Cognition and Learning

Cognition and Learning

Blessing Nma Okrigwe
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-817-3.ch027
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Because of the failure of the behaviorist tradition in developing the full potential of the individual, there is a shift to a cognitive paradigm which emphasizes the process of learning as against methods of teaching. Each of us has the potential to excel if we have the right opportunities at the right time of our development and backed up with a stimulating environment in the process of learning. The effectiveness of any teaching learning process is measured by the extent to which it has met the individual’s needs and expectations. The cognitive view of learning refers to individual’s mode of thinking, remembering or problem-solving, because learners learn in different ways of absorbing information and demonstrating their knowledge. Individualized instruction is a personalized learning which meaningfully involves only the learner working on his own and at his own pace. On a practical level, a personalized learning environment entails flexibility to enable learners to interact with resources when it is most appropriate for them. There is awareness that many learners today are already creating personalized learning environments using digital resources. Without digital technology, meeting individual learner needs will be practically impossible. The implications of the introduction of technologies in homes and schools have created the problem of reinforcing the existing inequalities in the education system of the developed and developing countries. To arrest this situation, there is the need to ensure that access to digital resources is universal. Without a commitment to this goal, the learning landscape will be easily navigable only by those with the relevant economic and cultural resources. The present evolutionary trend in education technology has enhanced mass education making learning to be more individualized. Innovations in teaching and learning have thus been dominated by computer and the Internet.
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Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology developed around the late 1950s when technology was developing computers capable of manipulating large amounts of data very rapidly. Over the last two decades cognitive psychology has been widely embraced because of the insights the theories have demonstrated in describing and explaining cognitive processes such as thinking and problem-solving. Cognitive theories deal with intrinsic motivation. Motivation serves to create intentions and goal seeking acts. Cognitive views of learning refer to an individual’s mode of thinking, remembering, or problem-solving (Santrock, 2003). There is a tendency to behave in a certain manner known as mental models. Mental models are representations of reality that people use to understand specific phenomena. These models provide prediction and explanatory power for understanding the interaction. Cognitive psychology studies mental processes underlying behavior. It uses information processing as a framework for understanding the mind. Furthermore, cognitive psychology also makes and attempt at understanding the nature of mental representation that underline perception since most of the relationships that we establish with the environment are carried out through perception. Cognitive psychology is, therefore, the science that studies mental activities in terms of information processing (reasoning), concept formation, recognition, imagination, and problem-solving.

Cognitive psychologists focus on the way human’s process information. They apply a homothetic approach where cognitive changes are said to be common to children across cultures to discover human cognitive processes. They also have adopted idiographic techniques through using case studies. They argue that those who emphasize the homothetic approach may often see more orderliness than actually exists (Gray, 1990). This chapter attempts to adopt the case study approach in recommending the intervention strategies which are highly dependent upon the nature of the task and differences across learners.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Schema: In Piaget’s theory, this is a cognitive structure that helps individuals organizes and understands their experiences.

Perception: Is the foundation of learning. It is the process whereby an individual becomes aware of his environment. It is a selective process and an individual style of perception is unique to such individual’s previous experience, attitude, knowledge and interest.

Mnemonic Device: A system for enhancing memory work. It involves a set of symbols that can substitute for the material to be remembered. The common example, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, used for the notes on a music staff.

Scaffolding: In cognitive development, Vygotsky used this term to describe the changing support over the course of a teaching session, with the more skilled person adjusting guidance to fit the child’s current performance level.

Cognition: A general term covering all the various modes of knowing – perceiving, remembering, imagining, conceiving, judging, and reasoning. The cognitive function, as an ultimate mode or aspect of the conscious life is, contrasted with the affective and cognitive-feeling and willing (Drever, 1952).

Concepts: This is our means of dividing the world into Manageable units (Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, & Hilgard, 1987). To have a concept is to know the properties common to all. Concepts are categorization of objects, events, people or animals that share common characteristics. Such categorization enables us to organize complex information into simpler, easily manageable cognitive categories.

Cue: Signal to do something.

Programmed Learning: A teaching method which places emphasis on teacher’s written communication. It is a method whereby the learner teaches himself by working though a series of steps all leading to carefully defined goals or objectives. He cannot go on to the next step until he has mastered the preceding one, based on the feedback received through the answers to the questions. The information to be taught is presented in a form known as a “Program.” Programs can be presented either in book form or through machines.

Concept Mapping: E.g., setting out the relationship between key ideas in a topic in diagram form.

Metacognition: Is an internal awareness of cognitive abilities, including self-awareness of both learning and retrieval strategies (Sprinthal, Sprinthal, & Oja, 1994). Whereas cognition helps us to learn, metacognition helps us to monitor and structure our learning strategies. Thinking about thinking and deciding how best to manage mental processes.

Chunking: This is the grouping together of several separate items in order to aid in their retrieval. Short term memory can encode only about seven separate items (plus or minus two) and can hold them for only limited time (e.g., the 11 digits phone number—08066734720—can be chunked like 08066-734-720). Each chunk is counted as an item.

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