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What is Cognitivism? 


Cognitivism is "the psychology of learning which emphasizes human cognition or intelligence as a special endowment enabling man to form hypotheses and develop intellectually" (Cognitivism) and is also known as cognitive development. The underlying concepts of cognitivism involve how we think and gain knowledge. Cognitivism involves examining learning, memory, problem solving skills, and intelligence.  Cognitive theorists may want to understand how problem solving changes throughout childhood, how cultural differences affect the way we view our own academic achievements, language development, and much more. (Feldman, Cognitivism)


Cognitivism is Seen from Different Viewpoints 


  • Willhelm Wundt started the first psychology laboratory in 1879 in Leipzig, Germany. He believed in "the development of introspection as a means for studying the mind." (Cognitivism) Though he was not specifically involved in the field of Educational Psychology, he began the study of the mind.  Therefore, he is an important name in the history of psychology, educational or otherwise.
  • Jean Piaget theorized that there are four stages of Cognitive Development. The first is a sensorimotor stage. This stage typically lasts until a child is about two years old.  During the sensorimotor stage, a child explores the world through his senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell.  A child will develop an awareness that things and people exist even when the child is not there.  For example, at the completion of this stage, a child is aware that his toys are still in the living room, even when he is in his room and cannot see them.  A child will also develop some motor skills during this time.  However, children typically have no understanding of symbolic representation.  


The final three stages are operational stages.  The preoperational stage occurs when a child begins and continues to develop language and thinking skills, and typically lasts from age two until age seven.  The child also becomes focused on himself and how the world relates to him. 


The concrete operational stage usually occurs between the ages of seven and twelve.  During the concrete operational stage, a child begins to see the world in relation to others, not just himself.  Children also begin to develop locigal thinking; they begin to understand that the way objects are set up has nothing to do with the amount of an object. For example, children will begin to understand that in the following pictures, even though they are set up differently, different colors, etc., there are still only four boxes in each picture.









The final stage of Piaget's theory is known as the formal operational stage.  The formal operational stage begins around age twelve and lasts throughout our adult lives.  During this stage we develop both logical and abstract thinking.  Our thought process is ever changing. For example, if you ask a four year old girl why she eat apples, she may say, "they're yummy."  Asking the same question to a twelve year old girl may get you a response such as, "they're good for me"  Asking a college student in a nutrition class why a person eats apples can lead to an entire discussion on what foods you should eat and what they do for you.   During each stage we gain life experiences and increase our knowledge through them.  Piaget also believed that a child who hadn't completed certain developmental stages could not learn things from higher developmental stages.  For example, a child who has not learned language could not think logically.  


Besides his four stages of cognitive development, Piaget influenced the study of cognitivism in many other ways.  He believed that the human mind is embedded with specific ways of doing things.  For example, a baby knows how to suck his thumb without being taught, we breathe unconsciously, and our hearts beat without being ordered to.   There are three major concepts when dealing with changing ingrained schemes.  Assimilation occurs when a person perceives a new object in terms of existing knowledge.  Accommodation occurs when you modify existing cognitive structures based on new information.  Equilibration includes both assimilation and accommodation and is considered the master developmental process.  For example, a child who has only been around sports cars will believe that a car is small, has two doors, and is fast.  When he sees a minivan, he must change his belief about what a car is.  Once he accepts that a minivan is a type of car and a sports car is another type of car, equilibration is achieved. (Blessing, Cherry, Classroom, Computers, Cognitivism, Feldman, Free, Sauers)


  • Lev Vygotsky had another view on cognitive development.  He believed that learning was passed down from generation to generation; that it was a result of guided social interactions in which children worked with their peers and a mentor to solve problems and that cognitive development could only be understood if you took cultural and social context into account.  He believed that you were unable to think until you knew and understood a language.  Vygotsky came up with the Zone of Proximal Development, which he defined as the difference between the developmental level of a child and the developmental level a child could reach with the right amount of guidance.  He called this guidance scaffolding and believed that teachers should foster learning, independence, and growth among students. (Blessing, Cherry, Classroom, Computers, Cognitivism, Feldman, Free, Sauers)





Classroom Implications


In a classroom environment, there are many variables that influence and contribute to learning.  When creating and implementing a learning environment, it is imperative that the teachers not only create a setting that promotes learning, but also take the time to understand each child.  Classrooms are widely diverse and complex. Students learn differently and are at various developmental levels. Teachers who properly manage their classrooms and establish expectations will be able to incorporate diverse teaching philosophies and create an excellent learning environment for each student.  It is important that teachers create a learning environment that encourages students to do their best and makes learning interesting.  This creates a motivational climate within the classroom. There are two factors that are critical to motivate students, value and effort. (Classroom Management)  Students must understand that the work they are performing is worthwhile. Value measures the importance of a student's work to himself and others. Effort is the amount of time and energy students put into their work.  Understanding the value of academic tasks and the effort needed to complete those tasks can motivate students to perform better in the classroom environment (Classroom Management).


