Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cognitivism in Practice

Mind Map branch: Mind mapping complements cognitive learning

Learning is a process which pulls together emotional, cognitive, and environmental factors and experiences in order to acquire, enhance, and make changes to an individual's skills, knowledge, values, and views. Learning theories are therefore an attempt to describe how people learn” (Learning Theories). Cognitivism is a learning theory that deals with the information processing of learners. In the video, Cognitive Learning Theories, Dr. Michael Orey talks about the Cognitive Theories (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). He states that Cognitive Theory is the way humans process knowledge, and that there are different components of Cognitive Learning Theory. These components are Limited Short Term or Working Memory, Elaboration, Allan Paivio’s Dual Coding Hypothesis, and the Network Model of Memory.
In the article, Cognitive Tools it is stated that “Cognitive tools impact student learning by causing them to think about information instead of reproducing and/or recalling information. Information is shifted through and evaluated for its’ validity, reliability, and applicability to research and problem solving activities” (Brent Robertson, Laura Elliot, Donna Washington). Cognitive tools help students learn new information more effectively and they allow “students to interact with information in order to acquire, synthesize, create, and share new knowledge” (Brent R. et al). In the book Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, I read about two instructional strategies that embed technology: “Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers” and “Summarizing and Note Taking.” These two strategies use the cognitive tools required for students to learn.
“The instructional strategies Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers focuses on enhancing students’ ability to retrieve, use, and organize information about a topic” (Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K.p.73). This chapter talks about focusing on what is important rather than on the unusual, and it emphasizes the use of technology to help students learn. It also talks about the importance of using word-processing, spreadsheets, concept mapping software, and multimedia tools for cognitive learning strategies. Word processing can be used for expository, narrative, and graphic organizers, while spreadsheets can be used to make rubrics or help in difficult math problems. Brainstorming software or concept mapping tools (e.g. inspiration) are good for organizing thoughts, and the repeated instruction can help students see and hear the information repeatedly. “Auditory learners have the added benefit of being able to listen many times to information in order to understand it better” (Pitler, H, et al p. 79). Multimedia software is another great cognitive learning tool. Google video, Brain Pop, United Streaming and Teacher Tube have some excellent resources that can help students “activate prior knowledge and develop a mental model to help them understand new information” (Pitler, H, et al. p. 82).
“The instructional strategy summarizing and note taking focuses on enhancing students’ ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form”(Pitler, H, et al. p. 119). In this chapter, I learned so many things about word processing that I had not been aware of earlier. The auto-summarizing tool is very helpful, and is an excellent means for students, not only to summarize their work, but also to help them in their writing process. “After a student has completed a rough draft, he or she can use the Auto-Summarizing tool to see if Word identifies the same main points that the student intended”(Pitler, H, et al. p. 124). The Note Taking sections suggest using graphic organizers, while the Summarizing section talks about concept mapping tools like inspiration to organize thoughts. The web resources provided in this chapter are very useful. My class is working on a non-fiction research project and I plan to use the Note Star 
( http://notestar.4teachers.org) website for them to organize their research. This chapter also explores the communication software of wikis and blogs as excellent tools for cognitive learning, especially for note taking and summarizing. I have a classroom blog and the students are very excited about it. I get comments from students on the blog on a daily basis. At times, they use the blog to summarize their thoughts, and love to get feedback from their peers or teachers. In my blog I have interactive games (http://www.multiplication.com/interactive_games.htm), Podcasts (http://preetisingh.podbean.com/podcasts/) and Virtual tours (http://www.magictreehouse.com/teachers_resource_center#home?intro=0), to name just a few of the resources my students can visit. “The blog serves as an archive of class discussions for later review” and just like Mrs. Holt (in this chapter) I share the “blog’s web address with parents, who enjoy getting a peek at the conversations taking place in the classroom” ”(Pitler, H, et al. p. 138).
            These instructional strategies of Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers, and Summarizing and Note Taking correlate with the principles of cognitive learning theory. Cognitivism recognizes learning as a mental process. Learning takes place when the mind makes connections that allow a person to recall information successfully. The tools that enforce this connection in our brain are the cognitive tools, and these tools help students Seek and Present information, Organize, Integrate and Generate knowledge. The use of technology tools discussed in this book also enhances the cognitive learning theory whose main aim is for students to understand, retain, and recall information.

Brent Robertson, Laura Elliot, Donna Washington: Cognitive Tools: Retrieved on January 18, 2011 from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology. Baltimore: Dr. Michael Orey
Learning Theories: Retrieved on January 18, 2011 from http://www.about-elearning.com/learning-theories.html
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007).Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Hi Preeti,
    You share an excellent overview of they ways we as teachers draw on the cognitive learning theory in our classroom instructional practices.
    Yes, I find word processing to be extremely valuable in the writing process--especially if it is used in composing. My experience has been that it can have a strong impact on students' schemas for the writing process.

    Many students believe that writing involves sitting down at a piece of paper and beginning with word one--then writing word by word until they reach the final world. Then, they think they give a quick re-read for spelling errors and they have finished.

    However, most expert writers spend the lion's share of their efforts on revision. They would report that writing isn't a linear process--but rather a dynamic one where they are constantly experiment with the organization of a piece--moving sentences and paragraphs--substituting vocabulary--they may begin at the end of the piece and work backward. A word processor allows this. It also provides scaffolding for students who might be held back by spelling deficits and a thesaurus to help students develop a more colorful vocabulary.

    Concept maps can facilitate the organization of the work, something many students are challenged by.

    Tools like these can help students move toward developing the well organized schemas of experts--understanding how information is connected.

    Thank you for sharing.


  2. Preeti,
    First, let me say that your colorful map at the beginning of your post is wonderful. The more that I visit your blog, the more I can see where you are expanding your skills into the world of educational technology. Your blog is very interesting.
    I appreciate the fact that you listed websites for our classmates to visit and to use.
    I am starting to see that technology fits very well into all of the educational learning theories. There have been numerous ideas posted through blogs and the Walden site to prove this!

  3. Response to Dr. Krauss,
    I am one of those who relies on spell check and always uses the thesaurus to find words. I was amazed at all the things I did not know about word processing.

    I worked on a lesson using concept mapping with my students. After a few weeks, I am going to take them to the computer lab and let them try it for themselves to see how enjoyable it is. I think they have to experience it themselves to see the real benefit from it.

  4. Response to Kathy

    Thank you for the compliment. I am a visual learner, so I tend to visualize everything with pictures. In my classroom blog, I insert many images for students to relate to and they simply love it.