4 steps to achieve successful Cognitive Learning

Published by Preethi B. Rao

I recently saw a video published by a colleague, Surya Prakash Mohapatra – Global Head-Talent Transformation at Wipro BPS – on the impact of Neuroscience in Learning. In the video, he mentioned that the job of a learning practitioner is to excite the brain and make learners want to learn. I couldn’t agree more!

Among other things, he also spoke about the cognitive learning process and the four steps involved in it. Here they are:

  1. Gathering information – Collecting information employing all sensory cortices – sight, sound, smell, touch and sometimes taste
  2. Reflecting – Forming new insights and ideas by analyzing the information we gather and creating associations to things we already know
  3. Creating new ideas – Using the information we gathered and the associations we make, we form our own methodologies and frameworks
  4. Testing the plan – During this step, we go out there and apply the plan we have created. This is called active testing. The more we test and practice these new ideas, the more they get established in our brains and new tasks are then undertaken more effortlessly.

While I was watching the video, my brain started associating the four steps with the tools and practices we employ at C2C-OD. These tools create ample opportunities for learners to follow the four steps. Here is how:


Gathering information

At C2C-OD, we have embraced accelerated learning as a methodology to design and deliver training. Participants get an opportunity to immerse themselves into the learning material – touch, feel, create their own material and/ or watch videos.
We believe that people have different learning styles, hence it becomes imperative to design programs that appeal to all learning types. The Center for AL has created four categories – S.A.V.I.

Somatic – learning by physical activity that uses the body in some way

Auditory – learning by talking and social interaction

Visual – learning by watching and listening

Intellectual – learning by reflecting, thinking, and analyzing

Our programs follow this methodology due to which participants take away useful and relevant information.


Reflecting on information 

Using a facilitated learning approach, we are constantly asking participants to reflect on learning and think things through. Debriefing an activity or experience helps participants connect learnings to their work life. As facilitators, if we do not allow participants to reflect on their experiences and relate them to their work, then a lot of the learning may be lost. We mixing up our debriefing activities to keep participants engaged in what they are learning and also helps our facilitators create more AHA! moments.


Creating new ideas 

As part of the debrief, we encourage participants to make associations of the content with knowledge and information they already possess. We also use simulations to help explore these ideas and new information further. For instance, one of the simulation we actively and successfully use is the forum theatre (theatre based role play). During these role plays, we invite professional actors and depending on the concept in question, program participants are expected to overcome a given challenge via role play. The benefits of forum theatre are manifold:

  1. Active participation by all
  2. Relates to real-life situations
  3. Helps participants explore, investigate and experiment
  4. Foster community learning – we are big fans of knowledge sharing and encourage the same in the training room.
  5. Sparks creativity and imagination which results in out-of-the-box thinking


Testing the idea

Learning leads to change, or at least, that’s the hope. But, unless people see value in learning, they will not put in the necessary efforts to change behaviors. In some cases, we see participants put in the effort, but the work environment may not be conducive (insecured manager who discourages change/ lack of resources/ overall company culture etc.)
While it is imperative that a learning intervention creates every opportunity for the participants to learn, the actual TESTING can happen only when they are back at work. As a facilitator, we sometimes miss on this very critical last part – how do we measure the impact we have made? At C2C-OD, we have partnered with the Kirkpatricks. With Kirkpatrick four levels of evaluation, we are able to demonstrate the returns on engagement.

For testing to be successful, participants are given a high level of support to practice their new skills through reinforcements, rewards, recognition and monitoring.

In conclusion, the entire learning ecosystem – comprising instructional designers, business heads, learning professionals, training providers – needs to to work together to create an environment that encourages learning and is hence conducive to success.


Preethi B. Rao


Our Official Website – https://www.c2cod.com/

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