Cognitive Development Implied in the Classroom (“Piaget’s Theory”) 


    • Teachers should carefully assess the current stage of a child's cognitive development and only assign tasks for which the child is prepared.  The child can then be given tasks that are tailored to their developmental level and are motivating.
    • Teachers must provide children with learning opportunities that enable them to advance through each developmental stage. This is achieved by creating disequilibrium. Teachers should maintain a proper balance between actively guiding the child and allowing opportunities for them to explore things on their own to learn through discovery.
    • Teachers should be concerned with the process of learning rather than the end product.  For example, the teacher should observe the way a child manipulates play dough instead of concentrating on a finished shape.
    • Children should be encouraged to learn from each other. Hearing others' views can help breakdown egocentrism. It is important for teachers to provide multiple opportunities for small group activities.
    • Piaget believed that teachers should act as guides to children's learning processes and that the curriculum should be adapted to individual needs and developmental levels.



Examples of Cognitive Games in the Classroom


Cognitive games are designed to help stimulate various regions of the brain.  These games are used to improve reflexes, help people learn, promote critical thinking, and help people learn different patterns of association.  Cognitive games are helpful when used to learn a foreign language and memorize new material. Various learning techniques are used in the classroom because there are various learning styles.  There are many games that promote and influence cognitive learning. 


Examples of cognitive games include:


Educational Websites and Computer Games

 Most educational websites computer games focus on  stimulating a young child's senses while engaging them in various cognitive tasks.  Below are three of the many learning websites that are available to enhance cognitive development in young children.


Sorting Games

Sorting games require individuals to utilize recognition and reasoning.  Teachers can engage children in games in which the children sort items by various criteria, such as color, size, texture, and other physical attributes of the items.  A more advanced approach to sorting is discussing how the items are similar.  This process promotes critical thinking.


Flash Cards

 Flash cards can be used various tasks. This involves notecards or even scraps of paper in which two parts of information is written on either side of the notecard.  These can be as simple as having cards with a red dot on one side and the word red on the other.  Flash cards are typically used in a classroom for drills or in private study. These cards are used to aid memorization. Pre-made flash cards are available for many subjects.  Teachers and students may also make homemade flash cards, depending on how and what they are studying. Flash cards may also be personalized and printed from certain websites. (Flashcards) Flash cards can be utilized into various games as well. 


Board Games

Teachers may include board games in their classrooms to promote cognitive development. Unlike computer and video games, boardgames are tangible. Children can manipulate different pieces in the game. Board games can be implemented to enhance mathematical and linguistic skills and enhance a child's ability to understand and follow directions.  Monopoly and Bingo are two examples of games that may be considered in the classroom.



 Finding a solution to a puzzle develops a child's problem solving ability. Puzzles require a child to consider patterns, orders, and associations.  Some children are better problem, and puzzle, solvers than others. Children who actively solve puzzles that they are able to touch and piece together are more likely to understand certain concepts and develop their own theories about those concepts.


Implications Related to Technology Use


The introduction of computers into the educational system was led by the assumption, which persisted through the 1970s, that computers would replace teachers. (Computers for Cognitive)  This was an innovation that required extensive involvement of teachers to change teaching methods and define their role in the classroom setting.  Children are familiar with multiple aspects of computer technology because they have most likely been using it for most of their life.  However, many older parents, grandparents, and teachers are unfamiliar with technology. Adults must learn to use new or unfamiliar technology for the safety and education of children.  Implementing computer technology in the classroom is best when the teacher can guide the students through unfamiliar technology.  The learning process is enhanced when students are guided by teachers. 


Computers are an essential part of education and are only becoming more frequent in the classroom.  Educational technology is advancing and is becoming easier for children to use.  Children are already using websites to practice almost every aspect of learning.   Children who use computers should be closely monitored for safety purposes.  Children who do use computers should always use computers on a desk and males should never use laptop computers on their laps.  This affects physical development in later years.  Finding the right balance between computer games and hands on activities is essential when children are in the developmental stages of life. Studies have indicated that computers do not necessarily enhance cognitive development.  They have actually found that the use of computers in early childhood may impede the intellectual and social development of young children. (Computers for Cognitive) These studies indicated that computers may prevent children from interacting with classmates, teachers, and adults, and hinders the development of certain social skills.  


