Friday, March 11, 2011

Cognitivism - Reflections

I have really enjoyed learning more about the cognitivist learning theory because of its practical uses in the classroom. Our group discussions about cognitivism have illustrated the many ways that this learning theory can be applied. Our consensus seems to be that cognitivism is more often used as a technique to help students apply what they have learned, thus moving that learning from short term memory to long term memory. This application of learned material differs significantly from the rote memorization of behaviorism. Though memorization does have its usefulness, the application of knowledge is a central goal in education.

I think that my favorite part of learning more about this theory, was learning about the various cognitive activities that can be used in the classroom. Our reading material and our group discussions revealed many activities that are aligned with cognitivism. I learned that cognitivism is a teacher driven transmission of knowledge, with learners using specific techniques that help cement that knowledge into the framework of long term memory. The activities include concept mapping, brainstorming, outlining, mnemonics, the use of graphic organizers, etc.. These activities help students organize learned material, relate it to prior knowledge, and find a spot for it in long term memory. I especially enjoyed using a mnemonic device in my project. I had forgotten just how useful they are.

In the future, I plan to use more of these activities in my classroom. As I have learned in this class, technology can help me achieve this goal. I found that there are numerous web sites available that help teachers and students to easily create their own cognitive activities. Two of my favorite sites were and Both sites allow the teacher or students to create concept maps or graphic organizers.

Reflecting on the cognitivist learning theory, I now understand its important contributions to the field of education. It allows teachers and students to move past that first stage in Bloom's Taxonomy. Higher level learning can take place when students go beyond memorization. True cognition takes place when teachers transmit knowledge to students who then apply that knowledge in some significant way.