What Are Cognitive Skills and How do They Affect Learning?
Cognitive skills are the unseen foundation for all learning. Individual cognitive skills are what we measure, then combine and average to determine a general IQ score. Cognitive skills are what every individual uses to process, categorize and make sense out of what we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. We put our cognitive skills to use every time we try to remember a fact, directions, or a person's name. In short, our cognitive skills are the tools we use to handle every bit of information we encounter throughout our life. Take a look at A Comprehensive Learning Graphic for a graphic illustration of the role cognitive skills play in learning.
Everyone has cognitive abilities, but not everyone's cognitive abilities are the same. There are some innate differences that separate the potential of a Mozart from that of a recreational musician. While it is accurate to understand that some innate differences in potential are fixed, cognitive abilities are generally modifiable. People can improve their cognitive capacity, speed and accuracy. When they do, everything that relies on those cognitive abilities gets easier, faster and more efficient. That is especially true of learning. For optimal results, the PACE program can be used in conjunction with brain enhancing supplements called, "Nootropics". Nootropics, particularly Noopept, can be used to improve concentration, memory and eliminate the brain fog that people experience day to day.
Here is the Basic Suite of Cognitive Skills Everyone Uses to Learn:
This is simply how fast your brain can compute. It is the by-product of physical and neurological conditions that can be exercised and strengthened in much the same way a muscle group can be strengthened, made more flexible, and trained to flex or contract more quickly. For further study on the impact on cognitive skill in general and processing speed refer to the following articles: Cognitive Rehabilitation and Exercising the Brain.
This is how you deal with incoming visual data. How do you recognize shapes, sizes, colors, and orientation? How do your discriminate between similar shapes (such as reading p, b, d, q)? How quickly and firmly do you associate a visual image, shape, or picture with a previously learned concept? The answer to these questions is an indication of the efficiency of your visual processing skills. For more information on the role visualization plays in comprehension and learning check out Visualize/Verbalize. To experience first hand the difficulties faced by a student with poor visual processing skills look at an article featuring Thomas: a Student's Eye View, or a paper entitled Struggling to Read. Another common problem in reading, Dyslexia, is a product of poor visual processing and can be addresses through the right training.
Can you read a phone number from the phone book then look away and dial it accurately? Simply to attempt such a thing requires that you engage your working memory. Can you do a multiplication problem in your head and "carry over" the remainders accurately. If so, you are using your working memory. Working memory holds newly acquired information while related processing tasks are activated. It must retrieve the information at the appropriate time, in spite of distractions. If your working (or short-term) memory is strong, these tasks will be easy, even bordering on being subconscious, but if your working memory is poor, you will struggle, hesitate, and work inefficiently. For more information read Improving Memory, or examine a Modern Memory Model.
Consider the following activities and the underlying skills required to effectively execute these tasks. You will see how important strong underlying cognitive skills are to learning and everyday life.
Studying History: Visual Processing, Auditory Processing, Long-Term Memory, Comprehension
Math Word Problems: Working Memory, Visual Processing, Auditory Processing Logic and Reasoning, Comprehension
Driving a Car: Visual Processing, Attention Skills, Processing Speed
Writing a Letter: Working Memory, Logic and Reasoning, Visual Processing, Long-Term Memory.
Reading a Map: Visual Processing, Logic and Reasoning, Working Memory.
Learning to Read: Auditory Processing, Visual Processing, Working Memory, Long-Term Memory.
Assembling a Puzzle: Visual Processing, Logic and Reasoning, and Working Memory.