristic meanings. For example, red alerts us and reminds us of blood, love or suspense. On the other hand, white evokes tranquility, peace, and perfection (in our culture). You can take advantage of concepts related to colors to link them to the content that interests you.

5. Uses CogniFit

Neuroeducation is allowing amazing strides to be made in the field of learning. We can now benefit from clinical assessment tools and cognitive stimulation with which it is possible to easily detect our strengths and weaknesses at the cognitive level.

In fact, CogniFit is a leader in this field. It is an online platform that allows us to train our memory and other cognitive skills through entertaining and useful mental games. Challenge yourself, improve and train your memory!

Rote Learning

Thank you very much for reading this article. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment below.

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

Blended Learning: Why It’s Taking The Lead In Education

We have all used different methods of ‘blended learning’ models when being educated in our classrooms and trained in the workplace. Whether we realized it or not, blended learning has been incorporated in most institutions and companies through various technology platforms designed to enhance the learner’s needs since the term was coined in the late nineties. Learn more about blended learning in this full guide. 

Blended Learning

What is Blended Learning?

Although the term is quite ambiguous, it can extensively be defined as: ‘any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace’ (Blended Learning Universe, 2016). Children are born into this digital world and are already exposed and using technology as early as the age of 1. According to a study presented at the 2015 U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, more than one in three children have used a smartphone or tablet device before the age of one meaning that children today are more tech-savvy than ever before. The development of blended courses has been based on a strategy that encourages the use of technology along with face-to-face instruction. Studies predict that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be available and delivered online. The blended learning approach is flexible in presenting content, has proven potential to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of learning experiences, and is personalized making it easier for students to contribute and learn at their own pace. It is not surprising that blended learning methods

Children are born into this digital world and are already exposed and using technology as early as the age of 1. According to a study presented at the 2015 U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, more than one in three children have used a smartphone or tablet device before the age of one meaning that children today are more tech-savvy than ever before.

The development of blended courses has been based on a strategy that encourages the use of technology along with face-to-face instruction. Studies predict that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be available and delivered online. The blended learning approach is flexible in presenting content, has proven potential to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of learning experiences, and is personalized making it easier for students to contribute and learn at their own pace. It is not surprising that blended learning methods are benefiting as an integrated learning experience throughout the U.S.

Horn and Staker (2015) define Blended Learning as “…any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”

The approach of blended learning is to utilize the use of technology in the classroom to optimize student education through online and face-to-face interaction. The usage of blended learning gives us an opportunity to reform the traditional school model and to express student-centered learning.

How does Blended Learning Work? What is being ‘Blended?’

When educators implement a new learning program, it is important to recognize the learners’ needs and abilities in order to make learning a meaningful and emotional experience.The complexity of our neural networks allows us to have unique individual preferences and learning styles. Blended Learning can be applied right in the traditional setting of a classroom.

Depending on the teacher, different models are used to support the use of technology to expand learning materials and discussion both inside and outside of the classroom. A true ‘blend’ of instruction uses elements that help students and teachers communicate inside and outside of the classroom. Using digital tools for learning such as Google Docs and Word do not necessarily apply to this method.

Instead, blended learning is an integrated learning experience that provides modules to blend the course of study with a teacher being active in the process. An example would be students attending class face-to-face and then go home to have a virtual meeting lecture on the computer and coming back the next day to discuss everything in small groups during a lab.

There is almost always a type of tracking system implemented on the site to track students’ progress. Sometimes it is easy to confuse the blended learning method with a “technology-rich” classroom. Both share the usage of technology and digital tools but are certainly not the same thing. Teachers using only digital textbooks, learning apps, online lesson plans, and Google Docs do not qualify as the blended learning curricula. Students must have some type of control at their own pace for individualized learning. Presently, blended learning does not have one main authority definition. The combination of intellectual methods are made up of information technology, video conferences, and the use of online activities and learning support systems such as self-paced lessons.

Six common models being used today are explained below.

What are the Types of Blended Learning Models?

There are six standard models of blended learning used for teachers. Three models address the different cognitive and social-emotional abilities of students. The six types are identified as:

  • Face-to-Face Driver is represented as the most traditional by having a physical teacher present or to employ online learning.
  • Rotation means that students will alternate between self-paced online learning and being in the classroom with a teacher. This model includes four sub-models: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, and Individual Rotation. In the ‘flipping’ method, professors and teachers use online media to deliver lectures, notes, and feedback. Students can study and review the material at their own pace. The model is implemented with a student-centered perspective which allows students to learn individually.
  • Flex is the online platform used.
  • Online Lab delivers the course in a brick-and-mortar (traditional) setting.
  • Self-Blend model, more commonly known as A La Carte, gives students the freedom to choose remote online courses to supplement their school’s curriculum with something that is more individual. The students can take multiple courses either entirely online at home or in a regular classroom.
  • Online Driver program is also known as Enriched Virtual is used completely online where students can divide their time between a traditional classroom and at home. Unlike the Flipped classroom, the Online Driver does not require daily school attendance. Teachers can apply their programs to have available or mandatory face-to-face check-ins. The Enriched Virtual program is a complete blend of online and brick-and-mortar classroom sessions.

