Wikipedia explains that “In psychology, cognitivism is a theoretical approach in understanding the mind, which argues that mental function can be understood by quantitative, positivist and scientific methods, and that such functions can be described as information processing models”
Basically, congnitivism is based on the theory that our brains look for some sort of meaningfulness. Back in the 1950’s and 60’s there was dominance to the behaviourist theory (see my last post). Wikipedia goes on to explains that Chomsky “helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B. F. Skinner‘s Verbal Behavior, in which he challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of behavior and language dominant in the 1950s.”
Wortham states that “Nowadays, you don’t find academic behaviorists anymore. The behaviorist doesn’t care how the organism gives the response, all the behaviorist knows is that in this context, the pigeon pecks the green disc, and that’s all it matters. It doesn’t matter if the pigeon is thinking anything, the behaviorist doesn’t deny that there is something going on in the pigeon’s little head, there may well be, but it just doesn’t matter. All that matters is that in this context the pigeon behaves in this way.”
Wortham explains that congnitivism is concerned with what the person thinks about the content and they believe that from this thought, a response will be formulated.
The eleed.de website sums it up well as “a cognitivist approach is based on the belief that there is a structure in the way we perceive and understand the world.”
When it comes to elearning, it is important to consider learning from a cognitivist point of view. Our lecturer has suggested that “meaningfulness and insight” may be good examples of this theory.
With elearning, it is easy to see how a learner may need to put together a “picture” to completely understand the learning. It is also important to consider what the users past experience has been with this subject and how that may affect the way they relate to the stimuli and the meaning they create from the information.
This may be applied to elearning design by creating a tool that allows users to firstly understand the overall goal or outcome and then feed them individual pieces of information that make up the overall goal.
Another concept to be considered is the “advanced organisers” of a learner. A great definition I found on a wikied page explains that and advanced organiser is “a statement of inclusive concepts to introduce and sum up material that follows”.
A great example of this would be the home or start page of an elearning tool that outlines what and why the user is completing this task.
My next post will deal with the Humanist approach.