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The Twelve Cognitive Processes that Underlie Learning

Another excellent post from Bobbi Newman at Libraries and Transliteracy:

The Twelve Cognitive Processes that Underlie Learning

“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:


Schools only deal with some of these skills and rarely attack them directly, instead choosing to focus on subjects rather than thinking ability. It is not impossible to learn how to do these things while studying school subjects, but it is much more difficult because teaching almost never emphasizes them. These skills in no way depend on any particular subject and can and should be learned without reference to subject matter knowledge. People have different interests as far as subjects go, but everyone has a deep need to become proficient at these skills in any area they pursue. The fact that school has been organized around subjects is one reason why the students produced by that system are not capable of thinking very clearly.”

I think that it is very important that all types of librarians understand the theory and practice of learning and how information is adapted by end users. That alone will allow us to make better choices for interfaces and information ecologies for our enterprises and our users.


Posted on: November 14, 2010, 6:55 am Category: Uncategorized