Challenges to Learning

Although much of our learning is successful, research in the cognitive sciences has shown a number of cognitive challenges can interfere with learning, sidetrack it and prevent it from taking place. Teachers and students need to be aware of how these obstacles can derail learning and how to overcome them. Teachers need to address these challenges when they plan and teach their courses. Likewise, students need to take these into account as they study, participate in class, do assignments and work to develop knowledge and skills.

The nine cognitive challenges below can undermine learning in any learning situation.

  1. Constraints of selective attention
  2. Constraints of mental effort and working memory
  3. Insufficient prior knowledge
  4. Misconceptions
  5. Ineffective learning strategies
  6. Transfer of learning
  7. Metacognition and self-regulation
  8. Student mental mindset
  9. Student fear and mistrust