Cognitive learning Theories

Subject: Health Care
Type: Expository Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1034
Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Health, Nursing

Learning theories form the basic guide in the planning of the educational systems in clinical training such as nursing and within the classroom. Trainers through comprehension of the underlying principles of the theories can deliver their knowledge in an efficient manner. The learning theories capitalize on personal means of learning. Cognitive learning exemplifies the importance of the intrinsic processes of a learner (Wasserman & Wasserman, 2017). The cognitive learning theory comprises various aspects such as data processing, concept mapping, Gestalt, self-efficacy, meaningful learning, self-regulation and exploration methods. This research provides a detailed explanation of cognitive learning theories advantages and disadvantages as well as the instructional technology for applying the theoretical principles.

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Cognitive Learning theory explained

From the facts underlined above cognitive learning theory is a wide concept elucidating diverse mental processes like thinking and how they are affected by intrinsic and extrinsic factors so that people can learn. According to Bastable (2014), proper working of the cognitive progressions translates to the proper acquisition and ultimately storage of knowledge. However, ineffective cognitive processes lead to delays in learning. The cognitive practices include observations, classification and ultimately generalization on the environment. The theories illustrate the power of the brain in information networking, processing as well as interpretation. The theories can be classified into the cognitive theory of behavior and social cognitive theory. Three variables are factored in social cognitive learning theory including personal, environmental and behavioral factors interlinked in turn affecting learning. The personal experience of a person may converge with environmental elements and behavioral determinants. In the environment-individual interface, the extrinsic features like hot climate, supportive guardian and stressful surrounding modify the cognitive competencies, ideas and also the individual beliefs. In the behavior-person interaction, an individual’s behaviors are affected by the cognitive practices eventually modifying human thinking. The behavior-environment communication alters behavioral display through the external factors. Interchangeably individual behavior can shape the environment. For positive and efficient learning to take place people should portray positive individual traits, exude the rightful behavior and struggle to be in a supportive surrounding. The basic concepts of the social cognitive theory have several fundamental principles including the capacity for self-regulation, emotional adaptation, reproduction, and self-efficacy. Cognitive theory on behavior highlights the role of cognition in speculating the behavioral pattern of a person. People develop negative and positive self-concepts, which influence their displayed behavior. Additionally, the theory illustrates learning as well as human behavior through the use of a cognitive triad. The triad encapsulates negative thoughts regarding the future, the self and the environment (Sincero, 2017).

Role of the faculty

The faculty ensures that the nursing students comply with the occupational mindset fostering respect and acceptance for diverse means of thinking (In Bradshaw and In Hultquist, 2017). Moreover, the faculty ensures that nurses understand concept mapping in a metacognitive model so that their learning, exploration methods can improve. Improvement of cognitive learning boosts the confidence of the nurses.

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Role of the student

Through self-efficacy, a nursing student easily acquires and applies knowledge in developing and also improving the professional and scientific methods (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010). Applying the Gestalt concepts a nursing student comfortably provides education and cares to the patients and gradually improves discipline, balance and mental organization skewed by the desires of the patient.

Advantages of Cognitive learning theories

The role of cognitive learning theories has gained popularity as an effective treatment method for their ease of practical application and its heavy reliance on experiments as an integral method of research. The theory highlights the thought processes of individuals. The cognitive theory examines the intrinsic factors in trying to comprehend the reaction of the brain towards stimuli. Cognitive theory illustrates the impact of cognition on behavior and this is useful in improving behavior. The other advantage is that the theory can work together with other approaches in developing a therapy that will lead to the realization of the desired results (Gaberson and Oermann, 2010). Therapy cognitive behavior is a good example that combines behavioral and cognitive approaches important in addressing anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder among others.

Disadvantages of cognitive learning theories

Despite being favorite amongst psychologists, cognitive learning theory has its weaknesses. Cognitive theory tends to dismiss fundamental features of the individual behavior. Other factors such as genes, biological structures, individual experiences and chemical imbalances, that impact on the behavior of people, are not considered by the cognitive learning theory. Ignorance of other factors that inform human behavior may lead to generalities with regards to the human behavior and this does not auger well with the ideologies of human beings being unique. Moreover, cognitive learning theory if founded on experiments that are controlled. The experiments may not be as valid as they may appear since psychologists only receive responses closely linked to stimuli of the subjects. The psychologists do not examine how the subjects react to different stimuli in the real world. Another main disadvantage is that cognitive learning theory draws from cognitive processes that are not observed directly. Cognitive learning theory highly relies on inference (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010).

Instructional Strategies/Technology to apply theoretical concepts

Instructional technology structure the instructional approaches in direct application towards the learning environment. The strategies are prescriptive offering the instructor with an implementation plan. However, the strategies should be flexible to house the dynamics of the learning environment. The appropriate strategies for applying the theoretical cognitive learning theory concepts include learning by design and cognitive apprenticeship. Other strategies include learning based on projects, constructionism, instruction that is based on the problem, cooperative learning and also learning based on cases (Leonard, Noh, & Orey, 2008).

From the aforesaid, it is clear that learning theories provide a general explanation of individual learning. The cognitive learning theory has wide application in nursing curriculum development, educational psychology, and instructional methodology. Relative to other learning theories cognitive theories are deemed reductionist since it attributes sophisticated individual behavior to easier cognitive processes. Nursing has undergone enormous changes forcing the nursing students to handle their patients with diverse pathologies, underlying and chronic diseases. In order to achieve the required performance, nurses need metacognitive and cognitive skills. The educational application of cognitive learning includes training new skills and behaviors, increasing the independence of patients and model orientation.

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  1. Bastable, S. B. (2014). Nurse as educator: Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  2. Gaberson, K. B., & Oermann, M. H. (2010). Clinical teaching strategies in nursing. New York: Springer Pub.
  3. In Bradshaw, M. J., & In Hultquist, B. L. (2017). Innovative teaching strategies in nursing and related health professions.
  4. Leonard, K, Noh, E, K, & Orey, M. (2008). Learning theories and instructional strategies. Online. Retrieved from
  5. Sincero, S, M. (2017). Cognitive learning theory. Online. Retrieved from
  6. Wasserman, T., & Wasserman, L. D. (2017). Neurocognitive Learning Therapy. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
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