Several theories of learning have been developed over time, however the three prominent learning theories in relation to education are behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism, with connectivism being developed most recently due to the increase in the use of technology in education.
The Four Theories:
Cognitivism is the study of the mind and how it obtains, processes, and stores information. Cognitive views on learning are associated with an information processing model which consists of several parts namely, sensory memory, working memory and long term memory, where the last two terms are part of metacognition or “the act of thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing”.
I believe the best quote I found in relation to metacognition is “referring to conscious behaviour in which learners plan, monitor, evaluate and revise their progress in the course of the learning process.”
Based on the literature metacognition is the awareness individuals have of their own mental processes and the subsequent ability to monitor, regulate, and direct themselves to a desired end. For example students demonstrate metacognition if they can articulate what strategies they used to read and understand a text.
A number of teachers use the cognitive view of learning to begin lessons as elaborate rehearsal allows for information to be stored and encoded in the long term memory with constant stimuli from the environment when a person is attentive and perceptive. Attention and perception are heightened when a person is motivated which in turn allows for an increase in learning.
The following graph clearly demonstrates what effect revision can have on the long term memory and how much potential the brain has to store information and recall information when necessary. The brain does however lose information if the information is not continually rehearsed and encoded into the long term memory.
In order to stop the brain “pruning” out information it deems is not useful it is important to make learning rewarding, enjoyable, and motivating in order for students to develop new skills and learn new information. Cognitivism is particularly relevant to the physical education setting as practicing certain skills and techniques over a period of time allows students to develop movements and eventually link them together, in order to perform the skill without thinking about it.
A simple video explanation of cognitivism: