Tertiary teaching in New Zealand/Educational culture in New Zealand/How do people learn?/Cognitivism

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How most of us were taught when we were in an educational institution. Assumptions include:

  1. There is an agreed body of knowledge which needs to be “delivered”.
  2. You need to be taught by experts. If you work hard you will be an expert one day.

However - the body of knowledge keeps changing - Experts are usually expert in old stuff!
Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving need to be explored. Knowledge can be seen as schema or symbolic mental constructions. Learning is defined as change in a learner’s mental state, not just a change in behaviour.
Cognitive theory suggests that people are not “programmed animals” that merely respond to environmental stimuli; people are rational beings that require active participation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking. Changes in behaviour are observed, but only as an indication of what is occurring in the learner’s head. Cognitivism uses the metaphor of the mind as computer: information comes in, is being processed, and leads to certain outcomes.

There are many variations on cognitive theory, but some of the ones that are most useful in adult education include: (click on the title to find out more)

  1. Cognitive apprenticeship
  2. Distributed cognition
  3. Elaboration theory
  4. Situated learning

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1. Read through the links above and choose one of the Cognitive approaches which suits your teaching style and your topic best.

2. Prepare a short lesson plan which shows how you would use the chosen theory in your teaching.

3. Explain how the theory would help the learners, remembering that we are focussing on adult learners.

Word count: Approximately 200 words.

When you are ready, upload your document to the assignment tool in Moodle with your name in the file title.