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Copy of Cognitivism

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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. 

Who is important to the Study of Cognitive Development? 


  • 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) 
  • 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. 


  • 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.   





Classroom Implications

Classroom environments are composed of 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 on different developmental levels. Teachers, who properly manage their classrooms and expectations, will be able to incorporate diverse teaching philosophies within their classroom and create an excellent learning environment for each student.  Creating a learning environment that encourages students to do their best and makes learning interesting creates a motivational climate within the classroom. There are two factors that are critical in a motivational environment, 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. 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 give tasks that the child is "ready" for. The child can then be given tasks that are tailored to their needs and are, therefore, likely to be motivating.
  • Teachers must provide children with learning opportunities that enable them to advance to 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 by themselves and learn by discovery.
  • Teachers should be concerned with the process of learning rather than the end product.  For example, the teacher should watch how a child handles and 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, therefore, important for teachers to provide a lot of opportunities for paired work and small group when conducting activities in the classroom.
  • Piaget believed teachers act as guides in children's discovery learning and the curriculum should be adapted to individual needs and intellectual levels.


Examples of Classroom Cognitive Games


Cognitive games are designed to help stimulate various regions of the brain.  Cognitive games are used to improve reflexes, help people learn, promote critical thinking, and help people with pattern of associations.  Cognitive games have proven to be helpful and are used when learning a foreign language and memorizing material for some people. People react differently to different techniques. What works for one, will not work for all.  There are many games that promote and influence cognitive development. 


Examples of cognitive games include computer exercises, sorting, flash cards, board games, and puzzles.  Below are some classroom games that you can explore at home or in the classroom.


  • Computer exercises: Most computer learning games focus on a combination of colors and sounds that stimulate toddlers' different senses while challenging various cognitive tasks.  Below are a few learning websites that are available that promote the cognitive theory.
  • Sorting games: These games require individuals to use recognition and reasoning.  You can set up a game in which little ones sort by various criteria, such as color, size, texture, or other physical attributes. Sorting games for toddlers are encouraging the child to sort blocks, toys, stuffed animals, textures, etc.  Leaf collecting is a sorting game that also requires the children to be physical as they are collecting their leaves. A more advanced approach to sorting is talking about what makes the items in each category alike.  This process promotes critical thinking.
  • Flash Cards: Flash cards can be used for almost anything. It is a set of cards with information, such as words and numbers, on either side, used in classroom for drills or private study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashcard. These cards are used as learning drills to aid memorization. Students and teachers use flash cards when studying different languages, vocabulary or even math. Flash cards can be purchased at the store, made on index cards, or found on free websites that allow you personalize your flash cards. Remember flash cards  are not just used for studying for exams and learning new things you can have fun while you use them. If you are interested in using flash cards on your computer, visit:  http://quizlet.com/
  • Board Games: Board games help children develop cognitive skills. Unlike on-line games, board games are tangible. They are something children can touch with pieces that move. Board games are simply more "real" in that sense and that sense of reality helps with a child's ability to focus. Monopoly and Bingo are two games to consider in the classroom.
  • Puzzles: Solutions to puzzles may require recognizing patterns and creating a particular order. People with a high inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving these puzzles than others.  In line with Piaget’s theory, it is believed that by actively playing with puzzles that can be explored or manipulated, a child will be more likely to understand concepts and further develop his or her own theories about them. Below are some examples of puzzles. 


 Rubik's Cube File:CrosswordUK.svg British-style crossword puzzle.




Implications Related to Technology Use


The introduction of computers into the educational system was led by the assumption, which persisted throughout the 1970s, that computers would replace teachers (“Computers for Cognitive”).  The introduction of computers into the educational system is an innovation that requires extensive involvement of teachers including changes in teaching methods and in defining the teacher’s role in class.  Young children are intrigued with technology of computers and can successfully play with and operate state-of-the-art computers. Children are familiar with every aspect of the computer technology and are not afraid to use it, in contrast to many of the parents, teachers and other adults who are afraid of the sophisticated technology. Adults are going to have to get involved and learn how to use the different technology in the classroom because computer technology works best when you have the interaction of both teacher and student during the learning process. 


Computers are an essential part of education and they are not going anywhere.  If anything, computers and the programs are becoming more and more advanced and exciting to the children. The use of computers at early age should be minimized and monitored due to the attention span of young children and toddlers.  Finding the right balance between computer games and hands on activities is essential when developing the younger children. Currently, studies are indicating that computers are not conducive to better learning and thinking.  Based on several studies it may be concluded that the use of computers in early childhood may impede the intellectual and social development of young children (“Computers for Cognitive”). The studies concluded that computers prevent children from interacting with classmates, teachers, and adults, which develops interpersonal 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. January 29, 2001. <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.<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. January 1, 2004. <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. 4 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. March 9, 2001. <http://www.le.ac.uk/education/resources/SocSci/piaget.html>


Instructional Technology and Media for Learning, Learning Theory-Cognitivism (http://simonlin.info/learningtheory/cognitivism.htm


Johnson, Charlotte. “Cognitive Learning Games for Toddlers.” eHow Contributors. No Date <http://www.ehow.com/way_5293023_cognitive-learning-games-toddlers.html>


Rom, Noa. “Puzzles and Cognitive Development.” Conceptis Puzzles. September 7, 2001. <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. 3 Feb. 2011. <http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Piaget's_Constructivism>.


I tried to add this as a comment but kept receiving an error message:


Group Process Issues:
As far as how your group divided up tasks, that is one way to accomplish your goals. However, it does not really represent collaboration. Each of you completed your assignment independently. You did not discuss what the other was learning in order to benefit from each other's research. In fact, you continued to separate out who did what rather than consider the page as a product of the entire group. A collaborative relationship includes a commitment to a definition of mutual relationships and goals; a jointly developed structure/shared responsibility; mutual authority and accountability for success; and sharing of resources and rewards.

Group members must trust each other. That trust was significantly tested because two members failed to participate. Collaborating members believe they benefit from their involvement. I'm not sure that belief materialized. Collaborating partners are able to compromise, since many decisions within a collaborative effort cannot possibly fit the preferences of every member perfectly. I did see some of this starting to happen this weekend. Members of a collaborative group feel “ownership” of both the way the group works and the results or product of its work. Did that happen? Perhaps I'll see from your self-evaluations.

The collaborative group remains open to varied ways of organizing itself and accomplishing its work. Collaborating partners clearly understand their roles, rights, & responsibilities, and how to carry out those responsibilities. The group has the ability to sustain itself in the midst of major changes, even if it needs to change some major goals, members, etc., in order to deal with changing conditions. Collaborative group members interact often, update one another, discuss issues openly, and convey all necessary information to one another and to people outside the group. In addition to formal channels of communication, members establish personal connections — producing a better, more informed, and cohesive group.

As I explained, the project was not only about the product. I was also about the process--learning how to work together to accomplish a common goal for the mutual benefit of all. That is why I offered the group the option of continuing to work together in the hopes that they would get past the "storming stage" and moving into the "norming" and "performing" stages. It takes some groups longer to get their act together than others.

You will be involved in at least three other group projects in this course--as well as committee work and teams in your personal and/or professional lives. What can you learn from your experience? How can you continue learning together?

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