Cognitive theory - Final assignment (2023)

Foundations of cognitive theory
Elizabeth Caldwell
Excelsior College

Cognitive learning theories examine the complexity of the mind from the perspective of how the mind processes information. The paper discusses the history of cognitive learning theories and how they have influenced the way one perceives, organizes, stores and retrieves information. The main focus will be on Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, but theorists such as Wilhelm Wundt, William James, Edward Tolman and Frederic Bartlett will be included. It starts with the definition of cognitive theory and will go down in the history of psychology theorists to end with the conclusion.


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Definition of cognitive theory
Cognitive theory is a psychological approach that attempts to explain human behavior through understanding thought processes (Fritscher, 2014). The main aspect of cognitive theory concerns the communication between mental components and the information processed by this complicated system. When individuals learn, they energetically create cognitive embeddings that determine their perception of the environment and of themselves.
Concepts of cognitive theorists
Cognitive theorists believe that learning consists of the ingestion of events into an operational memory system contained in organizational structures called schemas. Frederic C. Bartlett introduced this schema concept in the early 1930's, and we will return to Frederic C. Bartlett later. Readers use outlines to make sense of events and descriptions by providing pre-determined background information for understanding, since it is seldom and often unnecessary for text to contain all of the detail necessary for full understanding. Typically, many or even most details are omitted, and readers' outlines fill in the gaps in the text (Hühn, 2014). Therefore, the mind uses schemas to selectively organize and process all information that individuals receive from the world.
This all-encompassing network is accomplished through a selective monitor that organizes the immense flow of sensory information. The system selects, organizes, and codes for the storage of new information based on the individual's interests, motivations, and particularly perceptions. It's all about what the individual perceives while encoding prepares the data for storage. When encoding new information, schemes rarely copy the input exactly as it was received; Instead, it is altered or distorted to fit the person's existing schema system. Also, when retrieving information from memory, schemas only choose the one that matches the currently active script. Therefore, learning and applying knowledge depends on a schematic framework.
Processing information for storage involves several key cognitive components. When one experiences sensory input, the data is momentarily held in a sensory buffer that has unlimited capacity. This information can quickly fade unless there is real concentration transferring it to short-term memory. Short-term memory contains approximately seven items, however, clustering information items can increase this number. Then there is working memory. This is similar to short term memory but used for certain mental operations like addition. Information encoded in long-term memory is organized, meaningful, and permanent; In addition, long-term memory has unlimited capacity. Within long-term memory, there are two categories of memory: semantic and episodic. Semantic memory consists of information received directly from the environment (addresses, directions, equations), while episodic memory deals with experienced events. Each of these components plays an active role in information processing.
Meaningful learning occurs when knowledge stored in long-term memory is transferred to short-term memory to integrate new information into the mind. The most important cognitive associations occur when individuals relate stored knowledge to sensory information and consequently encode stimuli in long-term memory. This concept differs from the behavioral view of association, which is based on external motivation.

