Cognitive Learning Theory

The cognitive view of learning is the result of our attempts to make sense of the world, and to do this we use all the mental tools at our disposal.

Alburt Bandura focuses on congitive factors such as beliefs, self-perceptions, and expectations, so his theory is now called a social cognitive theory.

Social cognitive theory distinguishes between enactive and vicarious learning:
        -Enactive learning is learning by doing and experiencing the consequences of your actions, which provide information.
        -Vicarious learning iss learning by observing others.  This fact challenges the behaviorist idea that cognitive factors are unnecessary in an explanation of laerning because if people can learn by watching, they much be focusing their attention, constructing images, remembering, analyzing, and making decisions that affect learning.


Psychologists today recognize that the child's culture shapes cognitive development by determining what and how the child will learn about the world.

Lev Semenovich Vygotsky was a spokesperson for this sociocultural theory and his ideas about language, culture, and cognitive development have become major influences in psychology and education and have provided alternatives to many of Piaget's theories.

Vygotsky believed that human activities take place in cultural settings and cannot be understood apart from the settings-our specific mental structures and processes can be traced to our interactions with others.

    Social Sources of Individual Thinking
        -Vygotsky believed that higher mental processes appear first between people as they are co-constructed during shared activities.  Then the processes are internalized by the child and become part of that child's cognitive development.
                            Ex:  First, children use language in activities with others, to regulate the behavior of the others, and then later, the child can regulate his/her own behavior using private speech.
        -Piaget believed that the most helpful interactions were between peers because peers are on an equal basis and can challenge each other's thinking, but Vygotsky, on the other hand, suggested that children's cognitive development is fostered by interactions with people who are more capable or advanced in their thinking, such as parents and teachers.

    Cultural Tools and Cognitive Development
        -Vygotsky believed that cultural tools (including real tools and symbolic tools) play very important roles in cognitive development.  He emphasized the tools that the culture provides to support thinking so that all higher-order mental processes, such as reasoning and problem solving, are mediated by psychological tools, such as language, signs, and symbols.  Adults teach these tools to children during day-to-day activities and the children internalize them, so later the psychological tools can help students advance their own development.
                            Ex:  Children engage in activities with adults and they exchange ideas and ways of thinking about or representing concepts.  These co-created ideas are internalized by children, thus, children's knowledge, ideas, attitudes, and values develop through appropriating the ways of acting and thinking provided by their culture and by the more capable members of their group.
        -Children begin to create a "cultural tool kit" and transform the tools given to them into their own representations, symbols, patterns, and understandings.  Piaget informed us that children's constructions of meanings are not the same as adults, so in the exchange of signs and symbols, children create their own udnerstandings, which gradually change as they engage in social activities and try to make sense of the world.  In Vygotsky's theory, language is the most important symble system in the tool kit, and it is the one that helps to fill the kit with other tools.