The Twelve Cognitive Processes that Underlie Learning

So many people are thinking, talking, reading, writing and working towards 21st Century Skills, from what I can see most of them are not librarians and libraries don’t figure into their projections or plans. While I am heartened to see so many groups thinking about our problems, I’m discouraged at the lack of a role for libraries, whether school, public or academic.

I recently came across another group working to ensure students acquires the skills necessary for to be successful citizens in today’s world. Engines for Education was founded by Roger Schank who writes at Education Outrage

Dr. Schank was the Founder of the renowned Institute for the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, where he is John P. Evans Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, Education and Psychology. He was Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at Yale University and Director of the Yale Artificial Intelligence Project. He was a visiting professor at the University of Paris VII, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Linguistics at Stanford University and research fellow at the Institute for Semantics and Cognition in Switzerland. He also served as the Distinguished Career Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a fellow of the AAAI and was founder of the Cognitive Science Society and co-founder of the Journal of Cognitive Science. He holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from University of Texas.

From Engines for Education (emphasis added by me)

The following cognitive skills are developed gradually over time. This is the stuff that we need to learn how to do in order to function well in the world. . The more proficient you are at these skills, the smarter you appear and the more you can learn:

Conceptual Processes

1. Prediction: Making a prediction about the outcome of actions
2. Modeling: Building a conscious model of a process
3. Experimentation: Finding out for oneself what works and what doesn’t
4. Evaluation: Improving our ability to determine the value of something on many different dimensions

Analytic Processes

5. Diagnosis: Making a diagnosis of a complex situation by identifying relevant factors and seeking causal explanations
6. Planning: Learning to plan and do needs analysis as well as acquiring a conscious and subconscious understanding of what goals are satisfied by what plans
7. Causation: Detecting what has caused a sequence of events to occur by relying upon a case base of previous knowledge of similar situations
8. Judgment: Making an objective judgment

Social Processes

9. Influence: Understanding how others respond to your requests and recognizing consciously and unconsciously how to improve the process
10. Teamwork: Learning how to achieve goals by using a team, consciously allocating roles, managing inputs from others, coordinating actors, and handling conflicts; managing operations using a model of processes and handling real time issues
11. Negotiation: Making a deal; negotiation/contracts; resolving goal conflicts
12. Describing: Creating conscious descriptions of situations to explain them to others in writing and orally

One’s intelligence is typically judged by others in relation to one’s proficiency at five of these cognitive skills:

  • Prediction
  • Diagnosis
  • Causation
  • Describing
  • Planning
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