Cognitive Learning Theory

Published: 2021-10-08 16:45:16
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Cognitive Learning Theory Psychology of Learning PSY 331 October 12, 2009 Abstract Cognitive learning theories emerged in the mid-1900s and were a dramatic departure from the behaviorist learning theories so popular at the time. The advent of the computer also contributed to the emergence of cognitive theories of learning because computers provided the first means to “metaphorically conceptualize human cognition” (Bates, 1999). Cognitive learning theories are based on the assumption that the student is an active learner, that the student actively processes information.
These theories emphasize internal processing of information and material to which a student is exposed. Processing include receiving information, processing it and storing it for subsequent recall. The three names most often associated with cognitive learning theories are Bruner, Ausubel and Gagne. These recognized authorities emphasized different aspects of cognitive learning. Bruner emphasized categorization and developing a general concept from examples. Ausubel emphasized reception of information and the need to link that to prior learning.
Ausubel gave us the advanced organizer. Gagne looked at the steps or events in learning; he viewed learning as a series of steps. This essay also provides an outline of the key elements in cognitive learning theory. Cognitive Learning Theory Cognitive learning theories are concerned with the processes that go on inside the brain as a person learns, i. e. , the internal processing of information (Bates, 1999; Cooper, 2005). These theories are based on the perspectives that students actively process information and that learning ccurs when students organize that information, store it “and then find relationships between information, linking new to old knowledge, schema, and scripts” (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). The major premise in the cognitive school is that “humans take in information from their environment through their senses and then process the information mentally” (Epsychlopedia, 2000). Mental processing involves the acts of organizing the information, manipulating it to gain greater understanding, storing the new information in the memory and then relating this new information to information that is already stored in the memory (Epsychlopedia, 2000).
Cooper (2005) explained: “Contemporary research regarding cognitive learning theories has focused on information procession, memory, metacognition, theories of transfer, computer simulations, artificial intelligence, mathematical learning models. ” These theories were a departure from the behaviorist model, the movement from behaviorism to cognitivism was called the “cognitive revolution” (Bates, 1999). The advent of the computer also contributed to this movement because computers “provided a means to metaphorically conceptualize human cognition” (Bates, 1999).
As Bates (1999) explains this turnaround in language, “stimulus became inputs; response became outputs, and what occurred in between was information processing. ” There are three theorists most commonly associated with cognitive learning theories: Jerome Bruner, David Ausubel and Robert Gagne (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). Cognitive learning theories are diverse and each of these theorists emphasized different aspects, however, they were all recognized as authorities in their fields (Cooper, 2005; NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). Bruner promoted discovery learning, which complemented Piaget’s stages of cognitive development (NSW HSC Online, n. . ). He believed teaching and learning needed to include “concrete, pictorial then symbolic activities” (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). This, he said, would lead to more effective learning experiences (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). Bruner’s work also focused on categorization and concept formation (Cooper, 2005). Bruner’s hands-on approach is along the lines of the constructivist approach to learning (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). Discovery learning is about leading the student to learn and discover for them selves (University of Natal, 2005).
The teacher helps guide the student toward discovery and learning (University of Natal, 2005). Ausubel discussed the differences between rote learning, meaningful learning and the active nature of learning (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). Ausubel also emphasized prior learning and initiated a learning tool called the advanced organizer (Cooper, 2005). The advanced organizer has its foundation in Gestalt psychology, which “taught that information is learned by understanding how information fits together, how it interrelates, and how it is organized” (Bates, 1999).
Ausubel discussed expository and comparative organizers (Bates, 1999). The expository advanced organizer focused on new material emphasizing general concepts; the comparative advanced organized emphasize material the student already knows (Bates, 1999). One of the major differences between Bruner and Ausubel was that Bruner emphasized inductive learning, using specific observations or examples to determine the general rule or concept, and Ausubel emphasized deductive reasoning, learning a general rule or principle and then applying that to examples (University of Natal, 2005).
Both emphasized meaningful learning but said this could only be achieved through different approaches (University of Natal, 2005). For Bruner, that was discovery, and for Ausubel, it was meaningful reception, which means that something like a concept can only become meaningful if it is linked to something already known (University of Natal, 2005). Gagne may be most famous for his task analysis and sequencing ideas (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). His suggested sequence for learning anything included: aining the attention of the learner, telling the learner the objective of the task, stimulating recall of prior learning, presenting the new material to be learned, providing guidance for learning, eliciting performance, providing feedback regarding corrections needed, assessing performance and then enhancing retention and recall (NSW HSC Online, n. d. ). Gagne saw “learning and instruction as a series of phases, using the cognitive steps of coding, storing, retrieving and transferring information” (Cooper, 2005).
Some of the key concepts of the cognitive theory of learning are: * ·The learner is active in processing information (University of Natal, 2005). * ·Schema. This is an internal knowledge structure. It means the person compares new information to existing cognitive structures, which are called schema. The schema is then changed in some way to accept and accommodate the new information (Mergel, 1998). * ·Three-Stage Information Processing Model. Information enters the sensory register, which means the individual receives information from their senses.
This only lasts a few seconds before it is replaced. The information may be sent to the short-term memory where it remains for about 20 seconds. It might stay longer if the person rehearses that bit of information. The greatest amount that can be retained in short-term memory is about 7 items. If information is categorized or put into chunks, such as a telephone number, it can be retained in short-term memory longer. The information then goes to long-term memory and storage, which has unlimited capacity. Rote memorization can move information into long-term memory.
However, it is the deeper levels of information processing that retain information, such as making links between old and new information or, as mentioned earlier, by categorizing (Mergel, 1998). Meaningful Effects. Any information that is meaningful to a person is easier to learn and retain. Also, if the learner can link the new information to a prior schema that is meaningful, it will be easier to learn and remember (Mergel, 1998). Serial Position Effects. The position of the information makes it easier or harder to learn and remember.
For instance, the items on a list that are at the beginning or end will be easier to remember (Mergel, 1998). Practice Effects. Practicing and rehearsing information increases retention of that information (Mergel, 1998). Transfer Effects. Prior learning has an impact on new learning (Mergel, 1998). Organization Effects. When information is categorized, it is easier to learn and remember (Mergel, 1998). Mnemonic Effects. These are strategies we use to remember little bits of information, it is a way of categorizing what may have little meaning to something that is more meaningful.

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