What are some examples of cognitivism theories and their relation to class education?

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arielrawson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Behaviorist theories of learning dominated the classroom through the 1950s and eventually gave way to cognitivism as the focus (among educators) shifted from observable acts (e.g. performance outcomes) to concept formation, problem-solving, and information processing. Today, cognitivism remains the dominant model of learning for classroom education, despite newly increasing (though still marginal) excitement for the relevance of constructivism. While Gestalt (holistic) psychology and the work of Jean Piaget remain seminal to the development of cognitivism -- the specificities of the various contributors -- generally coalesce around the concerns for learning as process and the strategies the mind deploys for receiving, organizing, storing, and retrieving information. Cognitivism assigns a prominent role for memory -- and therefore influences the use of matrices, analogies, hierarchies, etc as educational techniques designed to create and sustain relationships between prior knowledge and new information. Another technique used is the simplification and standardization of knowledge into more optimally digestible information (to be either assimilated or accommodated -- as the two ways Piaget argued mental schemas adapt to new data). Lastly, feedback plays a crucial role in learning models influenced by cognitivism theories.