This week in my master’s class, I learned how to use technology to enhance my students’ cognitive skills during learning. The cognitivist perspective “focuses on learning as a mental operation that takes place when information enters through the senses, undergoes mental manipulation, is stored, and is finally used” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008). My textbook, “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” describes two instructional methods that embed technology in lessons to increase student cognitive processes.
The first instructional strategy is cues, questions, and advance organizers. Cues are clear hints about what the student is going to learn and questions prompt a student’s memory to help them retrieve prior knowledge (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, pg 73). These cues and questions are incorporated in organizers. Dr. Orey describes organizers such as concept maps as a “graphical way” to organize data (Laureate Education, 2009). Word processing applications such as creating a brochure support cognitive thinking by helping students focus on important concepts thus eliminating the distracting, unnecessary information. Spreadsheet software that can create a rubric allows teachers to prepare students for a lesson by introducing them to the topic and expectations beforehand. Students can brainstorm and organize thoughts before a lesson by completing a KWL chart. They can view a video clip to trigger prior knowledge before completing a concept map to organize facts and answer higher-order thinking questions. These ideas focus “…on enhancing students’ ability to retrieve, use, and organize information about a topic” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007) therefore they support the cognitivist perspective.
Technology can also help students’ cognitive processes while summarizing and taking notes. Teachers can use word processing capabilities to provide students with teacher-prepared notes where students fill in missing pertinent information. Students can also use software that allows them to pick out the essential information in a paragraph in their textbook. Students can create a pictograph to go with their notes or create a graphic organizer such as a concept map that has embedded graphics to help organize information. “Graphic representation has been shown to produce a percentile gain of 39 points in student achievement” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). Various web resources such as blogging and wikis allow students to experience reciprocal teaching creating higher-order thinking. Like the first instructional strategy, this instructional strategy also supports the cognitivist learning theory because it assists mental processing.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author
Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical Foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.