How Does Blended Learning Differ from Traditional Learning?

The rise of blended learning programs represents a shift from traditional instruction in education to optimize student learning in multiple ways. The mixture of this learning experience has allowed learners to recall information so that it can be remembered and combined with new knowledge bases.

Personalized learning is excellent for students who feel lost and overwhelmed in the classroom. The old brick-and-mortar classroom with students learning from one textbook is long, long gone. Blended learning methods help students learn at their own cognitive level of functioning. The Face-to-Face Driver model works best in all classrooms since most students are functioning at different levels of ability. Teachers deliver this model appropriately by allowing a traditional classroom experience and integrating technology. Students who do not feel confident in their work can access the course from home and study at their own pace while students who have mastered the subject can practice and challenge themselves more effectively.

The Rotation model is the most common and allows teachers to switch instructing online and physically face-to-face. Students can be separated based on skill level such as starting instruction in-person before rotating online. More individual assistance is also given to students feeling left behind on a topic. Another model that is viewed as highly successful is the Online Lab school model. It involves students going to a physical classroom that only provides online educational delivery for its courses. The Online Lab is flexible and benefits students who have other responsibilities either at home or they need to move at a much slower pace than traditional classrooms provide. One of the main goals of a blended classroom involves the mission to capture the learners’ attention.

Many instructors design their teaching to acquire the use of both long-term memory and short-term/working memory. Working/short-term memory has to do with what you are actively doing at the moment and temporarily storing information, such as solving math problems.  Long-term memory helps us remember rules and knowledge that is ‘declared.’ An example of declared memory would be having the order of operations memorized. In virtual classrooms, instructors must make sure there is harmony between working and long-term memory. An information overload in a blended approach can cause anxiety and stress. It is important for instructors to design their programs with a few facts in mind:

  • Humans have a working memory limited to five to seven ‘chunks’ of information
  • Humans must have their attention refreshed frequently
  • Recalling information requires more cognitive effort than recognizing information (Marchionini, 1991)

Teachers can add more drop-down menus, touch panels, and clearly marked buttons to put the students’ minds at ease. More information on some challenges of blended learning can be found in the Research in Learning Technology journal. E-learning specialists are taking neuroscience into consideration when developing visual aids for learning. According to Zabisco, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. When learners are connecting with the content, they are going through a cognitive retention process. The medial temporal lobe, where emotions are processed, is also where visual memory is encoded. Students will have a better chance at remembering when text is combined with visual stimuli.

Students can also develop stronger social-emotional learning (SEL) skills when interacting in a blended program. SEL skills are linked to technology use since students can first develop self-awareness and responsibility online to work better in teams when in person. Aside from the traditional objectives in school systems, the new integration of technology and teaching helps bring teachers and students closer together and establish higher quality learning.

How are Blended Learning Environments Created?

Educators should first seek out different strategies to use when designing which type of content would fit best in their classroom. They can use different frameworks such as Content Domain Analysis and Content Level Analysis before going about choosing their blended learning approach. Content Domain Analysis determines the main objectives of the content. It is necessary when it addresses the learners’ needs emotionally, cognitively, and physically. Content Level Analysis is used to clarify the sequence to achieve overall learning goals. One study that consisted of using a blended learning platform (video game-based learning) composed of classroom and e-learning, found that knowledge was increased 14% for procedural and 11% for declarative knowledge (Sitzmann, Ely, 2009).

Declarative knowledge refers to factual knowledge and information that a person knows. Procedural knowledge, on the other hand, has to do with knowing how to perform certain activities (Bruning, 46). These two types of knowledge are useful for determining how to blend face-to-face and self-paced learning courses. An example would be using self-paced and e-learning for developing declarative knowledge while having face-to-face instruction in small groups for procedural knowledge. That way, students can expand on their ‘factual’ knowledge and perform what they have learned with other students and instructors in a classroom lab. Margaret Driscoll (2002) believes that the blended learning paradigm consists of four concepts: combining a variety of networking technologies, self-paced learning, collaborative learning, and streaming videos. The teaching methods used should incorporate many types of psychologyconstructivism, behaviorism, and cognitivism. In order to produce the best outcome, the combination of the blended techniques (web-based, film) with face-to-face training followed by students completing an actual task in-person, can equally create a balance between learning and working.

