What are cognitive skills?

COGNITIVE SKILLS

To understand the importance of cognitive skills, it is necessary to look at learning as two distinct parts: 

  • specific academic study and 
  • a student’s underlying ability to learn. 

Cognitive skills are the underlying tools that enable you to think, prioritize, plan, understand, visualize, remember, create useful associations, and solve problems successfully .

Cognitive Skills are every student’s foundation for successful learning.

The 7 core cognitive skills are:

Attention

We train 3 types of attention: sustained, selective and divided attention.

Sustained Attention

What it does: Enables you to stay focused and on task for a sustained period of time.

Common problems when this skill is weak: A Lot of projects are left unfinished, jumping from task to task.

Selective Attention

What it does: Enables you to stay focused and on a task despite distractions.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Easily distracted.

Divided Attention

What it does: Enables you to remember information while doing two things at once.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Difficulty multitasking, frequent mistakes.

Memory/Long-Term

What it does: Enables you to recall information stored in the past.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Forgetting names, doing poorly on tests, forgetting things you used to know.

Memory/Working (or Short-Term)

What it does: Enables you to hang on to information while in the process of using it.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Having to read the directions again in the middle of a project, difficulty following multi-step directions, forgetting what was just said in a conversation.

Logic & Reasoning

What it does: Enables you to reason, form ideas, and solve problems.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Frequently asking, “What do I do next?” or saying, “I don’t get this,” struggling with math, feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

Auditory Processing

Also known as phonemic awareness.

What it does: Enables you to analyze, blend, and segment sounds. It is a critical skill in beginning to read, and spelling.Common problems when this skill is weak: Struggling with learning to read, reading fluency, or reading comprehension.

Visual Processing

What it does: Enables you to think in visual images.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Difficulties understanding what you’ve just read, remembering what you’ve read, following directions, reading maps, doing word math problems.

Processing Speed

What it does: Enables you to perform tasks quickly and accurately.
Common problems when this skill is weak: Most tasks are more difficult. Taking a long time to complete tasks for school or work, frequently being the last one in a group to finish something. 

Each of these skills plays a specific and necessary role in effective academic performance. Weak skills result in a diminished capacity to learn and perform. 

What are cognitive skills?

 

Symptoms that signal the possibility of a cognitive processing problem are:

  • Difficulty paying attention & staying on task
  • Problems remembering – forgets instructions or what was read earlier
  • Struggling to comprehend
  • Taking a long time to complete tasks and avoiding work that seems complicated
  • Difficulties sounding out words and spelling
  • Problems creating mental pictures, making associations & conclusions
  • Making frequent “careless” errors

Check out our Testing and Our Training on Cognitive skills.

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