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Psychological cognitive theorists
Strong attempts to explore and understand the role of the mind arose in Germany in the late 19th century. The founder of psychology as a science, Wilhelm Wundt, was the first to study the cognitive structures involved in mental processing. Not considered a cognitive theorist, Wundt formulated a foundation for cognitive research and development. Wundt's "Principles of Physiological Psychology" states that the structure of the mind consists of fundamental, immutable elements.
Wundt believed that scientific psychology should focus on consciousness and, consequently, on structuralism. Wundt's study of the makeup of the mind used a method called introspection, which involves subjective reflection on one's own experience. For Wundt, sensations and our somatic senses are of particular importance to the project of physiological psychology for the simple reason that sensations are the "points of contact" between the physical and the psychic.
As psychology began to establish itself as an independent science, many Americans rejected structuralism. William James considered Wundt's methodological analysis and classification of cognitive elements to be too narrow. Strongly influenced by Darwin's theory of evolution, James emphasized the cognitive process related to environmental adaptation.
In the 1930s, Edward Tolman added his concept of intentional behaviorism to the Gestalt view. Tolman expressed that individuals learn specific events that lead to the satisfaction of specific goals. Learning involves one's own expectations in a given situation. If the expectations are met, they are validated and remain part of their own schematic structure. As expected, a person's perception of a situation strongly influences their assumptions within that scenario. Finally, Tolman found that individuals develop cognitive maps of the environment, which form the basis of perceptions and expectations. Cognitive mapping involves the psychological processes that develop one's beliefs about relative locations and attributes in one's environment. Tolman's emphasis on expectations, in addition to his process-product separation, contributed significantly to cognitive theory.
Frederic C. Bartlett has done a considerable amount of research related to the perception, recall, and understanding of information. During these experiments, individuals constantly constructed scenarios to compensate for incomplete information within perceptual sequences. Bartlett's finding helped develop the key cognitive concepts of perception and mental processing. One of Bartlett's experiments involved person-to-person transmission of a story. One person read a folk tale, rewrote it from memory, and then passed it on to another person who followed the same procedure. When the story got to the last person, it was completely different from the original.
Jean Piaget was the first psychologist to systematically study cognitive development. Before Piaget, the general assumption in psychology was that children are simply less competent thinkers than adults. It turned out that young children think surprisingly differently compared to adults. According to Piaget, children are born with a very basic mental structure (genetically inherited and developed) upon which all later learning and knowledge is based (McLeod, 2009). Piaget's theory differs from the others in many ways. He looked after the children rather than all the trainees. It focused on development rather than learning. It suggests discrete developmental stages characterized by qualitative differences, rather than a gradual increase in the number and complexity of behaviors. There are three basic components in Piaget's cognitive theory: schemata, adaptive processes that enable the transition from one stage to another: balance, assimilation, and accommodation, and four developmental stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.
According to Piaget, schemas are the basic building blocks of knowledge. Customization involves construction schemes through direct interaction with the environment. It consists of two complementary activities, assimilation and accommodation. In assimilation, we use our current schemas to interpret the outside world. Adaptation: We create new schemas or adapt old ones after realizing that our current ways of thinking do not fully grasp the environment (Berk, 2014). Balance is the force that drives development. Piaget believed that cognitive development does not proceed steadily but in leaps and bounds.
The first stage of cognitive development is the sensorimotor stage. This stage corresponds to the first two years of life. Babies and toddlers "think" with their eyes, ears, hands, and other sensorimotor devices. Babies gradually build knowledge and understanding of the world by coordinating experiences (like seeing and hearing) with physical interactions with objects. Piaget divided the sensorimotor stage into six sub-stages. These sub-stages are: Reflexive Schemas (Birth - 1 month) which are reflexes of the newborn; Primary Circulatory Responses (1 - 4 months) - simple motor habits revolving around the infant's own body; limited anticipation of events, secondary circular reactions (4-8 months), these actions are aimed at repeating interesting effects on the surrounding world; Mimicking familiar behaviors, coordinating secondary circular responses (8 to 12 months), intentional or goal-directed behavior; Ability to find a hidden object in the first place it is hidden (object permanence); improve anticipation of events; mimicking behaviors that are slightly different from those the baby normally performs; Tertiary Circular Response (12 to 18 months) Exploring the properties of objects by acting on them in novel ways; mimicking novel behaviors; Ability to look for a hidden object in different places and mental representation (18 months - 2 years) Young children have internal representations of objects and events, indicated by sudden problem solving; Ability to find an object that has moved out of sight (invisible scrolling); delayed imitation; and simulation games (Berk, 2014). The second phase is the preoperative phase, which lasts from 2 to 7 years. Piaget pointed out that children do not yet understand concrete logic and cannot manipulate information mentally. In this phase, children increase their play and simulation. Children have trouble seeing things from other people's perspectives. The concrete-operative phase is the third in Piaget's cognitive theory. It occurs between the ages of seven and eleven and is characterized by the appropriate use of logic. Children at this stage are beginning to have more mature, adult thought processes. His problem solving is more logical. You can only solve problems related to specific events or objects. Piaget found that children are able to integrate inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning involves drawing conclusions from observations to make a general principle and trying to predict the outcome of an event. Children have the ability to distinguish between their own thoughts and the thoughts of others, they understand that their thoughts and perceptions can be different from those around them. Also according to Piaget, children at this stage are able to classify objects according to their number, mass and weight. Important processes in this phase are classification, conservation, decentration, reversibility, seriation and transitivity. Classification is the ability to name and identify groups of objects based on their size, appearance, or other characteristics. Hierarchical classification is the ability to classify objects into classes and subclasses. Conservation is the understanding that although an object's appearance changes, its quality remains the same. Decentralization, according to Piaget, allows the child to consider multiple aspects of a problem in order to solve it. Reversibility is when the child can understand that objects or numbers can be changed and then return to their original state. Seriation is the ability to order objects based on their size, shape, or other characteristics. The transitivity of the latter process refers to the ability to mentally classify objects and discern the relationships between different things in a serial order. The formal operating phase is the final phase. The age range is from 11 to 20 years. Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts. The person is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning and develops the ability to think in abstract concepts.
According to these theories, the ability to learn derives from the way one perceives, organizes, stores, and retrieves information. Key areas of focus include troubleshooting and simplifying the storage and retrieval of information for your application. Continuing to study and improve these processes can only benefit our ability to learn more efficiently and effectively.

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Berk, LE (2014). Development throughout life, sixth edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
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Burman, J (2012). Jean Piaget: Pictures of a Life and its Factory. History of Psychology, 15(3), 283-288. doi:10.1037/a0025930
Fritscher, L. (2014, 9 24). cognitive theory. Retrieved from
Goldmann, A. (2013). Towards a Cognitive Science Research Program for Improvisation: Theory and an Experiment. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain, 23(4), 210-221. doi:10.1037/pmu0000020
Lecuyer, R (2006). Can childhood cognitive psychology help to understand learning processes? European Psychologist, 11(4), 253-262. doi:10.1027/1016-9040.11.4.253
O'Connel, DC & Kowal, S (2009). The development of modern psychology: a critical and prospective perspective of some pioneers. Psychology Journal, 217(2), 73-78. doi:1027/0044-3409.217.2.73
Wundt, W. & Lamiell, J. (2013). Psychology's Struggle for Existence: Second Edition. History of Psychology, 16(3), 197-211. doi:10.1037/a0032319

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Add to references
Kim, Alan, "Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = < -wounded/>.

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