Cognitive orientation to learning

While the behavioural orientation dwelt on the environment, the cognitive one looked at the learner’s mental process; it is concerned with cognition, which is the process of knowing. It recognises the importance of the environment while at the same time exploring changes in the inner cognitive organization. James Hartley (1998) identified some important principles of learning related to cognitive psychology.

The principles identified are as follows: proper organisation of instruction, clear structure of instruction, use of perceptual features of the task, importance of prior knowledge of the subject, the view that differences between individuals affect learning, and use of cognitive feedback to inform the learners about their failure or success.

Humanistic orientation to learning This orientation was developed in the 1970s and 80s, and concerns itself mainly with the human potential for growth.

Learning is seen as a form of self actualisation, contributing to psychological health (Caffalerra, 1991). Although self-actualization is perceived as the principal goal, other goals related to other stages are also present, including accomplishment of impulses (Maslow, 1970).

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The best insight into the humanistic orientation to learning was done by Carl Rodgers (2003), who stressed on education with the whole person and with their experiences, intellect and feelings.

Some of the important elements involved in experimental or significant learning are as follows. It involves personal involvement, it is self-initiated, pervasive, evaluated by the learner and its essence is meaning. Social orientation to learning According to this orientation, people learn by observation of others in a social setting (Merriam and Caffarella, 1991). However, observation does not allow the learners to see the outcome of the other people’s behaviour in order to have some idea of what might happen when one acts in a certain way.

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This orientation concentrates on attending to behaviour and rehearsing on how it might work in various situations. In this model, behaviour is as a result of the interaction of the learner with the environment. Instead of looking at learning as acquiring some forms of knowledge, this model also incorporates social relationships, which are situations of joint participation. According to Tenant (1977), this model has the advantage of paying attention to the need of understanding knowledge and learning in context.

The model is limited by the fact that learning that is unrelated to the life situation or context. Moreover, situations can arise where the community of practice has power relationships exhibiting participation and entry (Wenger, 1999). Part Two Learning and development supports and enhances organisational development Any form of learning, training and development is aimed at improving the learners as well as their performance, leading to organisational development.

Organisational development is not just concerned with sending people to course to get trained. On the contrary, it is about encouraging people to examine and challenge any assumptions acting as a filter for learning. Learning is usually motivated by the need to arrive at solutions to problems, whether one wants to move away from a particular state; such as conflict, lack of team collaboration and lack of skill, or wants to achieve greater satisfaction personally or within an organisational setting.

Learning has been described by organisations as the only competitive advantage that any organisation may have, since it responds to the ever unpredictable and dynamic business environment. Learning in organisations enables the organisations to make proper use of the immense mental capacity of its members, creating the type of process needed to improve it (Dixon, 1994). An organization that encourages its members to learn eventually ends up improving and transforming itself for the better.

Moreover, organisations where their members continuously expand their capacity in creating the outcomes they really desire, where fresh and wider thinking patterns are nurtured; where joint aspirations are set free and people learn together develop greatly. For an organization to have sustainable development, it must be adaptive to its external environment, continually enhance its capacity to adapt, develop individual and joint learning, and use learning to attain even better results. The learning organisation

There is a growing interest in organizations to develop a learning culture within themselves in order to improve their existing products and services and for innovation purposes. This has led to a number of initiatives such as Total Quality Management, TQM and Business Process Reengineering, BPR. Companies have come to the realisation that their success or failure greatly depends on human factors such as organisational culture, attitudes and skills. It also appears that the implementation of organizational programs is geared to highly specified procedures that are defined for foreseen situations.

These organisations have further recognised that any initiatives do not usually work by themselves and something extra is required. This is in order to cope with quick and unanticipated changes where existing programmed responses are not adequate in order to provide the necessary flexibility to deal with dynamically changing conditions, and allow top management to respond with initiatives based on customer needs as opposed to being limited by business processes established for different situations.

Organisations have increasingly had to among other things develop capacities for the fast-paced innovation to develop capacity and learn to appreciate change. As the competitive atmosphere becomes increasingly variegate and complex, these organisations have seen the need for greater genetic variety; a wider variety of managerial thinking, and a more enhanced repertoire of management actions. Top and successful organisations have reached such heights by organising around people and honouring the need to recognition, lifelong learning, challenge, something to believe in and a feeling of control.

With the pace of change ever getting faster, organisations have seen the need for developing mechanisms to help in innovation and continuous learning better than ever before (Dixon, 1994). Learning in an organisation is about development of higher levels of skills and knowledge as opposed to more training, and is classified into four levels. The first level involves learning of facts, procedures, processes and knowledge and mostly applies to known situations that have very minor changes.

The second level entails learning new job skills that can be transferred to other situations (Easterby-Smith et al, 1999). This is often applicable to situations whose existing responses need changing. Outside experts can be very useful at this stage since they bring in fresh expertise and skills that may have been lacking initially (Dixon, 1994). The third level is all about learning to adapt, and is often applicable to more dynamic circumstances where solutions need development. Here, the mode of learning is experimenting and deriving lessons from past failures and successes (Easterby-Smith et al, 1999).

Finally, the fourth level is learning to learn, which involves creativity and innovation; design of the future as opposed to just adapting to it. Here, knowledge is reframed and all assumptions challenged. Additionally, the model is applicable at various levels that include learning of individuals, organisations and teams. Organisations achieving learning level four will not only reinvent their organization but also their entire industry (Easterby-Smith et al, 1999). Conclusion Learning greatly helps in improving both individual and organizational innovativeness and efficiency.

There are numerous learning models applicable to various situations, all of which have their unique advantages and disadvantages. The adoption of a particular learning model entirely depends on the prevailing conditions. Organisations are striving to continually improve their performance as well as the quality of their products and services. From the analysis above, it is evident that indeed learning and development supports and enhances organisational development.

References Bruner, J (1977) The Process of Education, Harvard University Press, CambridgeDixon, N (1994) The Organizational Learning Cycle, McGraw-Hill Easterby-Smith, M et al (1999) Organizational Learning and the Learning Organization-Developments in Theory and Practice, Sage Hartley, J (1998) Learning and Studying-A research perspective, Routledge, London Maslow, A (1970) Motivation and Personality 2nd edition, Harper and Row, New York Merriam, S and Caffarella (1998) Learning in Adulthood, A comprehensive guide, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco Rogers, C and Freiberg, H (2003) Freedom to Learn, Merrill, New York

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Cognitive orientation to learning. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from

Cognitive orientation to learning

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