The cognitive learning theory, or cognitivism, explores the mental and neurological process of thinking and learning. It also explores how we receive and store information.
Think of the brain as a file cabinet. As new information comes in or we adapt new ways of thinking, we store it and create “file folders,” also known as schemas. When we learn, we try to either “file” the information in existing folders by basing the knowledge on what we already know, or we can create new file folders.
This short video explains the cognitive learning theory and offers strategies for incorporating principles of cognitivism.
BlueSofaMedia. (2013). Use a learning theory: Cognitivism [Video] | Transcript. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=177&v;=gugvpoU2Ewo
Founding Contributor: Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a founding contributor to the cognitive learning theory. Access the following video to watch demonstrations of concepts founded by Piaget.
Select the Experience and Mental Maturity segment to watch the connection between content knowledge and the process of knowing.
Select the Object Permanence segment to watch a demonstration of the cognitive learning theory in infancy.
Select the Permanent Object Schema segment to view the explanation of holding a schema to identify and discuss objects with a shared understanding of what they are.
Cognitive Learning Theory in Action
While cognitive learning helps us store and organize information, to understand how it applies to our everyday lives as college students, read this resource.
Miller, A. L., & Dumford, A. D. (2016). Creative cognitive processes in higher education. Journal of Creative Behavior, 50(4), 282–293.
Listen to this discussion about theories of cognition and learning, which provides examples of cognitivism in practice.
Theories of Learning and Instruction: Cognition and Learning.
Social Learning Theory
The social learning theory explores how people learn through social interaction, demonstration, observation, or modeling behaviors. The social learning theory is seen as a connection between the behavioral learning theory and the cognitive learning theory because it postulates that learning is not only dependent on reinforcement of actions but on learning through processes.
Visit this website to see the connection between the social learning theory, behavioral learning theory, and the cognitive theory.
McLeod, S. (2016). Bandura – social learning theory. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html
Founding Contributor: Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura is a founding contributor to the social learning theory. The following video illustrates Bandura’s work.
Davidson Films Inc. (Producer). (2003). Bandura’s social cognitive theory: An introduction [Video]. Films On Demand.
Select the Triadic Model segment to watch the interaction between personal experience, behavior, and environment.
Select the Modeling and Observational Learning – 4 Processes segment to watch a demonstration of the four processes of observational learning in children.
Social Learning Theory in Action
While social learning can occur throughout our learning experiences from infancy, it can also apply to your life as a college student.
Mendo-Lázaro, S., León-del-Barco, B., Felipe-Castaño, E., Polo-del-Río, M.- I., & Iglesias-Gallego, D. (2018). Cooperative team learning and the development of social skills in higher education: The variables involved. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1536.
This article illustrates cooperative learning, which is learning from peers or small groups.
Social Learning Theory and Collaborative Teaching and Learning.
This short video demonstrates the social learning theory through collaborative learning.
Subhash, S., & Cudney, E. A. (2018). Gamified learning in higher education: A systematic review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 87, 192–206.
This article explains how gamification can be used to improve learning in higher education.
Where behaviorism focuses on the environment, the constructivist theory, or constructivism, looks at how individuals uniquely build knowledge based on their personal or subjective understanding of what they are learning. This is usually based on their prior knowledge or experiences.
For example, when you listen to a teacher or presenter speak, or you read a chapter from a textbook, you will understand the information differently than anyone else sitting in the class or reading the same chapter. Each person will not construct knowledge on the material in the same way.
This website provides a definition of constructivism, how constructivism differs from traditional teaching, and examples of the theory in practice.
Educational Broadcasting Corporation. (2004). Constructivism as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Retrieved from https://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html
Founding Contributor: Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori was a founding contributor to the constructivist theory. You may have heard of Montessori education, where learning is more self-directed and collaborative, and children often make more choices in their learning.
To learn more about constructivism in practice with children, watch the video below.
Davidson Films Inc. (Producer). (2004). Maria Montessori: Her life and legacy [Video]. Films On Demand.
Select the The Learner segment to watch children learn through work and natural practice.
Select the The Prepared Environment segment to watch children learning through choice and practical life experiences.
Select the Trained Adult segment to watch how teachers act more as facilitators in a constructivist classroom.
Constructivist Learning Theory in Action
Although constructivist research can be based on children, the following article applies the constructivist theory to higher education and offers constructivist learning strategies.
Zielinski, D. E. (2017). The use of collaboration, authentic learning, linking material to personal knowledge, and technology in the constructivist classroom: Interviews with community college faculty members. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 41(10), 668–686.
This article breaks down defining attributes of constructivism and offers small case studies that provide examples of the constructivist theory with nursing students.
Fletcher, K. A., Hicks, V. L., Johnson, R. H., Laverentz, D. M., Phillips, C. J., Pierce, L. N. B., . . . Gay, J. E. (2019). A concept analysis of conceptual learning: A guide for educators. The Journal of Nursing Education, 58(1), 7–15.
Choose Your Theory
Choose one of the three following theories to use for your assessment:
Cognitive learning theory.
Social learning theory.
You will also need to incorporate at least two scholarly journal articles in your assessment. Review the articles and video clips in the Resources that relate to your chosen theory, as they provide examples of the type of articles you should find as well as key words that you could use while researching.
Creating a Brochure
Watch the following tutorial if you need help on creating a brochure in Microsoft Word.
Howtech. (2013). How to make a brochure in Microsoft Word [Video] | Transcript. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-wuhi2W-Yc
Design a brochure or flyer advertising an educational service for college-level students. Some examples you may choose include learning groups, support services, tutoring services, supplemental instruction, et cetera. With the theory you selected in mind, include the following in your brochure or flyer:
Describe the service you are advertising.
Explain the relationship between the learning theory and the service.
Explain how the learning theory is applicable to the service.
Explain the benefits of the service using the learning theory.
Support your explanation with evidence from scholarly sources.
Explain three ways that the service will support college-level learning.
Support your explanation with evidence from scholarly sources.
Include reflections from your college-level student experiences.
Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
APA formatting: Resources and citations are formatted according to APA style and format.
Number of resources: Include a minimum of two current scholarly or professional resources.
Length of brochure or flyer: At your discretion.
Font and font size: Use your creativity and images to enhance your brochure or flyer.
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