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COGNITIVIST LEARNING THEORY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON CLASSROOM TEACHING AND

LEARNING

1. INTRODUCTION

Learning is an innate ability in humans and every human being is able to learn without
the knowledge of the intricate processes that made it possible. Illeris, (2000); generalizes
learning as “any processes that in living organisms leads to permanent capacity change and
which is not solely due to biological maturation or aging." He elaborated further, describing
learning as the process of combining influences and experiences of cognition, emotion, and the
environment in order to acquire, enhance, or make changes in one's knowledge, values, skills,
and world views. It is a complex but universal process of converting information and experience
into skills, behaviors and decision making. Scholars have tried to explain learning through many
different theories to understand it better and use the knowledge to aid in teaching efforts. These
theories are based on the assumption made after thorough observation of the learning process
itself. However, different bases also meant that each learning theory implicates different
approaches in the classroom teaching and learning. This academic paper will focus on the
cognitivist theory and its implications towards classroom teaching and learning.

2. COGNITIVIST LEARNING THEORY


2.1. BACKGROUND
Cognitivism is a school of thought that arose as a response to the earlier behaviorism
theory, citing the former’s lack of acknowledgement to the cognitive process, and its attempts to
justify cognition as a response to stimulus as incomplete, (Rhalmi, 2012). This backlash was
mostly prompted by Noam Chomsky’s criticism of behaviorism, arguing that language cannot be
acquired by conditioning alone in his famous language acquisition device theory. This prompted
a whole generation of scholars to try and explain the basis of cognitive learning.

Blanchette and Richards (2010), defined cognitive learning as the mental process of
perception, memory, judgment and reasoning. In cognitive learning, the human brain is likened
to a computer, with information being fed, processed, evaluated, and then outputted or stored in
a systematic and calculated manner. Cognitive learning theory is based upon 6 principles;

1. The human brain actively thinks to understand the environment.


2. Learning and development depend on learner’s experiences.
3. Learners are mentally active in their attempts to make sense of those
experiences.
4. Learners construct knowledge in the process of developing an
understanding of their experiences. Learners do not record
knowledge.
5. Knowledge that is constructed depends on knowledge that learners
already possess.
6. Learning is enhanced in a social environment.

List 1 (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)

The changes in behavior that resulted from learning is not considered as conditioned
behavior. Rather, it is only an indication to what is happening inside the learner’s head. Another
key difference is that cognitive learning theory does not incorporate the need for other stimuli
except the information being learned to produce changes in behavior.

Cognitive learning theory is very grounded and is a solid theory to build a lesson plan on
because of its emphasis on the workings of the brain and lack of uncontrollable variable to be
taken into account during execution. It doesn’t need the tedious repetition of behavior
conditioning neither the student knowledge prerequisites of constructivism-influenced teaching.
However, it can not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution either.

2.2. IMPLICATIONS OF COGNITIVIST LEARNING THEORIES ON CLASSROOM


TEACHING AND LEARNING
In order to fully utilize the potential of teaching and learning (T&L), a teacher should be
able to draw examples from the theory itself. The to do’s of a good cognitivism-based T&L
should correspond to its principles, as shown in List 1. List 2 below lists the implications
respective to its corresponding principle in List 1 respectively.

1. Emphasize active participation in activities. The brain is more


receptible to knowledge it had practiced and repetitions will help in
knowledge retention.
2. Learning content, standard and material should be based on pupils’
cognitive development stage and their level of thinking.
3. Encourage high order thinking skills and asking questions.
4. 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.
5. Promote naturalism in learning that is pupils’ learning should occur
naturally according to their development stages and should not be
pushed and pressured to acquire skill or knowledge beyond their
ability.
6. Encourage groupworks and discussions. 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.

List 2

The above list is merely a sample of the many implications of cognitive learning. Other
than those, teachers must also be aware of limitations in the cognitive-learning theory. The lack
of emphasis on the more delicate parts of the human psych can be downfall for any inflexible
teachers who can’t adapt to the tasks at hand.

2.3. ACTIVITIES FOR COGNITIVISM-BASED CLASSROOM TEACHING &


LEARNING
2.3.1. NEWSCASTING
Cognitivism learning theory is best practiced hands-on to get results fast. Therefore, it
most definitely is at home during activities with students. Newscasting is a very fun and
interactive activity to enhance cognitive reception and performance in students. In this activity,
students have to present what they are learning for the particular lesson as if they are
newscasters. This game is based on the informational processing teaching model. It is a task-
based approach that will help to develop communication skills and self-esteem. Executed
flawlessly, this activity will prove to be beneficial to the students and will help achieve learning
objectives in the lesson.
3. SUMMARY
In summary, learning is a complex human function that is critical in education. What
precious little we know about it came from psychological theories such as cognitivism.
Cognitivist learning theory is a learning theory that places emphasis on the cognition part of the
brain and how to leverage it for maximum efficiency in T&L by having a proper understanding
and solid grasp in it. This can include taking some extra measures in the classroom and
preparing appropriate activities for a lesson. In conclusion, a learning theory is the basis of
teaching and learning.
REFERENCES
Blanchette, I., & Richards, A., (2010). The influence of affect on higher level cognition: A review
of research on interpretation, judgment, decision making and reasoning. Cognition &
Emotion, 24(4), 561-595.
Eggen, P. & Kauchak, D. (2010). Educational psychology: windows on classrooms (8th. Ed.).
French's Forest: Pearson.
Illeris, K., (2002). The three dimensions of learning: contemporary learning theory in the tension
field between the cognitive, the emotional and the social. Denmark: Roskilde University
Press.
Rhalmi, M. (2011). Description of cognitivism. Retrieved from My English Pages website:
https://www.myenglishpages.com/blog/description-of-cognitivism/
Strauch, Claire & Alomar, Muaed. (2014). Critical analysis of learning theories and ideologies
and their impact on learning: " review article "The Online Journal of Counseling and
Education, 2014, 3(2) 62-77.
Teaching and Learning Resources. (n.d.). Cognitivism. Retrieved from
http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/31012664/Cognitivism
Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................... 1

2. COGNITIVIST LEARNING THEORY.......................................................................................1

2.1. BACKGROUND................................................................................................................1

2.2. IMPLICATIONS OF COGNITIVIST LEARNING THEORIES ON CLASSROOM


TEACHING AND LEARNING..................................................................................................2

2.3. ACTIVITIES FOR COGNITIVISM-BASED CLASSROOM TEACHING & LEARNING.....3

2.3.1. NEWSCASTING.........................................................................................................3

3. SUMMARY.............................................................................................................................. 4

REFERENCES............................................................................................................................ 5