Cognitivism in Practice

The resources I have read and watched this week provided a number of excellent instructional strategies that correlate to the cognitive learning theory.  They help to strengthen memory and understanding by increasing engagement, making connections to previous learning, and by making the learning more meaningful, and thereby, increasing retention.  Here are the strategies that I felt were the most applicable to my classroom situation and are ones that I would like to integrate more often into my practice:

Concept Mapping-  I like the ideas about advance organizers on pages 75-76 in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  Our grade level takes various field trips during the year and having them research and create a brochure beforehand and then add to it after the experience is a wonderful strategy.  It is a good way to activate prior learning and integrate new concepts into memory.  I am looking forward to trying it!

Integration of Multiple Senses- In the video Cognitive Learning Theories, Dr. Orey (Laureate, 2011) states that information should be presented using as many senses as possible (visually, auditory, kinesthetically) for the learner to create a lasting memory.  Technology in the classroom, and in particular, the use of a computer with a projector or a Smart board really facilitates this strategy.  Students can see icons/pictures along with words and can manipulate these things to construct meaning.  I use this strategy frequently in my classroom, but I am usually the one manipulating the computer and the students are more passive in watching and responding verbally.   It would be more effective to have the students active in the process and be able to create and explore more of the content on their own computer or with a partner.  Perhaps using the portable computer lab would facilitate interactive learning activities.

In Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007), the authors also suggest using multimedia (video, graphics) to activate background knowledge and to reach students with various learning styles.  I often begin a new series of lessons with video clips or pictures and notice that my students are much more engaged when I do this, but I could definitely do this more often to make lessons more memorable.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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8 Responses to Cognitivism in Practice

  1. Jodi Cain says:

    I just tried to use an online concept mapping tool with my class today. I used the site, SpiderScribe (, to create a map to go along with a virtual field trip. My students had no prior experience using a concept map online. They have seen concept mapping done in the form of a graphic organizer, but they were very excited to try this new online tool. I allowed my students to work in small groups on laptops to create maps and then we took information from their groups to make a class concept map. I also allowed them to bring images into the concept map because, as Dr. Michael Orey (2011) mentioned in the video resource this week, images help with dual coding and long term memory storing.
    Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.

  2. butkusfamily says:

    I am doing a similar activity tomorrow with my students! We have used thinking maps on paper all year, but this will be our first try at an online version. How were you able to get students to create them? Did they sign up for a SpiderScribe user account or did you use something else? Any advice for me?

  3. Melissa says:

    I also had the students do that this week. I found that it was easier for my younger students to work it out with me. After completing the virtual field trip, I explained the process of creating the map. Together we came up with the ideas as to what should be on the map to provide the most information about the topic. Then I added questions nodes that the children had to discuss together and at the end of discussion we added each groups answers to the map. It was a fun new interactive way of organizing the information learned. Like Jodi, I also used SpiderScribe. It was very easy to work with. Uding the concept map in class gave children a chance to integrate multiple senses like you mentioned in your post.

  4. Jodi Cain says:

    I hope the SpiderScribe worked out for you and your class. It really was easy to work with. I definitely suggest using paper and pencil along with the online map as my class had a tendency to get off topic easily and add excessive amounts of information to their maps. This was a first experience with this type of concept mapping for my fifth graders, so I felt like it was successful in the classroom.

  5. butkusfamily says:

    Thanks for the advice ladies! It went pretty well and I learned a few things for next time. I had my students comment on what went well with both the virtual field trip and the thinking map and they also gave me some suggestions for the the future, which were insightful!

  6. Mark Fisher says:

    Just something I thought of to add to what you ladies have already discussed. You mentioned the use of a smartboard in your blog, as well. Have you thought about having the students come to the board and connect different aspects of the concept map themselves? Depending on what your topic or central node was, you could have students use the touch screen technology of the smartboard to connect key concepts themselves, and this might also help with your kinesthetic learners. Just a thought, let me know what you think.


  7. butkusfamily says:

    I have used a smart board in a previous classroom, but don’t have access to one where I am now (sob!). I would definitely do that, though, if I had one!

  8. Melissa says:


    That is a good idea. I think I will have my students do that the next time I try concept mapping.

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