Cognitive Learning Theories

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Cognitive Learning Theories by Mind Map: Cognitive Learning Theories

1. Perspectives on Cognitive Development

1.1. Cognitive development emerges from social interactions and experiences, as asserted by Piaget; and guided learning (i.e. Vygotsky’s viewpoint). The sequence, as opposed to age, that is proposed in Piaget’s theory is maturity rather than sheer mental processing capability. The maturity emerges from experience, but also from guided learning. Both are critical within the dynamic of the learning environment. Guided learning shapes our experiences because of what is learned, where as experience provides a frame of reference for learning.

2. Jean Piaget: A developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his studies on cognitive development with children.

2.1. 1. Constructivism:

2.1.1. This theoretical perspective suggests that knowledge is developed from experience. As children experience more things, they are able to combine these experiences in such a way that they devise concepts and processes through active learning. “Simply telling the truth about something could not make [children] understand it.” (Duckworth, 1979, p.298)

2.1.1.1. Application of the Theory:

2.1.1.1.1. According to Piaget, students develop knowledge through active learning experiences. Field studies are extremely beneficial to this type of learning. Taking the students out of the classroom into a hands-on learning environment where all five senses are alert provides an active learning environment where students are experiencing the curriculum and more likely to develop concepts. An example of application for this theory would be taking a high school physics class to an amusement park. On this field study, students are able to apply the various theories and principles of physics as they experience them riding the different attractions throughout the park.

2.2. 2. Interactions with Physical and Social Environments are Essential for Cognitive Development

2.2.1. According to Piaget, active experimentation and manipulation with physical activities and objects are equally essential to cognitive development as the social interactions adolescents have amongst each other (Ormrod, 27).

2.2.1.1. Application of the Theory:

2.2.1.1.1. The application of this particular theory can be seen across all grade levels. As students grow older, it is crucial that they experience discussions, debates, disagreements, and display inquisitiveness when concerned with intricate or complicated issues. This allows students to better understand their own reasoning, as well as the reasoning and perspectives of others. As students grow older, they also experience different types of hands on learning. In earlier years, we encourage students to work with a variety of manipulative tools incorporating all subject areas including sensory tables for science and math manipulative tools to assist in developing fine motor skills. As students advance, we require them to take experimentation with physical objects further. In high school biology, students are required to conduct dissections on specimens to better understand anatomy. They are also required to conduct experiments in chemistry to better experience and witness chemical reactions. This theory is crucial to the overall cognitive development of students.

3. Lev Vygotsky: A developmental psychologist known for his theories of the development of higher cognitive functions in children.

3.1. 1. Zone of Proximal Development:

3.1.1. Students can learn through intellectual imitation both inside and outside the classroom. This theory encourages collaboration with adults in the form of guided learning and cooperation with peers. Both aspects encourage the development of stronger problem-solving skills in adolescents (Gredler, 2011).

3.1.1.1. Application of the Theory:

3.1.1.1.1. For high school students, it is important to understand the expectations and work ethic necessary for college. As an introduction to college planning, the students work collaboratively to put together a puzzle. Some groups have all the pieces and a full picture on the box. Others are lacking in either component. Students are then required to put the puzzle together regardless of what is provided to them. This illustration is used as a metaphor for developing a plan for college admissions with the pieces representing the various factors contributing to this plan. This activity transitions from a “social activity” where student are collaborating with their peers as well as the teacher, to a “mental activity” where they began to understand the application of the concepts.

3.2. 2. Thinking of the Adolescent:

3.2.1. There is a shift in cognitive development as adolescents transition from relying on memory to applying critical and higher order thinking. This type of thinking does not fully develop until the end of adolescence (Gredler, 2011). In the words of Vygotsky, "the adolescent understands reality, understands others, and understands him or herself."

3.2.1.1. Application of the Theory:

3.2.1.1.1. The Vygotsky theory of this form of cognitive development can best be displayed in student writing. Argumentative writing has become a predominant part of the curriculum and standards for middle and high school students. As students grow and experience more, they are able to apply higher order thinking skills, develop arguments using evidence and commentary, and truly reflect as they have a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. It is important for students to develop this type of thinking and apply it to their writing as this is a crucial part of their educational and professional careers.

4. Piaget vs. Vygotsky

4.1. Similarities

4.1.1. Social interaction is a key component for learning and development; knowledge is not based on a a series of responses to stimuli (i.e. behaviorism) but rather a constructed based on language, culture, environment and experiences (i.e. constructivism).

4.1.2. Thinking processes become more complex with age and experience. By providing tasks that are increasingly challenging is vital to development. (Ormrod, 2014, p. 44)

4.2. Differences

4.2.1. Vygotsky emphases the roles that adults play in the development of children through guided explanation and instruction; Piaget celebrates self-exploration and discovery (Ormrod, 2014, p.44)

4.2.2. Piaget identifies four distinct stages of development while Vygotsky asserts that development is continuous and divided into stages; Piaget believes that learning takes place as a result adaption while Vygotsky theorizes a Zone of Proximal Development and guided learning in which development takes place through imitation and scaffolding.

4.2.3. Vygotsky believes that culture and language play an very important role in the thinking skills acquired by children while Piaget recognizes that different cultural backgrounds and language can make a difference in how children learn and formulate their environment.