The world of learning and education has traditionally made extensive use of conditioning techniques. The use of conditioning is even becoming more used within the LMS ad LXP we use these days within organisations. I would like toexplain the difference between conditioning and the relational cognition approach to learning. In the light of transdiscipliniary teams and the support  of 21 future skills it is important to see the difference.

conditioning versus relational cognition

Through conditioning we focus on modifying individuals’ behavior through reward and punishment. This can be effective in certain contexts, but it emphasizes external stimuli and forces learners to perform certain actions without real understanding of the underlying concepts. The strategy is focused on short term, except when we repeat a lot then we start knowing by heart, even if we don’t have any insights nor understanding.

Relational cognition, on the other hand, offers a completely different approach to learning. It focuses on developing deep understanding and meaningful connections between concepts and relations people. Rather than simply absorbing information, students are encouraged to make connections between different ideas and to apply their own knowledge and experiences. This promotes critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. Learning supported by relational cognitions is a good way to complement the traditional conditioning techniques: it has a positive impact on engagement and can lift engagement up to involvement.

Especially within transdiscipliniary teams relational cognition will improve the learning transfer. First of all there is a clear common goal. Next to the expertise of each team memeber ( learner) there are so many skills,eperiences that we don’t know about or make assumptions about. To open tis dialogue it is important to start with selfreflection and positioning within the team. Be aware positions are not fixed but dynamic.

Connections versus relations

The difference between connections and relationships is also crucial in the context of relational cognition. Connections refer to superficial connections between people, focusing on information exchange and superficial interactions. This may be similar to the way people make “connections” on social networks, where interactions are often superficial and transactional ( instrumental).

Relationships, on the other hand, go much deeper and are based on mutual understanding, trust and commitment. They go beyond information exchange and foster a sense of community and cooperation. In an educational context, building relationships means that learners support each other, learn from each other’s knowledge and experiences, and work together toward common goals.

By using the BOBIP method we encourage relationships and the sense of cooperation. We go together forward!


The difference between conditioning and relational cognition, as well as between connections and relationships, lies in the approach to learning.
Conditioning focuses on external stimuli and modifying behavior, while relational cognition focuses on developing understanding, meaningful connections and collaboration. Connections are superficial, while relationships are deep and involved. By moving to relational cognition and building meaningful relationships, we can discover a new dimension of learning and education that is inspiring, collaborative and profound.

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