Cognitive Learning

-Learning is an internal process


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-Changes in mental processes and structures that occur as people try to make sense of the world 

4 Main Principles

1.Leaners are Active

2. New understanding depends on prior knowledge 

3. Learners construct (not record) meaning 

4.Learning is a change in a person’s mental structures;

Atkinson and Shiffrins Moddel




Executive Control (metacognition);

;;; ;; ;;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; V;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; V


Stimuli–> Sensory Register–>Working

                                           memory–>LongTerm                                                             Memory


                   Permanently lost^  ^Response    ^                                                                Forgotten

1. Outside Stimuli

Senses; anything in the enviro







2.Sensory Register

-Unlimited capacity

-Limited Duration 

Visual Stimuli: Iconic memory, 1/2 second

Auditory Stimuli:Echoic memory, 0-4 Seconds


-No meaning given to stimuli here; just holds information until it can be processed 

Instructional Implications
Present information in both visual and auditory forrm to increase chances of it not being lost

Consciously focusing on stimulus


-Selective and limited 

Attention: Selective

Learner able to choose one frrom among many stimuli, trains of thought

-Example: Read and realize you dont know what your reading; Listen to a lecture and realize your daydreaming 

Attention: Limited
We can only attend to so many things at once. choosing one thing necessarily means not attending to something else
 4 Ways to impact Attention

Variations of the stimulus (cues)

*Bold Print, Color, Boxes

Discrepency: Biological drive to make sense of our environment, so we attend to




(things that we see that dont jive with what we know) 

Commanding Stimuli



-A persons interpretation of stimuli

-Influenced by mental state, past experience, prior knowledge, motivation, ect. 

3. Working memory (Short term memory)

-Where a learner delibrately, actively, consciously works on information


Limited capacity

*5-9 bits of information

*Use chunking to combat limits 

-Limited Duration 

*15-20 Seconds

*Use matenance rehearsal to combat limits 

Cognitive Load
The limit of working memory
Cognitive Load: Rehearsal

Mental repitition of information


-Maintenence: 3.14…..3.14…..3.14….

Elaborative: JFK FDR IKE LBJ 

Cognitive Load: Chunking

Mentally combining separate terms into larger, more meaningful units


Example: Phone Numbers 

Cognitive load: Organization

Find relationships within new information


Example: grocery list 

Cognitive Load: Automaticity

The point at which one can attend to information and perform mental processes with little or no effort


Example: Driving 

Cognitive Load: Dual Processing

Coding information that use both visual and auditory stimuli


Example: Lecture and slides 

4. Long Term memory

-Infinite capacity

-Unlimited duration

-Where we "store" everything we know (doesnt mean we can retrieve it) 



4 ways of Encoding 

Rehearsal: Includes chunking

Organization: internal connections; see relationships witin to be learned information (Geometry and pool) 

Elaboration: external connections; connect to be learned information with prior knowledge and experience; relies on prior knowledge so using multiple examples is best

Encoding specifity: Knowledge is retrieved from LTM in ways simlilar to those in which it was initially encoded  (Study drunk–>do well drunk)

Encoding: Massed Practice

Trying to burn information into memory


Cramming: Increases possibility of retrieval failure; cognitive load issues 

Encoding: Distributed Practice

 Spacing effect: When information is organized and elaborated over time and with multiple opportunities and means for encoding, retrieval is easier


-Increases exposure opportunities

-More links to prior knowledge 

Getting information from WM to LTM

Retrieval: Cue dependent, based on depth of processing in LTM


Retrieval cue failure: inhibitation of recall of certain information by the presence of other information in memory 

WM–>LTM: Interference

Inhibition of recall of certain inforamtion by the presence of other information in memory


-Proactive interference: Prior knowledge gets in the way of remembering new knowledge; present knowledge effects learning ahead in time (Driving in Europe) 


-Retroactive interference: New knowledge gets in the way of retrieving prior knowledge, new knowledge interferes wit old knowledge (Language learning) 

Networks of related concepts that influence understanding of new information
Executive Control Functions

Primary purpose is to serve as a management center


4 Main Aspects

1.Control Processes

2. Planning

3. Monitoring

4.Fix up strategies 

Executive Control Functions: 1.Control processes

Knowing possible strategies, given current conditions

(Prep for test, dont watch TV) 

Executive Control Functions: 2.Planning
Choose strategies for organization and elaboration to maximize retrieval
Executive Control Functions: 3. Monitoring
Watch our own cognition and recognize when strategies are not working
Executive Control Functions: 4. Fix-up strategies
Know strategies to use when current ones arent working (reading doesnt make sense, go back and reread)

Awareness of own cognition and learning (strategies and conditions for using them)


-Knowing when you know something

-Knowing when you dont know something 

Embedded vs. isolated
Better encoding

1. Generation effect
2. Levels of processing
3. Advanced organizers
4. Answering questions
5. Organization
6. Elaboration 

Mnenomic Devices: 1. Method of Loci
Imagine a familiar location and situate items in that location
Mnemonic Devices:Link Method
Link one item to another
Mnemonic Devices: Stories
Tell an elaborate story with a list
Mnemonic Devices:First letter method
First letter of each word spells out another word
Mnemonic Devices:Keyword method
Use a part of a particular word to generate meaning from it
Mnemonic Devices: Peg method
Take a rhyme word and associate it with the list item
Note taking
Mental processing of main ideas

Good when there is a good understanding of "critical" information

-Less is more 

Brief statements about what was read
Writing to learn
Explain in writing the concepts being learned (journals)
Outlining and mapping
Diagramming connections and indentifying main ideas








Primacy and Recently effects:Recall early and late items from a list


-Not always accurate; learning is construction


-Flashbulb memories: Episodic memories tied to a specific event


Relearning: Learning inforamtion the second time around is a lot easier and faster than the first 

Encoding: Generation Effect
Information self generated is retrieved better
Encoding: Level of meaning

The deeper the meaning the better


Example: yearbook 

Encoding: Advanced Organizers
Overview of information
Encoding: answering questions
Encoding; organization
OUtlining, mapping, heirarchies, charts, matrices
Encoding: Elaboration
Examples, analogies, mnemonic devices