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An introduction to cognitive domains and learning styles

CMS Vocational Training Hadyn Luke posted this on Sunday 9th of August 2020 Hadyn Luke 09/08/2020


An introduction to cognitive domains and learning styles

Have you ever noticed that other people have different ways of learning from you?

As a learning provider, CMS understands how important it is to recognise and respond to neurodiversity among our learners. This allows us to give each student the best and most appropriate support for them and to be as inclusive as possible as an organisation.

In this introduction to cognitive domains and learning styles we will look at the various ways students acquire knowledge and why how we tailor our support.

Why is it important to understand cognitive domains and learning styles?

Cognitive differences can not only affect whether a student develops the key skills they are likely to need to succeed in the workplace, but also impact their personal life.

With the growth in the number of people embarking on apprenticeships, it’s essential that we are inclusive and can make our courses accessible to all. This means developing an awareness of how different cognitive systems operate and adapting our support to suit each learner in their journey, improving their experience and outcomes.

What are the processes used by CMS?

At CMS, we employ two methods of assessing our learners cognitive domains and learning styles:

  1. Cognassist – a neurodiversity evaluation framework that assesses eight cognitive domains
  2. Honey and Mumford – a system that recognises four key different learning styles

It’s not always easy to identify those who need additional support. For example, some students may have no difficulty with visual learning but might struggle when it comes to written documents – or vice-versa.

The process involves:

  1. Identifying the additional learning needs of the student
  2. Tailoring resources and support to their specific needs
  3. Promoting a better understanding of neurodiversity
  4. Assessing the quality of delivery and its impact on each individual learner

What are cognitive domains and the different learning styles?

There is no right or wrong way of learning – but there is no doubt that not everyone acquires their knowledge and skills in the same way.

Cognitive domains recognise the different ways that individuals develop mental skills and acquire knowledge. These come under the heading of VAK (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) or CAS (cognitive, affective and psychomotor).

Various resources that are readily available online will break cognitive domains down into different numbers of categories – three, five, six, eight – but the principle remains the same.

The Cognassist resources we use at CMS recognise eight categories, as follows:

  1. Non-Verbal Memory
  2. Verbal Reasoning
  3. Verbal Memory
  4. Literacy
  5. Numeracy
  6. Visual Information Processing Speed
  7. Visual Perception
  8. Executive Function

Once we establish which category or categories are challenging for a student, we can adapt our learning resources and approaches to accommodate their learning styles.

When it comes to helping students learn, we follow the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Assessment Characteristics, which are:

  1. Activists – those who learn by doing
  2. Theorists – those who like to understand the theory first
  3. Pragmatists – those who need to see how to put the learning into practice
  4. Reflectors – those who learn by observation and reflection

How does understanding cognitive domains and learning styles help students?

Supporting those with additional learning needs with tailored intervention will help them to succeed in their careers – and in life in general.

First, it will reduce the number of students who drop out of their course because their needs haven’t been identified and addressed, leaving them without a qualification. Second, it will help students to find a job at the end of their apprenticeship. Last but not least, it will allow them to start work equipped with strategies to overcome any additional challenges they might face due to their neurodiversity.

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