Blended Learning: A Student-Centered Education

Over the past decade, educators in both secondary and higher educational institutions have realized that students all differ in skill sets and learning abilities. The Whole Child Approach (2014) ensures that each child will be treated as a whole with their socio-emotional, physical, creative, and cognitive capacities being just as important in their overall educational growth. In order to see where a student’s skills lie on the spectrum, a cognitive profile screening can be implemented before selecting the appropriate learning model. Children can be screened at a young age so that their personal learning abilities can be catered to. Developing a blended learning approach in all educational institutions is one step in the right direction to help every child succeed. The models also build upon Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) by selecting strategies to trigger the strength of the students’ multiple learning preferences.

The blended learning paradigm of e-learning with a person-centered approach aims to achieve social and personal development by combining online instruction and face-to-face encounters. Student-centered learning brings out the best in a person’s cognitive functioning. Studies show that it can help with better problem-solving, increased self-confidence, and improve interpersonal skills. Person-Centered Learning was developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987) to address the learner’s intellect, social skills, and personality.

One study targeted the fundamental impact of interpersonal attitudes on the motivation and learning outcomes of students. The study suggested that a blended learning paradigm in which there is room for social and personal processes leads to improved learning only if instructors are perceived as personally well equipped to fill this space (Pitrik & Mallich, 2004). From a perspective of learners, blended learning can be obtained from all options of equipment, tools, media, technology, etc. to match their previous knowledge and learning style to reach current learning objectives.

Blended Learning in the Workplace

There are many advantages to applying blended learning approaches in corporate settings. Face-to-Face instruction and using technology hands-on offers employees a customized training experience. This method allowed employers to track performance goals and concentrate on what skills need further development.

Employees can work on their training off-the-clock to catch up on certain things they need to know for their job duties and reduce job stress. Guides such as tutorials, online forums, and customer-based simulations are all great examples of types of blended learning approaches in the workplace. Organizational learning programs can build employees’ confidence level to improve their job performance and benefit their teamwork skills. In 2015, a Training Magazine learning survey reported that 31.9% of all training was delivered in a blended format. Employees should be encouraged to work on specific skills needed in their workplace.

Companies can help fill skill gaps by determining which eLearning curriculum is needed. An example would be a person working on his or her communication skills at in a web-based seminar that depicts eLearning characters with different personalities. Collaborative activities are also becoming popular to improve teamwork skills.

Blended Learning: The New Future of Education 

A one-size-fits-all educational model does not exist, however, blended and hybrid classrooms are shown to be more effective than traditional teaching methods. While students are becoming more digitally-orientated, educational institutions should be using this as an advantage to further students’ educational success.

A successful classroom includes a range of meaningful activities, assessments, and methods used for the sole purpose of giving every student chance to excel at their best abilities. The elements that make blended approaches so effective are using multiple technology tools, small group work, and freedom of choice. In this study by the Christensen Institute, education researchers said that 4 million elementary through high school student participated in online learning in 2010. The statistics have only shown an increase since then.

Technology and education go hand in hand when teaching and improving cognitive abilities. CogniFit’s brain training program allows not only for students and anyone to train cognitive processes but allow for teachers to keep track of their students through our education platform for school and teachers.

CogniFit- Blended Learning

There must be more blended learning research to gain insight on how it is making an impact through the years. Educators will continue to invent new methodologies for personalized learning models by collaborating our knowledge of individualism with our digital culture.

1. Which isn't one of the four sub-models of Rotation?
  • Hint: Look at flow chart!

References

Ark, T. V. (2016, April 27). Blended, Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning at Thrive Public Schools. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2016/04/blended_project-based_and_social_emotional_learning_at_thrive_public_schools.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news3

Assisi, N. (2014, November 24). The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in K-12 Education. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://nextgenlearning.org/blog/importance-social-emotional-learning-k-12-education

Bruning, R. H. (2010). Cognitive Psychology and Instruction (5th ed.). Pearson.

Draffan, E. A., & Rainger, P. (2006). A model for the identification of challenges to blended learning. Research in Learning Technology, 14(1), 55-67. doi: 10.1080/09687760500479787

Marchionini, G. (1991, October). Psychological Dimensions of User-Computer Interfaces. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://www.ericdigests.org/1992-5/user.htm

Mylavarapu, L. (2016, September 30). The Power Visualization Adds to E-learning. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.elearninglearning.com/blended-learning/cognitive/?open-article-id=5625428&article-title=the-power-visualization-adds-to-e-learning&blog-domain=commlabindia.com&blog-title=commlab-india

Staker, H. (2011). The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models. Innosight Institute.

Willen, L. (2014, May 12). The Learning Accelerator on blended learning: `In the future, we’ll just call it learning’. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://digital.hechingerreport.org/content/learning-accelerator-blended-learning-future-well-just-call-learning_1462/

Learning foreign languages triggers brain growth

Learning foreign languages triggers brain growth.

In the Swedish Academy of young translators, new recruits study a crash course in complex languages. It is not only about military discipline: specialists discovered that intensive study of foreign tongues stimulates the growth of the hippocampus and causes changes in other structures of the brain. Learning languages also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.