Friday, December 30, 2011

Module 2: Cognitivism as a Learning Theory

Module 2 - Blog Post Discussion 

Conversations in blogs about cognitivism and learning theories in general are abundant. The two conversations linked below are examples of fascinating discussions in 2007 on cognitivism and behaviorism among three important thinkers: Bill Kerr, Stephen Downes, and Karl Kapp. While the discussions are several years old, the issues and questions they raise are still relevant today. Read these two blog posts, and then form a response to post in your own blog. Be sure to link to these posts in your blog and add tags for “learning theory” and “cognitivism,” along with any other topics you explore.

My Response:

As I read about cognitivism and learning theories on both blogs, the three theorists address cogent points. Downes indicates that humans are like computers. Machines do a variety of math such as algebra and chess. For instance, Downes states that if machines continue to evolve by displaying visceral emotions. At this point, behaviorism could regain it place in society (Downes, p. 3). These are convincing arguments, but we must remember that humans construct computers and that we are responsible for how computers think and learn. The more we perfect them the less there are jobs available for individuals.

Kerr argues that the essence of good educational design is when you take a portion from each theory. For example, students are very culturally diverse with different learning styles. In this 21st century advanced technological society, we should meet the students where they are and not where we want them to be. Kapp indicates that using the technological resources in assisting students to move forward in life and in their learning. I agree with Kerr and Kapp that we must continue to take a part of each theory that works best for students in order to create educational experiences. Kapp emphasizes that creating learning uses an entire tool kit of philosophies, techniques and ideas. Kapp suggests that some ideas are better than others and that we should not generalize because we are all different individuals.
Kerr concludes by stating that learning theory, like politics, is full of _isms: constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism, and connectivism. He believes that _isms are important and that we should use them as a filter and not as a blinker. Kerr suggests that in order to have a tremendous change, we must have a theory to justify it and help us think about it. Downes argues that he depicts cognitivism as a response to behaviorism and a philosophy of learning. For instance, the learner is a complex information-processing system and to understand how learning occurs, one must understand how information processing occurs within the human brain…in the cognivitist’s view, learning occurs internally and through the social interactions with others.

As an instructional designer, it is important to consider the _isms in order to accommodate all the various learning styles and individuals. I agree with Kerr’s comments that each _ism has a place in education and that it is entirely up to instructional designers to take a portion of each _ism and apply it to each instructional design. For example, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning incorporates from a cognitive perspective by taking chunks of information and breaking it down into smaller pieces. To design a lesson using the behaviorist approach is to break down into smaller steps in order to shape the learner’s behavior. No matter what theory we use or if we use a combination of philosophies, the best instructional design has each of this school of thought for creating multiple learning styles, meeting the needs of all learners’ abilities, and creating challenges for engaging and motivating all students.


Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Michele Baylor

Module 2:  Cognitivism as a Learning Theory
I responded to the following community members:
Fred Davis 
Debbie Morris


  1. Hi Michele,

    I couldn't agree more with point made in your post. As educators we must the varying needs of the diverse learners in the classroom. Each learning theory has benefits that can be used in the classroom. I have used them all at some point based on the age of my students, learning abilities, and the content. Great post!

  2. Leandra Lewis,

    Can you provide a brief example or scenario that you used for your students incorporating two or more of the learning theories?

    Thank you.

    Michele Baylor