Additional Readings

Mehall, J. (2010, March 17) Cognitivism in Practice [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://jonasmehall.blogspot.com/2010/03/cognitivism-in-practice.html





Blessing, Michelle. “Extracurricular Activities for a Toddler.” eHow Contributors. 29 Jan 2001. Web. 04 Feb 2011. <http://www.ehow.com/info_7867707_extracurricular-activities-toddler.html>


Cherry, Kendra. "Background and Key Concepts of Piaget's Theory." Psychology - Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. Web. 02 Feb. 2011. <http://psychology.about.com/od/piagetstheory/a/keyconcepts.htm>. 


Cherry, Kendra. "Lev Vygotsky - Biography of Lev Vygotsky." Psychology - Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. Web. 02 Feb. 2011. http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesmz/p/vygotsky.htm


Cherry, Kendra. "Wilhelm Wundt - Biography of Wilhelm Wundt." Psychology - Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. Web. 02 Feb. 2011. <http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/wundtprofile.htm>.


“Classroom Management.” Answers.com. Web. 04 Feb 2011. <http://www.answers.com/topic/classroom-management>


"Cognitivism." www.personal.psu.edu. Web. 31 Jan. 2011. <http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/w/x/wxh139/cognitive_1.htm>.


“Computers for Cognitive Development in Early Childhood—the Teacher’s role in the Computer Learning Environment.” Goliath Business Knowledge. 01 Jan 2004. Web. 04 Feb 2011. <http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-4707650/Computer-availability-and-use-by.html>


Feldman, Robert S. Child Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.


"Free Essay Compare and Contrast the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky." ECheat - Free Essays, Free Term Papers, Custom Essays. Web. 04 Feb. 2011. http://www.echeat.com/essay.php?t=26240


Gahan, Sarah.“Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development Applied to the Classroom.”University of Leicester, School Education Social Science Resource. 09 Mar 2001. Web. 04 Feb 2011. <http://www.le.ac.uk/education/resources/SocSci/piaget.html>


Johnson, Charlotte. “Cognitive Learning Games for Toddlers.” eHow Contributors. n.d. Web. 04 Feb 2011 <http://www.ehow.com/way_5293023_cognitive-learning-games-toddlers.html>


"Learning Theory-Cognitivism." Simon's Website - Home. Web. 05 Feb. 2011. <http://simonlin.info/learningtheory/cognitivism.htm>.


Rom, Noa. “Puzzles and Cognitive Development.” Conceptis Puzzles. 07 Sep 2001. Web. 04 Feb. 2011. <http://www.conceptispuzzles.com/index.aspx?uri=info/article/167>.


Sauers, Kay. "Piaget's Constructivism - Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology." Projects Server Introduction. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Piaget's_Constructivism>.



Comments (7)

Gayla S. Keesee said

at 4:04 pm on Feb 7, 2011

I have not had a chance to review this page to provide feedback on what needs to be corrected. Here are some initial comments.

I can see right now that a number of the reference citations are incorrectly formatted. No date should have the abbreviation n.d. There should be not spaces in front of the author (see Sauers). The URLs should be in <> Italics for website. Indicate whether web or print source. Need date create and date accessed on all citations. I provided the link to Valencia College's webpage on citing electronic sources previously: http://www.valenciacc.edu/library/doc_mla_electronic.cfm

The in-text citations are totally wrong. What is Cognitivism has not in-text citations. The examples of classroom uses section does not have any in-text citations. Need to create hyperlinks to electronic in-text citations so the reader can easily access the reference if he/she wants to see the entire article. Check this website for examples of in-text citations: http://library.duke.edu/research/citing/within/mla.html

Need consistency in size/placement of headings. Check out captions for images for word wrap errors.

Who is Willhelm Wundt? Never heard of him related to educational psychology. How can Piaget and Vygotsy be theorists for Cognitivism and Constructivism?

What is the purpose of the blue, green and pink boxes?

Need much more information on implications of cognitivism and technology since this is an Educational Technology course.

There should be no URLS within the body of the article. Create hyperlinks to explanatory words/page titles instead.

Brandi said

at 5:48 pm on Feb 7, 2011

Just checking once again, we are doing MLA Format. Correct? I personally don't have any references with no access date. Created date was unavailible for most of my web sources. There is an in text citations in what is cognitivism. It is right after the quotation, where it should be. I don't understand how we can put in-text citations on anything else. Nothing else is paraphrased. I took all the research and combined and thought it over and wrote my information. So I don't know how to put an in text citation unless you want an incredibly long parenthesis with all of my sources in it.
I will work on changing the size of the headings again, even though I have already changed them to the same size before.
Willhelm Wundt, as it explains in the information above, was the first person to open a lab to study psychology in Germany. I'm not sure why you've never heard of him but there was information on him in more than one of the above references. Since cognitivism is a psychological study, he's important.
Vygotsky and Piaget both had theories on cognitive development, they have differences but they are both important to cognitivism and people are starting to lean more towards Vygotsky's theory on cognitive development.
The boxes illustrate the sentence above them. They are a visual aid.

