Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cognitive Learning Theories in Classroom Strategies

Cognitive theories in education are geared into how the brain works and processes information. Two chapters that correlate to these ideas are “Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers” and “Summarizing and Note Taking” (Hubbell, Kuhn & Pitler, 2012).

Questioning in the classroom can be used as an informal assessment tool. When a teacher uses this form of assessment they can gauge where the class knowledge based lies. From here, the instructor can use scaffolding and cues to build upon this knowledge. Organizing information in a visual way can help with remember and learning. When technology is added to the equation, there are many ways to amplify these techniques. Graphic organizer software can be used to present information to students using pictures, video clips or web links (Hubbell, 2012). This way of brainstorming can also become a learning activity. There are social bookmarking such as Diigo, and Pinterest that can be used to allow students become a real part of the brainstorming process.  

Note taking and summarizing are skills that develop over time. In order to take clear notes the student must have an understanding of the material, and must be able to use higher levels of thinking by synthesizing the information. Some of the strategies suggested in this week’s readings I currently do to help my students with learning disabilities. Guided notes can help students of all abilities connect information in a visual way. The tool, Ultimate Research Assistant, can be used in addition to note taking. This tool “reads” articles and “listens” to lectures and then composes a report summarizing the information (Hubbell, 2012).

Concept mapping is an advanced way to organize information. Students can connect information to prior knowledge and new ideas (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). They can gather ideas using pictures, texts, links or links to videos. This visual way to represent information can be an exciting tool that students and teachers alike can use.

Virtual field trips are online tours of a location. Students can tour museums, cites, historic sites, factories, etc. This uses of technology is beneficial since the whole world is available to be explored. A student can tour museums that are across the globe without leaving their school building. Virtual field trips can build on cognitive learning because students are connecting learned topics to real places.

Using cognitive learning theories along with the above strategies can help learning in you classroom. When we proved students with useful tools and rich experiences we encourage students to learn to their fullest potential.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Jen, I know you teach art, so can you imagine ways to use these tools when you are presenting new information? I could see giving students a web with labels and spaces for them to draw examples of what you are describing or demonstrating. Usually we provide the picture and students provide the words, but in your case turning that around might have more impact. Have you done this, or do you think it might work?

  2. Mary,
    I love your suggestions! I have noticed that art can use teaching strategies in more creative ways. When my students are learning art vocabulary there is always a space for them to draw pictures in addition to writing definitions. Drawing definitions helps students synthesize information because they can not copy words. Students have to translate the definition to the language of art.

    Thanks for the feedback!


  3. Drawing definitions is so cool.I remember a 6th grade teacher I had who made us draw pictures for EVERYTHING. We had cards we made for history in particular that I remember. We had to draw the Norman invasion of England, or Charlemagne being crowned leader of the Holy Roman Empire :). Lots of stick figures I tell you what.

  4. Jen,
    I liked what you said about note-taking. It can be a simple visual tool. One thing I incorporate into my literacy instruction for my second graders is a strategy called Stop-and-sketch. I did not make this strategy up but have been using it for a while.
    After reading a part of the text that is important I help my students summarize by giving them two minutes to stop and sketch.
    For example, we were reading a fable about a greedy fox who invited a stork over for dinner. The fox served the stork soup in a flat dish so the stork was unable to eat it. Later the stork invited the fox for dinner and served some meat in a jar with a long neck. The fox was unable to reach the meat. I had the students stop and sketch what the fox looked liked trying to reach the meat in the jar. It really helped the students understand and summarize what they read.
    I think teachers forget that young children need to summarize too. Summarizing can mean using pictures (cues) for understanding.
    I totally agree with you that drawing pictures is an excellent tool for summarizing. I use Notability to do this because it is quick and the kids love it. They are usually more pleased with their sketches in Notability than when asked to stop-and-sketch using paper pencil.