Types of Learning
Content refers to facts, ideas, concepts, theories and principles that constitute the knowledge base of the discipline.
Intellectual skills refer to the ways of thinking and problem-solving used by professionals in a field. A general intellectual skill that is important to all fields of study is critical thinking. Examples of discipline-specific intellectual skills include : critically evaluating facts and ideas, distinguishing between an opinion and an argument, critically evaluating sources, generating hypotheses, designing experiments, constructing an argument, and drawing conclusions based on evidence.
Attitudes and Values
Attitudes and values refer to a set of beliefs that guide our actions as individuals and professionals in our fields. Examples include: ethical decision-making, tolerance, openness to failure, academic and professional integrity, and respect for culturally different worldviews/perspectives. Learners might merely become aware of an important value or fully internalize it.
Interpersonal & Professional Skills
Interpersonal and professional skills are skills that are important for personal and professional growth and success. Examples include: effective communication, public speaking, teamwork, conflict resolution and receiving and giving feedback.
Psychomotor/physical skills are physical manipulation skills used in labs or during field settings. Examples include: operating various pieces of equipment in the lab, conducting experiments, and transcribing research data. Psychomotor skills usually have an intellectual component since they require knowledge of steps involved in performing a task and how and when to use them.
During the process of learning, students may experience a variety of cognitive, motivational or affective challenges that affect their learning. In the “Our Students as Learners” section, we will focus on how these aspects impact the learning process.
The three areas are interrelated, and many challenges students face during learning stem from an interaction of cognitive, motivational/affective and social factors. Students will enter the classroom with prior knowledge/experiences and learning strategies, and this, combined with experiences in the current course/classroom dynamics, may affect their motivation to learn.
Identifying the Problem
As an instructor, one of the first steps to supporting student learning is identifying the instructional challenges that can arise when students are learning the content and developing intellectual skills needed in their disciplines. Keeping the course you identified above in mind, you will now complete the Instructional Challenges Inventory. You will rate instructional challenges in your class on a scale ranging from “not a problem” to “a big problem”.
Upon completion of the inventory, take a few moments to identify the “big problems” students experience in your course.
Research on Student Learning: Cognitive Factors
Cognitive aspects of learning refer to thinking processes and mental procedures involved in the learning process. Cognitive factors that influence learning range from basic learning processes, such as memorizing facts or information, to higher-level processes, such as understanding, application, analysis and evaluation. An important cognitive aspect of learning, that can hinder or facilitate learning, is prior knowledge and prior learning experience of students.