e-Learning Wiki
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“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done-men who are creative, inventive and discovers” 

                                                                                      -Jean Piaget  


Cognitivism focuses on the mind, and more specifically, mental proceses such as thinking, knowing, memory, and problem-solving, with the goal of opening the “black box” of the human mind, the process of which is deemed valuable and necessary for learning to occur. Knowledge is approached as schema constructions, and learning is viewed as a change in the learner's schemata, or the redefining of prior knowledge.

Key Concepts and Words

  • Mind as a "Black Box"

    Black Box of the Mind. Retrieved October 4, 2012 from thecognitivehorse.com

  • Learning is explained as a "recall" 
    of stored information
  • Instruction usually grabs the attention of learners and helps make sense of the information so it can be stored more readily stored (learned) later for recall.
  • Schema Theory is defined as a mental representation of something previously known, including actions, events, and perspectives. These are the building blocks of knowledge.
  • Gestalt Theory states that perceptions are entirely dependent upon the whole and not of the individual parts. All of our understanding is built upon whole objects, events and not of their small parts.
  • Equilibrium is the state in which our minds exists before we learn something new. The process, called "adaption" by Piaget, flows as follows:
       Equilibrium-->New Situation/Schema-->Disequilibrium-->Accomodation-->Assimilation


Applications in Educational Technology

The best way for a teacher to approach using cognitivism in the classroom is to ask questions to help students refine their thinking and recognize where they may be wrong. You want to approach topics that they may think they already know and introduce some new aspect to make them redefine something. Alternately, for entirely new topics, you want to draw upon background knowledge before you challenge existing ideas (schema) and create learning toward amplification or change of those schemata.

A lesson in cognitivism


Quizlet.com Demo

Some great examples of Cognitivism in educational technology can be found in online games and reinforcement activities, such as sorting games, puzzles, and flashcards. These games will often present prior knowledge schema in a different method, thus creating disequilibrium and a need to adapt and learn the new information in order to continue. For example, the online resource Quizlet creates a means of listing vocabulary, pictures, and even mathematical procedures and then taking that list and producing several ways of practicing the previously known schemata, including the incorporation of audio and video.

Cognitive Development Implied in the Classroom

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. 

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.