Learning is the process through which knowledge is acquired for the purpose of human development or the modification of previously acquired knowledge that is expressed in human behaviour or life skills (Terry, 2006, p.35).Human beings are endowed with ability to learn because of their highly developed brains. The learning process takes time and involves addition of new information to the already existing one. Learning may take place under several situations motivated by different factors. This may include learning for the purpose of getting an education, training in a certain field of expertise or as a way of developing oneself intellectually or spiritually. Acquisition of knowledge through learning may take place through formation of habits or through formal instruction as in the case of schools and other institutions of learning (Terry, 2006, p.38). In learning, cognition plays a very important role. Cognition is the ability of the mind to process information and apply acquired knowledge in the processes of decision making and problem solving. These are vital processes in learning.
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A change in behaviour as a result of personal experiences is considered a way of learning. This may involve several variations. The behaviour may elicit a reward or a punishment depending on whether it is positive or negative (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009, p.56). A reward reinforces the behaviour and increases chances of its repetition and adoption while punishment decreases the possibility of its repetition and adoption as a part of an individual’s character. It may also be developed from conditioning in which case a certain stimulus brings about a reflex response. Behaviour may be directly linked to experiences which are a great source of knowledge hence important in learning (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009, p.57).
Learning may take place in different ways and all involve the active participation of the learner. Two types of learning include visual learning and auditory learning. In both types the learner uses his senses to receive information (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009, p.66). They are used by different types of learners because any given learner uses a specific sense for learning more than others. Visual learning is a type of learning that involves the use images to pass on information and ideas to the learner. These images include diagrams, maps, drawings, pictures and videos. Learners who prefer this method of learning find it necessary to form mental images of the information they receive in order to retain it. This type of learning is highly effective because learners can use the images to take in more information compared to other types of learning. This type of learning saves more time than others. Auditory learning is a type of learning that involves acquisition of information through listening. Its effectiveness depends on the speaking and listening ability of the learner. Auditory learners possess well developed auditory skills and contrary to visual learners who think in images, they present their information in words. The type of learning preferred by a learner depends on which sense is most developed (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2009, p.66).
There is a very close relationship between learning and cognition. Learning results in cognition considering that cognition involves different processes of the mind that process and analyze the information acquired through different types of learning. Cognition involves processing the information received in the learning process and also the application of the acquired knowledge (Baars & Gage, 2007, p.67). For example learning through multimedia presentations requires the student to absorb the information presented, process and analyze it. Cognition is applied in processing received information since the information has to be encoded and analyzed for ease of recalling (Terry, 2006, p.46).
- Baars, B. J. & Gage, N. M. (2007). Cognition, Brain, and Consciousness: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience. London: Elsevier Ltd
- Olson, M. H. & Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An Introduction to Theories of Learning (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
- Terry, W. S. (2006). Learning and Memory: Basic Principles, Processes, and Procedures. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.