Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cognitive Learning Theory

This week’s resources focused on the cognitive learning theory.  This theory is centered on how brain collects and processes information.  According to Dr. Michael Orey, taking information from our short-term memory and moving it to our long-term memory requires elaboration and dual processing.  To elaborate means building numerous connections to what we already know.  Dual processing is using more than one of our senses to help us learn new information. The most helpful material I found this week was a table from the book Emerging Perceptives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. This table showed the five roles of cognitive tools including information seeking, information presentation, knowledge organization, knowledge integration, and knowledge generation.  

Resources such as cues, questions, and advance organizers fall under the categories of the five roles of cognitive tools.  Tapping into a student’s prior knowledge is key to building connections to advance to long-term memory.  Cues and questions are often needed to help students trigger their prior knowledge. Teachers can help students elaborate on their prior knowledge by actively seeking information through various multimedia resources.  According to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Work, research using visual aids and multimedia appeals to multiple learning styles.  Multimedia can also be used to help to develop a visual model to understand new information.
Organizing prior knowledge and new information can be a daunting task.  However, using an advance organizer will make it easier for students to visually see, recall, and retain the information.  Using graphic organizers helps students with the information presentation, knowledge organization, and knowledge integration. 

Other strategies that assist in processing information are summarizing and note taking. Summarizing and note taking are important skills for students in transferring their knowledge to long-term memory.  It is crucial that students move from simply copying a teacher’s notes or from a book. They must determine the most important details and learn to put information in their own words.  Summarizing and note taking help students to organize information, leading students to process the information.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Cognitive Learning Theories [DVD]. Bridging Learning Theory Instruction and Technology. Baltimore, MD: Author
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Great summary post of what we learned this week!
    So how do you use those things in your classroom? What does it look like in 4th grade? I teach 5th, so It is good to hear how a 4th grade teacher incorporates those teaching strategies.

    My real question, how do you teach students to become good note takers? I have my students take notes, but honestly most of them just copy my information. I have a few students that take their own, but not many. So how do you teach it?

    Multimedia is great to use, my only struggle is finding the time to find good quality multimedia. Suggestions?

    Renee Scott

    1. Renee-
      I also struggle with having my students take notes. At this point most of them just copy mine. At fourth and fifth grade, they are just learning to take notes. I guess, I am okay with them copying my notes right now. This way they can see how I set up my notes with titles and bullets.

      We use graphic organizers quite a bit in my room. However, we do not usually set up our concept maps the way I have seen in our resources this week. I feel some of them would be overwhelming for fourth graders. Many of them are so busy they confuse me! What do you think of the maps?

  2. When I think back to taking notes in my art history classes in college, one word comes to mind "HURRY!" I struggled with trying to get down all of the pertinent facts presented by my instructor while also trying to absorb the images shown related to that important information. Sure, a tape recorded helped some but I always yearned for a better, more effective and efficient way. I have come across several "new-age" note taking suggestions. Dragon is a speech recognition software program that transcribes spoken words into written text. It allows the learner to record a lecture and then automatically converts the presentation to a written document. WOW! Also, Evernote is like a virtual concept map allowing for you to make connections to other information you have saved. For example, you can sync notes from a web site, a Word document and then use it's word-recognition software to search for information. There are also several note taking pens on the market that can also transfer information into other languages, which is great for our ELL students!

    1. Wow! I would have loved those tech gadgets in college or even now at workshops! Are these software programs you have to buy or websites?

  3. Thank you for such a great summary of our learnin this week. I'll admit with the content that I teach that I do not have my students take notes, but I have begun using organizers with some of the higher level concepts that I teach. Any thoughts on how to get students to attend to the most important information and details?

  4. Haha! I was just writing somewhere else how my students really struggle finding the most important information. They have a hard time determining major details from minor details. I think this is something that is difficult for fourth graders. I think I will always be working on this!