Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cognitivism as a Learning Theory (Module 2)

It’s hard to walk away after reading Kerr’s (2007) blog on cognitivism and learning theories, as well as Kapp’s (2007) blog on educational schools of thought, without having a strong sense of one’s own ideals as they relate to learning behavior – and the important adjustments that must be made along the way to accomplish various learning objectives. As someone who embraces the constructivist philosophy strongly, thanks to the learning theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Gardner – among others – I find cognitivism and constructivism pivotal for both learner and educator in problem-solving and collaboration pedagogy. Simply, I just think that having a strong sense of how to make the most effective use of one’s knowledge, based on experiences, collaboration, and, yes, creative ways to augment existing knowledge, adds a dimension to constructivism that is paramount to the learning process.

The collaborative exchanges in both blogs speak volumes about how information involving cognitivism, behaviorism, connectivism and constructivism is processed and used. I’m a firm advocate of the kind of back and forth that ensues in blogging and similar e-learning venues, because it augments the learning process. The more information and ideas exchanged among connected individuals, in my view, the more opportunity there is for a highly instructive and insightful learning experience. What one does with that information from the learning experience, as in the case of the Kerr (2007) and Kapp (2007), has to serve as an enlightenment – if nothing more than the sharing of certain isms or beliefs related to knowledge and behavior.

Finally, a word about pragmatism. While I don’t suggest hoisting a moistened finger to the wind on every decision made, especially in educational technology, pragmatism has served learning theorists and education, itself, well over the years. Dewey’s (1938; 1997) well-documented pragmatic reforms on educational and social change, should serve as a primmer in the ever-burgeoning and ground-breaking world of educational technology. Dewey exhibited the kind of behavior that served as a springboard for much of what we as educators and learners enjoy in education today. One thing is for certain. Like pragmatism, isms -- as detailed in the Kerr (2007) blog – also must change to help improve the learning process. As such, cognitivism and constructivism are sure to continue to be reliable, if not trustworthy beliefs and components for  education overall. Let’s hope these ideals continue to move the learning process forward.

Dewey, J. (1938; 1997). Experience and education.
Kerr, B. (2007), January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about:  Discussions on educational schools of thought
           [Web log post]. Retrieved from


  1. Fred, this was truly insightful. I am going to refer to the area where you reference John Dewey's pragmatic reform on education. According to Dewey's (1938/1997) progressive education, "there is no discipline in the world so severe as the discipline of experience and the experimental method," (p. 90). How does Dewey ideas align with cognitivism?

    Take Care,

  2. Fred, this was a very insightful analogy of the articles. We can only pray that the future of education improves and not digress into the 20th century. We have to as serious about education as we are about economics in the 21st century. That means that everyone, teacher, parents and students have to help as we try to move forward with all the isms!

  3. Fred,

    You addressed your position very well on Kerr and Kapp’s blogs. I cannot imagine that history does not repeat itself. Well, it has and will continue to do so in our advanced technological society. In order to move ourselves and students forward, we must revisit and incorporate the learning theories of the past, present, and later theorists. Sure a theory could possibly function and stand alone. Eventually, each and every theory that evolves must connect with some aspect of another theory. For example, the core subjects’ teachers are teaching to the assessment exams. Is learning taking place? Perhaps, but to what degree are students learning? It is difficult to assess due to inside and outside factors which creates a less learning environment. Perhaps what an educational system requires is an instructional design to accommodate the diversity and needs of all students. I strongly stress that learning is more than just passing an assessment exam.

    Michele Baylor

    Have a Wonderful Year!!

  4. Hi Fred. Happy New year! I agree that blogs and similar participatory technologies are a useful tool for educators who subscribe to a constructivist viewpoint. The thing that I think sets these new technologies apart is, in fact, the participatory nature of them. These platforms give students the kind of authentic audience that was never possible in the unwired classroom. It was always a struggle for me as an English teacher to motivate reluctant writers when they knew the only audience for their work was me, the teacher. Now, even reluctant writers are motivated by a chance to voice their thinking with the wide world--and hear back from it as well. I wonder what Vygotsky would have done with his ZPD theory in light of these new technologies. I think he may have gotten more into researching how the ZPD plays out in adult learners.

  5. Hello Fred!

    And a happy New Year to you!

    I like the way you presented your thinking on constuctivist thinking and the other educational learning theories. As a classroom roboticist from time to time, I have stretched my thinking toward Dr. Papert's constructionism. He felt building knowledge can be assisted by building something concrete with that knowledge. When I'm thinking best, I'm making something with Legos or Tinkertoys in the science or robotics area.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!