Cognitivism

  • Concept Map--an alternate view (to come)
  • Resources, Links (to come)

Most Prominent Contributors

Merrill-Componant Display Theory (CDT)

Reigeluth (Elaboration Theory)

Gagne, Briggs, Wager (Events of instruction)

Bruner (moving toward cognitive constructivism)

Shank (scripts)

Scandura (structural learning)


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Definition of Learning

  • Knowledge can be seen as symbolic mental constructions or schema.
  • Learning is defined as (lasting?) changes in learner schemata or these mental construction


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Description of Theory

  • Concerned with mental processes and meaning
  • Changes in behavior are observed, but only as an indication of what is going on in the learner's head.
  • Learning does not have to be explicitly expressed to occur.
  • Information is chunked into processable blocks
  • Computer-like in their descriptions of cognition
  • Schema
  • Knowledge is largely viewed as given and absolute, but this nature of truth or knowledge is not the primary focus of cognitivism.
  • Learner requires active participation on the part of the student.

    Key terms

    • Schema, Schemata
    • Information processing
    • Symbol manipulation
    • Knowledge construction
    • Context, linkage, relevance
    • Information mapping, mental models
    • Input, processing, output, buffer, storing
    • Development of novice to expert.
    • Automatization, pattern recognition
    • Think aloud techniques

    Relation to other Theories

    • Reaction to behaviorism
    • Behaviorists claim that mental processes cannot be studied because they are not directly observable and measurable, cognitive psychologists claim that they must be studied because they alone can explain how people think and act the way they do
    • Concept of schema seems quite strongly related to Gestalt theory



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Initial (knee-jerk) Reactions

  • If objectively observable behavior is how cognitivists know what they know, they seem to rely heavily on behaviorist principals.
  • The computer-like references are a helpful metaphor.
  • Fine-tunes instructional techniques that grew out of behaviorism.
  • Cognitive theories elevate man over other animals, and account for manís agency (and accountability)--One can know without doing ďI know that flossing will protect my teeth and gums, but I donít want to do it,Ē or ďI know that I should probably do more than lecture today, but good instruction takes so much prep time, and I donít feel like doing it.Ē
  • Still a very scientific (positivist) approach to understanding learning.
  • Does not address sufficiently the social, affective and motivational influences on learning.


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Relevance to Instructional Systems Design (ISD)

  • Designers/teachers should link new knowledge to prior knowledge (activate schema) to create a context for learning.† Techniques and cognitive devices (mentals maps, advanced organizers etc.) should be used to help make new knowledge memorable.
  • Chunking
  • Interface design affects learning.
  • Knowledge construction suggests a move from didactic approaches and toward exploratory, non-prescriptive design.


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What I Donít Know yet / Questions

  • How long does schema have to remain changed for learning to be deemed having occurred?
  • While recall is probably a form of learning?† Does learning require recall?

Source: W. Winn and D. Snyder (1996). Cognitive Perspectives in Psychology,
ch. 9 in Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology
. D.H. Jonassen (ed.) NY: Simon & Schuster

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Page last modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2002