Learning Theories: Group Assignment (Group A): Cognitivism


Each group should do reading and research about their assigned theory, including the following sections in their wiki-based report:

Overview of the Theory

  • describe what the underlying ideas about learning are for this theory(Steph)
  • Learning builds upon knowledge that a student already knows which is called a schema. Learning is more effective when students are more engaged and active. It is not a passive approach to learning but is an active approach. The teacher avoids direct instruction and tries to teach through activities, questions, and class discussions.

  • compare/contrast this theory with at least 2 others (Jess)
Cognitive psychology assumes that humans have the capacity to process and organize information in their mind. It is concerned less with visible behavior and more with the thought processes behind it. Cognitive psychology tries to understand concepts such as memory and decision making.

Behaviorism only concerns itself with the behavior that can be observed. It assumes that we learn by associating certain events with certain consequences, and will behave in the way with the most desirable consequences. It also assumes that when events happen together, they become associated and either event will have the same response. It does not note any difference between animal behavior and human behavior.

The only real similarities between the two is that they are both attempts to explain human behavior, and they are both old theories which have been replaced by other, more recent approaches (such as congitive behaviorism which takes the best of both theories- and social psychology which looks at how our interactions with others shape our behavior)

Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism have several similarities and differences. They are similar in that all three attempt to explain and describe how learning occurs. All learning theories can be considered attempts to improve teaching, learning, and the educational and instructional process as a whole.

Behaviorism focuses on observable behavior while cognitivism is concerned with cognitive and mental processes that cannot be observed. Like cognitivism, constructivism is based upon mental processes and problem solving, but also takes into consideration the importance of student responses, an important aspect of behaviorist theory. Cognitivism and constructivism are also similar in that they both stress the importance of the relationship of newly presented or acquired information to learning that has already taken place. In other words, learners are expected to relate new concepts to prior knowledge and experience.



  • include pictures of the various theorists Brianne
jean1-piaget.jpg
Jean Piaget
john_sweller.jpg
John Sweller
robert_gagne.jpg
Robert Gagne

  • embed a SlideShare presentation that is relevant (click on WIDGET above and copy/paste embed code)
  • embed a SHORT and relevant video from YouTube

Educational Implications(Steph)

Activities should provide events (as explained by Gagne in his 9 events of instruction) to support the type of learning. One important aspect is that students are expected to demonstrate pre-requisite skills for the current lesson. (Note from Professor Ficek)

  • Experimentation: students individually perform an experiment and then come together as a class to discuss the results.
  • Films. These provide visual context and thus bring another sense into the learning experience.
  • Research projects: students research a topic and can present their findings to the class.


Technology Implications(Jess)

Which technologies do you think fit here, or how you think technology supports your list? For example, you could mention that computers provide an efficient way to measure pre-requisite knowledge via online assessments that are auto-graded and provide immediate feedback for students. You could mention that lessons designed in SoftChalk following a template where 9 screens are provided (one for each of Gagne's events of instruction) -- this would be a consistent sequence of activities to satisfy the 9 events.
  • acquiring new information
  • transforming old information to fit a particular task (be flexible)
  • evaluating or measuring to see whether the transformed information works
  • interactive lessons to help with problem solving
  • adapt to the different learning styles of students


Articles: 2-3 Journal Articles from ERIC Susan (I'm willing to do one of these)

For each article provide the following:
  • Proper bibliographic citation (APA)
  • Summary of article
  • Your opinion about the ideas in the article

Article #1 --

Overskeid, G. (2008). They Should Have Thought About the Consequences: The Crisis of Cognitivism and a Second Chance for Behavior Analysis. The Psychological Record, 58, 131-151.

This article contemplates the differences between cognitivism and behaviorism in psychology. It states that although cognitivists have dominated recently, they are receiving criticism for having a research focus that is too narrow. The focus of cognitivism is “all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used.” But there are challenges that blame cognitive psychologists of ignoring things that can affect cognition, such as emotions, environment, and perception. Also, these psychologists are criticized for disregarding reinforcers and sensory input. Some psychologists are now thinking that cognition can’t explain behavior, because cognition itself is a behavior that must be explained.

After reading this article, I was surprised at how much the author seemed to dislike and put down cognitivism. We have been taught about schemas and how children put what they learn into different categories in their brains. It was interesting to see how someone can disagree and criticize what used to be the dominating focus of mainstream psychology.


Article #2--

Fox, Jean-Paul. (March 2009). Evaluating Cognitive Theory: A Joint Modeling Approach Using Responses and Response Times. Psychological Methods, 14, 54-75.


This article was about using a new model that allows an analysis of the accuracy of scores and response times when dealing with cognitive tests. They noted that cognitive theories pertaining to test design and variable models, have been merged in the field of educational assessment to provide meaningful results. The integration of cognitive theory into educational assessment is usually based on an information-processing approach. They used many models to test the relationship between ability and speed of test takers. This cognitive approach worked well for dissociating item difficulty and time intensity for tests.


This article taught me a lot about how cognitive tests are used. The article provided graphs, charts, statistics, plans, and outcomes that went into their model. I think it is great to see the benefits of cognitivism and how it is applied into assessments. In this article they used the cognitive theory to test ability of test takers and their speed; there are many other ways that people use this theory to find outcomes of children's learning.


Presentation: Susan

Find a relevant presentation about the assigned theory / theorician on http://slideshare.net and embed it below.


Video: Brianne

Find a relevant video on YouTube and embed it here.

Concept Map

  • Provide a concept map that integrates the information you've located into a visual drawing using one of the Concept Mapping applications that will be demonstrated in class.
  • Your map must include at least 2 hyperlinks to relevant textual resources, 1 hyperlink to a relevant video, clipart/images to make the concept map visually attractive, and appropriate coloring/organization to clearly showcase the ideas.

Cognitivism_Learning_Theory.jpg