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LESSON 9

COGNITIVE THEORY

Cognitive Theory is influenced by Gestalt Movement and later by Swiss


psychologist, Jean Piaget and Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky.

Gestalt Psychology
According to Gestaltists, behavior cannot be understood in term of its molecular
parts because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The word gestalt is of German origin which means pattern, shape, or form.
They hold the belief that the whole exhibits properties that cannot be understood by
analysing it into its component parts.
In addition, the Gestaltists view learning according to the laws governing the
perception of wholes. What we remember in any situation is determined more by how we
interpret or perceive its totality than by the objective elements of certain things.
Gestalt theory has generated five laws that govern perception. They are as follows:

1. Law of Continuity. The law states that we link individual elements together so
they form a continuous pattern that makes sense. Law of continuity accounts for
what the teacher does in the classroom. The manner in which lessons are presented
in a continuous manner can create a lasting impact on students. Succinctly, if the
lesson is presented with the repeated exercises or reinforcements, then learning the
material can be made easy.
2. Law of Closure. This law holds the idea that incomplete figures tend to be
perceived as complete. Our minds tend to fill in the gaps or missing parts of the
figures.
3. Law of Similarity. This law states that similar things appear to be grouped
together. This law emphasizes that objects are perceived as related to one another.
4. Law of Proximity. This law states that things are near to each other appear to be
grouped together. This law is concerned with the tendency to perceive objects that
are close to one another.
5. Law of Pragnanz. The word pragnanz is a German word which means good
figure. This law, also known as the law of simplicity and the law of good figure
states that every stimulus pattern is seen in such a way that the resultingstructure
is as simple as possible. This holds the belief that all possible organizations could
perceived in a stimulus array one that possesses the best, the simplest, and the
most stable from. It means that lessons which seem very important are
remembered. We remember the most significant part of the lesson or one that
stimulates us to think and learn.
Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget popularized the cognitive development.
Piagets theory of cognitive development described stages that children pass
through in the development of intelligence and formal thought processes. According to
him, the changes in behavior that occur during development are the results of changes in
ones ability to reason about the world around him or her.
Cognitive development deals with perception, attention, thinking, memory,
problem solving, and creativity. A variety of environmental factors according to Piaget
influences ones ability to reason. If a child is not allowed to investigate and explore the
environment, he or she is not likely to attain more complex levels of reasoning. Peoples
attempt to adapt to the world can stimulate higher levels of reasoning. It means that
reasoning influences and is influenced by other areas of human growth and development
neurological, physical, emotional, social, moral, language, and literacy. From infancy
onwards, childrens cognitive development is influenced by: 1) increasingly more
complex interactions between the individual and environment, 2) greater language
facility, and 3) acquisition of knowledge through literate behavior.
In psychology, it appears as genetic epistemology Piagets term for his
lifelong project. Genetic epistemology refers to the formation of meaning of knowledge.
It means that the human mind goes from a lower level of knowledge to a higher level.
The second fundamental principle underlying the whole Piagetian work is
structuralism. in his theory, various organisms have to be in harmony with each other,
thereby developing equilibrium.
According to Piaget, the cognitive system moves us to seek out information about
the environment and then organizes it into an accurate picture of the world. The
knowledge structure responsible for our ability to reason and adapt to the environment is
called a scheme. Schemes are specific patterns of mental activities for acquiring
information about the environment. For example, the infants will grasp and manipulate a
new object. The grabbing scheme gives them the opportunity to learn about the
characteristics of such objects.
The second form of functional invariant is known as adaptation. It refers to our
attempt to create an accurate view of the world around us. Adaptation means adjustment
to the demands of the environment which occurs in two basic and complementary
processes: assimilation and accommodation.
Assimilation is the process of fitting new information into existing schemes.
These are mental structures or organized patterns of actions or thoughts that we use to
interpret experiences.
Accommodation, on the other hand, is a process of modifying our schemes in
order to interact with the world around us. Assimilation and accommodation are
inseparable processes. For example, if a child is given an apple, he may assimilate that
the apple resembles a round object. Since it looks like a ball, the child will assimilate it
into a ball. But once his mother shows how to eat an apple, he now learns to
accommodate that not all round objects are balls.
The process of assimilation and accommodation influences development and
learning.

