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Cognition – Pettersson, Rune, 2018

In this book, the focus is on the receiver. Cognition is a mental processing model
used in cognitive psychology. It establishes that our working memory is limited to five
to seven “chunks” of information. Our attention must frequently be refreshed, and
recalling information requires more cognitive effort than recognizing information. We
see, hear, and taste cohesive and unified information. Cognitive principles denote one of
the four groups of message design principles; facilitating attention, facilitating
perception, facilitating processing, and facilitating memory. Guidelines based on these
principles will assist the information designer to design information and learning
materials that are well suited for the intended receivers. How we actually create
meaning is an area where a lot of research is still needed. Complicated language, in both
texts, pictures and graphic form will impair the understanding of any intended message.
Information materials providing the wrong information may actually give a negative
result, and the receiver may end up less competent than before.


We can assume that there is more than one learning process involved while we
are learning. There are probably no distinct borders between learning processes. They
probably interact, and work in parallel. Learning is parallel and spontaneous. We select
and perceive information that we process into knowledge. The many available learning
theories only offer explanations of certain learning situations. “Combined learning” is a
holistic view of learning. In my view, different situations require activation of different
learning processes, or maybe “use of different learning tools.” Obviously learning to
walk is very different from learning to speak a foreign language.

Brien and Eastmond (1994) formulated a set of recommendations to assist the

instructional designer, the teacher, and the trainer to enhance the learner’s motivation to
learn. They provided six recommendations. The teacher and/or trainer need to help the
learner to establish links between the competence to be acquired and the satisfaction of
need. He or she needs to use methods of teaching that will permit the satisfaction of
individual needs. The third recommendation was to vary the stimuli and the methods of
instruction. The teacher and/or trainer have to present challenging learning activities,
and attend to prerequisite skills. The sixth and final recommendation was to design
activities that elicit pleasant emotions. (p. 14)

Learning improves when we have a positive attitude both to the subject matter
and to our own ability to learn. Learning improves when information is relevant and
meaningful to the subject matter. In my view, information must correspond to an
interest or a need in the learner. Information must have good legibility, good readability,
and be well worth reading. We must be able to understand the message. (15)

Presentation of information Learning is affected by the presentation of

information. Learning improves when the same information content is presented in
different representations: words, pictures, and sound (Paivio, 1983, 1986; Pressley &
Miller, 1987). The representations shall have a redundant or a relevant relationship.
Learning improves when the same information is presented in different media. Learning
improves as the quality and depth of the cognitive engagement and processing increases
and declines as the quality of engagement decreases. Regular exercise is reported to
improve learning (Dryden & Vos, 1994).