The three types of learning


The Three Types of Learning

There is more than one type of learning. A committee of colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom, identified three domains/categories of educational activities:

Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge) - head
Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude/beliefs) - heart
Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills) - hands

Trainers often refer to these three domains as KSA (Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude), while we have called it Head, Heart and Hands. This classification of learning behaviours can be thought of as "the goals of the training process." That is, after the training session, the learner should have acquired new skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes, which if put into practice will make them more productive.

Cognitive Learning

The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills. There are six major categories, ranging from the simplest behaviour to the most complex. The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties; That is, the first one must be mastered before the next one can take place.

Psychomotor Learning

The psychomotor domain includes physical movement, coordination, and use of the motor-skill areas. Development of these skills requires practice and is measured in terms of speed, precision, distance, procedures, or techniques in execution.

Affective Learning

This domain includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes. There are five major categories.

Traditionally, most training and development initiatives have focused on the Cognitive and Psychomotor arenas, as they are the ones that are visible and easiest to "test'.

Affective learning (below the surface of the visible) has been the area touched least by traditional training initiatives because it is the most difficult to help people understand and develop.

One of Holistic Advancements points of difference and one of our primary strengths is our ability to tap into the affective learning domain?and to do so in an engaging, relevant way. Our core offerings of Gold of the Desert Kings, Application Series and Dog Chicken Dog are what we sometimes refer to as "awareness-based', that is, they primarily target the affective learning domain.

The interventions are structured (rules, experience, debrief) so that the debrief serves as the affective learning "classroom'. In the debrief, the participants can consciously learn more about what their own beliefs are. For example, with Gold of the Desert Kings, they learn about their beliefs in regards to maximizing productivity?what they believe about decision making, planning, goal setting, resource management, etc.

So how do we get people to consciously learn about their own belief system, that murky arena that usually lives in the depths "below the surface'?

In the debrief, through the process of reflecting, examining and questioning situations, decisions, and consequences, this usually hidden area of beliefs is made visible.

The methodology of the facilitation process to "mine for affective learning gold? works from the conscious level (what happened in our experience) to the depths of the affective learning domain, where our most deeply held (and often unconscious) beliefs live. With the growth in their affective learning domain, the participant is much more likely to make their unconscious beliefs and behaviors conscious. With this newfound awareness, they can consciously align their beliefs to their skills and knowledge to accelerate achieving the result they want.

When we learn to integrate the affective with the cognitive and psychomotor domains, we can make great changes.

There has been a surge of board and computer-based simulations that are being used to address affective learning. TandD magazine (Feb. 2004) quotes, "Simulation is the current method of choice for learning products dealing with particular subjects in the affective learning domains.' Our "simulations or games' (as they are sometimes called) have been dealing with affective learning for years!

Our "simulations' are real time, real world, human interactive experiences which deal with the "human factor' of complexity relating to affective learning issues. Computer-based simulations can only address this "human factor' in a virtual environment, whereas we work in the highly creative world of analogous, real-life experiences.

The question to be asked is, "If you are trying to develop your people?s learning about human (affective) issues, wouldn?t it make sense to use a human-based methodology to do so?'

Using Bloom?s taxonomy, you can introduce the concept that what we know (cognitively) is often in conflict with what we believe (affective). You can then explore this conflict and help find new ways to align heart and head, by first meeting the heart where it is at, and building from there.

Two examples, from Gold of the Desert Kings:

We "know' that when we take time upfront to plan, we can make better decisions. However, if our belief is that if everyone else is busy, or always in activity mode, we have to operate in the same way. Hence, belief (we have to go) trumps head knowledge (planning is important).

We know that we are better served when we get information from another source, but we believe that there is not enough time to do so and still get our "work' done. Here again, belief (I don?t have time to consult) trumps head knowledge (getting information helps).

Our beliefs drive what we know and what we do. In essence, this means that "heart learning' is the primary foundation on which to build "head learning' and "hand learning'.

"Head, Heart and Hands' not only makes sound common sense, but has been academically verified in Bloom?s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. Bloom?s model provides a simple yet brilliant context to demonstrate the value of our interventions.

Holistic Advancement, a 100% black owned, operated and accredited Human Resource Practice using the experiential learning methodology, to assist participants to build capacity, acquire critical skills and become work ready as part of the Learning and Development service they offer.

For more information go to or call + 27 21 424 7713.