Stages of Cognitive Development

1. Sensory Stage. (Birth to two years) During this stage, children begin to make
sense of the world by using their sensory impressions and motor actions. This is
why we see children touching, rolling, seeing, hearing, tasting, and pushing things
around them. Children begin to learn something about the world with the use of
their basic reflexive schemes. As a result, these schemes provide a solid basis for
more sophisticated cognitive development.
2. Preoperational Stage. (Two to seven years) During this stage, the childs
language increasingly becomes an important tool in dealing with the environment.
The childs symbolic representations of events and objects are stored for recall at a
later time. The development of semiotic function, which is the ability of the child
to use symbols, is activated. Semiotic functions are represented by deferred
imitation, mental imagery, symbolic play, and language. Deferred imitation
occurs when the child is able to reproduce an action long after the original action
was produced. Mental imagery is affected by what the child has seen or
experienced in the past. These mental images are what the child uses in his
symbolic play. The preoperational child does not have the ability to conserve.
Conservation is the understanding that the amount or quantity of something can
remain the same even if the childs perception of it may change. It is the
conceptualization that amount or quantity of certain matters stays the same
regardless of any changes in shape or position of such matter. The childs inability
to conserve can be attributed to two different limitations: centralization and
egocentricity. Centralization is the tendency to focus the attention only in one
aspect of a situation at a time. It is call centration because it only deals with one
feature of the problem that is attended to. Moreover, the child does not attend to
the transformation from one stage to the other. The other limitation is known as
egocentricity. Egocentric thinking does not mean that the child is selfish, but that
he tends to believe that everybody sees and experiences events the way he does.
Consequently, the child fails to see and understand how others can think
differently about a particular situation.
3. Concrete-operational stage. (Seven to eleven years) At this stage, the child
possesses operative schemes that necessitate him to think in logical terms. In
problem solving situations. There are two skills involved in this situation that lead
to systematic and logical problem solving: classification and seriation.
Classification is the childs ability to group a set of objects and then to group
around a common category of attributes. The other skill is called seriation. In this
skill, the child develops the ability to order objects according to heights, length, or
width.
4. Formal operational stage. (Eleven years and older) The development of abstract
thinking and reasoning is the benchmark of formal operational stage.

Informational Processing Theory


Another important theory is the information-processing approach. The first
concept is chunking and the capacity of short-term memory. A chunk is any
meaningful unit of information.
The idea is that the short-term memory could only hold 5-9 chunks of information
(seven plus or minus two). The second concept is about the test-operate-test-exit
(TOTE). The TOTE should replace the stimulus-response as the fundamental unit of
behavior.
This theory hinges on the conception that the mind is likened to a processing
system in which knowledge is represented in the form of symbols.
For us to understand how information is encoded, processed, stored, and retrieved,
it is important that we study the information-processing approach. Information from the
external environment is represented in its original sensory form in sensory registers.
There is a separate register for each sensory modality (e.g. visual, auditory, tactile,
kinaesthetic, or olfactory) which is expected to hold large amount of information, but
only for a matter of milliseconds. It means that the information is lost in the end of that
time unless it can be described during the pattern recognition process. After that, the
information is entered into the memory systems. There are two important memory
systems: long-term and short-term memory systems.
The short-term Memory System (STM) functions in two important ways: 1) it
organizes information by integrating new information with the existing information and
2) it temporarily stores information for the learners use. Also known as the working
memory, the short-term memory system has a smaller capacity, but its representations are
more durable. Its capacity is so limited for registering the sensory input, however, its
capacity to store information is nil if we do not do anything concrete for the information
to stay there. It is in STM where we apply various techniques and strategies for
remembering or solving problems.