Implications on cognitivism and technology were Jackie's parts, I just edited the wording, grammar, etc. The URLS are also Jackie's. I'm not sure why some of them are in there either.

Gayla S. Keesee said

at 7:19 pm on Feb 7, 2011

1) You should be using MLA.
2) If this is a group project, that means that everyone should check after everyone else. If there are access dates missing, and they aren't yours, you can always check the Page History to see when Jackie added the information. You know when you two were adding, it would be within reason to just put Saturday's date. You may have to look around the web site (not just the web page) to find a copyright date--look at the bottom of the pages.
3) If i can click on the link and find it, you can too. We'll talk about whether you should use sources where you can't identify the currency of the information this week as you complete your web page evaluations.
4) As I stated before, you must cite any information that you get from an outside source that is not common knowledge. That includes summaries and paraphrases (i.e., pulling together information from several sources and putting it in your own words) as well as direct quotes. That means, that, yes, you may have an in-text citation that has multiple authors/sources listed. To cite multiple sources in the same parenthetical reference, separate the citations by a semi-colon and put in alphabetical order: (Burke, Jones).
5) What I was asking regarding the headings was for them NOT to be all the same size so the reader could more easily differentiate the different categories of information. See the Constructivism page.
6) Wilhelm Wundt is the father of psychology; however, his research did not influence education. The audience for this page is educators--not psychology majors. He is not important to educational psychology.

Gayla S. Keesee said

at 7:51 pm on Feb 7, 2011

7) Cognitive development consists of a constant effort to adapt to the environment in terms of assimilation and accommodation. In this sense, Piaget's theory is similar in nature to constructivist perspectives of learning (e.g., Bruner, Vygotsky). Vygotsky's theoretical framework is that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition. Check out this resource: http://tip.psychology.org/piaget.html Your discussion needs to explain that these theorists also have a foot in in the constructivist camp, i.e. there is some overlap--what is it and why.
8) You need to discuss the key concepts of cognitivism--related to brain based learning, information processing, and memory--and how these relate to instructional strategies and methods using the classroom: (flash cards, mnemonic devices, advance organizers, graphic organizers, repetition--strategies designed to connect to prior knowledge and rehearse information so it will go into long term memory) http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/802papers/mergel/brenda.htm#The%20Basics%20of%20Cognitivism Scroll down to the It Boggles the Mind box.
9) I see now that they are examples. Perhaps you could break each of the stages into separate paragraphs so it is easier to follow.

I was not trying to be argumentative when I provided my earlier comments. With the other groups, I was able to go in and write my comments directly in the article so you knew what I was referencing. However, you were already editing when went to add my comments, so I quickly jotted down my initial comments to provide guidance in what you were editing.

Brandi said

at 1:34 am on Feb 8, 2011

I wasn't trying to be argumentative either. I didn't learn about in text citations in my english courses because they were so long ago, so I didn't know that you could put multiple sources or that you put them at the end of each paragraph or section.
At the point of my response to your comment, I was very irritated because I had highlighted what I didn't understand in Jackie's work and asked her to clarify on the comments on the other page and she hadn't done so, instead her comment back came across to me as though she was annoyed that I was trying to help her and understand what she was saying. I had just changed an entire paragraph that wasn't mine. So I apologize if the response to your suggestions came across as being annoyed. I don't handle criticism well when I've worked really hard on something and I needed to take a break from this project because I was overwhelmed, and I feel like I am constantly playing catch up in this course.

Now that I have had some time away from it, if you would like for me to go back and change my information and work on it some more this week I will in order to help Jackie out, because I honestly don't think that we are going to hear much from Booker or Amada.

Gayla S. Keesee said

at 8:33 am on Feb 8, 2011

I have a quotation up on my wall that I often refer to when I am in these kinds of situations: Practice Detachment. We spend far too much time and effort trying to control things that aren't worth the struggle. Many things that worry us are really unimportant; we've just gotten over-involved and lost our bearings. We may find that we're trying to change things that we realistically cannot change. Instead of battering your head against a brick wall, learn to walk away. Don't ride a dead horse.

My mom used to advise--learn to pick your battles.
Another--Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing we can't see the forest for the trees. In other words, we need to get a little perspective on the situation/issue.

When I work with my students on writing and revising English essays, I always advise them to have some time (at least a day) between writing the first draft and proofreading and revising it. This gives you time to get it out of your head and you can see your writing from a different angle. It seems that you are now able to do that. Since I still have not heard from Booker or Amada, I think that you are right. You and Jackie will be the ones to finish this project. I think its time to start talking about what strengths EACH of you can bring to the project and how EACH of you can work together to support the other.

Jackie said

at 4:07 pm on Feb 8, 2011

Dr. Keesee,
Thanks for the feedback. I will review, consult with my team member, and make necessary changes.

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