Cognitive Initiatives

Cognitive Initiatives

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0240-3.ch004
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Abstract

Organizations that operate within the cognitive perspective use cognitive initiatives to develop people and technology within the workplace. The cognitive initiatives that are most popular in today’s workplace are teaching, learning, procedures and processes, and motivation. These initiatives are used to accomplish effective execution of organizational goals. Teaching and learning are often combined, but in this book, they will be explored separately. The objective of this chapter is to discuss ways that organizations that focus on the cognitive initiatives of teaching, learning, procedures and processes, and motivation in the workplace can succeed in the competitive marketplace through its people and technology development.
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Introduction

According to Wittrock (1978) the cognitive movement “encourages research on comprehension, understanding and transfer” which are fundamental to education (p.15). He also stated that

“A cognitive approach indicates that “learning from instruction is scientifically more productively studied as an internally, cognitively mediated process than as a direct product of the environment, people, or factors external to the learner. The approach involves understanding relations or interactions between the learners’ cognitive processes and aptitudes, such as attribution, motivation, encoding, memory, cognitive styles, and cognitive structures, and the characteristics of instructional treatments.” (p.15)

Essentially the person learns within himself and can be impervious to the influences and opinions of others. In cognitive organizations learners play an active and constructive role in their own learning, take responsibility, and are held accountable for what they know and learn. The scientific and technological revolutions led to revisions in methods of teaching and changes in the thought processes regarding the cognitive approach to learning and instruction.

Organizations that operate within the cognitive perspective use cognitive initiatives to develop people and technology within the workplace. The cognitive initiatives that are most popular in today’s workplace are teaching, learning, procedures and processes, and motivation. These initiatives are used to accomplish effective execution of organizational goals. Teaching and learning are often combined, but in this book, they will be explored separately.

One cannot discuss cognitive initiatives in the workplace without considering the work of industrial and organizational psychologists and their research related to employee training. As early as 1932, Viteles was an advocate for training in the workplace to increase efficiency and improve individual adjustment. He noted that “A well-organized training program, based on a sound analysis of the job and applying well-established learning principles, enables the worker to employ the most effective methods in the performance of his task” (p. 393). Tiffin (1942) defined training as “the process by which, through some form of instruction, the necessary responses for correctly performing a job are developed” (p. 185). Ghiselli and Brown (1948), on the other hand, defined training as “a means of adjusting the worker in the working environment in such a way as to bring about the greatest returns to both the worker and the organization” (p. 308). Without a well understood purpose for and definition of training, it is difficult for organizations to develop people to the extent required to successfully implement work functions with or without the use of technology.

People are essential to effective work performance, yet their worth to the organization has been constantly debated and their voices are continuously being questioned. The 2011 labor dispute between Governor Walker of Wisconsin and the public employees union regarding collective bargaining is just one example.

The voice of the employee is critical within an organization that depends on the cognitive ability of the employee to be effective. To under estimate the value, cognitively, that employees place on being able to express and display their knowledge in the workplace can lead to extensive problems.

Myers (1925) argued a similar point as this author when questioning the development of people in the workplace. In regards to new workers learning bad habits from more seasoned employees he asked: “Who can doubt the importance of determining such undeniably wasteful methods of movement and of preventing the novice from falling into such bad habits of work? Yet how little provision is made of training the worker scientifically, i.e. systematically” (p. 100)! He argued for the use of professional trainers to inform the worker regarding task performance. He used some analogies from sport to make his case.

“In the case of sport, e.g. … in riding, skating or golfing, few of us would dispense with the instruction of a professional expert. But in the case of industrial work, the novice has in by far the majority of cases to pick up his methods as best he can, perhaps learning from a worker of experience who may, nevertheless, have acquired bad habits of movement, or from one who, if he has acquired good ones, may be quite useless as an instructor.” (p.100)

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