THE STM Techniques


There are strategies that develop or strengthen the short-term memory system.

1. Repetition. To remember the information and make it long lasting, we need to


repeat it several times until it becomes part of our long-term memory system.
However, interference of any king will have a devastating effect on the short-term
memory. If there is a mixed up in the sequencing of such items, then processing of
information in the short-term memory is affected. Interference is the primary
factor in determining the rate of STM loss.
2. Chunking. Chunking is another way to maintain the information in STM. It is a
method of regrouping items so that we have fewer items to remember. Most of us
can remember and rehearse up to seven items or bits of information. Once our
STM is full, no additional data can get in without affecting some of the original
contents of the STM.
3. Identifying logical patterns. Numbers presented at regular intervals or in a
particular sequence can help us remember the information. Identifying the
recurring patterns makes the information easy to recall.

The Long-term Memory System (LTM) is the repository of stored information; a


permanent storage of information. It is likened to a floppy disk, hard disk, or USB that
stores huge amounts of information. A faulty keyboard cannot function effectively. For
sensory input to be effective, all our senses should be fully active and operational. It
means that an encoder should see, or listen well. If not, the encoding process will be
affected. Aptly, a student who cannot see or hear better is not in better condition to attend
and process the environmental stimuli. If sensory problems are evident, then we should
provide the needed remediation. It is related to the encoder who cannot see or listen well.
He or she needs to be transferred in front of the classroom or at a certain place where
seeing or listening will not cause any problem.
The LTM Techniques

1. Association. Simple associations help us remember information. It can be


associated with context, medium, or features. As we go through the process of
recalling information, we search for contextual factors that will help us associate
with an event or a person.
2. Categorization. Information can be organized according to categories. Specific
examples for grocery items include categories such as canned goods, toiletries,
perfumery, noodles, seasoning, and others.
3. Mediation. During the encoding process, we must make meaningful units of
information. In this technique, we form a meaningful word association. Now it is
very easy to remember the meanings of these words. Association means the
repetition of sounds while alliteration means the repetition of the initial
letters. For further illustration let us have these as examples:
a. Assonance: The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
b. Alliteration: Mind your manners, have a heart and hold your horses.
4. Imagery. It makes use of our sensory modalities in which we transform ideas into
vivid images. For example, we can create a mental picture produced by our
memory or conjured up by certain stimuli.
5. Mnemonics. We sometimes combine initial letters to form a word that is easier to
recall. There are types of mnemonics: word, phrase, or sentence mnemonics.
Barriers to Effective Memory

1. Repression and distortion. We sometimes distort or give inaccurate information


that contradicts our beliefs.
2. Retroactive inhibition. When two bits of information we are trying to store are
confusing, there is a backward interference of new learning on what has been
stored already in the memory system.
3. Primary and recency effects. Primary means the capacity of the brain to
remember the best information that is learned recently.

The Seven sins of Memory


The element of forgetting comes into picture because of the Seven Sins of Memory.

1. Transience. This sin refers to the gradual forgetting of information over time.
2. Absent-mindedness. The second sin deals with our failure to fully attend to the
actual encoding process that causes us to forget.
3. Blocking. The third sin accounts for our memory that is presented but
inaccessible, probably due to an inadequate or misleading cur.
4. Misattribution. The fourth sin maintains the idea that the memory is present but it
is attributed to the incorrect source.
5. Suggestibility. The fifth sin of memory pertains to the incorrect information that
is unknowingly incorporated into the memory representation.
6. Bias. The sixth sin is about the formation of bias. When memory is distorted by
our prior knowledge that becomes mingled with specific memory, there is bias
already.
7. Persistence. The last sin accounts for the memory that is highly intrusive or
obsessive.