Cognitive Perspective on Learning

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At the outset of this article, The Cognitive Perspective on Learning, the author, Kaya Yilmaz introduces the readers to the three main theories of learning: behaviorism, constructivism, and cognitivism (Yilmaz, 2011). Behaviorism theory was a teacher-centered instructional approach that provided objectively measurable and observable students and teachers’ behaviors through a stimulus-response network. In contrast to behaviorism, teachers are less conversant with the features of cognitivism theory and often confuse it with constructivism. To this end, Yilmaz authored this article to give a concise overview of the essential elements of cognitivism, theoretical and basis of philosophy as well as the illustrative teaching methods and its consequences on the given classroom practices.

To achieve the objectives of the study, Yilmaz comprehensively reviewed several educational articles and their authors. As a theory of learning, the cognitivism genesis can be drawn back to the 20th century (Yilmaz, 2011). Consequently, the behaviorist failure to account for the occurrence of conceptual changes prompted the disillusioned psychologist to challenge the basic assumption of behaviorism and start the cognitive movement. The cognitive psychologist like Edward Chase Tolman, Jerome Bruner, and Lev Vygotsky among many others argued that mental process and prior knowledge does not only serve a critical role than orienting behavior stimuli or responses, but also helps in intervening between response and stimulus (Yilmaz, 2011). History positions Edward Tolman as the pioneer of cognitive theory and through various experiments, he asserted that behavior had direction and purpose and happened without some reinforcement (Yilmaz, 2011). However, the outburst of the cognitive approach was witnessed from the mid-1950s to the second half of the century. Notably, this period saw series of empirical researchers, experiments, findings, and conclusion that led to the invention of theories of cognitive like the Piaget’s theory of individual cognitive development, Bruner’s cognitive constructivist learning theory, and Tolman’s theory of sign learning as the link between cognitivism and behaviorism (Yilmaz, 2011). Notably, each type of cognitivism defined different aspects of cognitivism. Overall, all these forms of cognitivism primarily emphasized on the learners' knowledge and the acquisition than what they do.

Executive Summary

In regards to classroom practices, the theory fosters students to build their knowledge from explorations that enhance accommodation and assimilation. For the teachers, they should provide a productive classroom environment to boost the student’s explorations. Overall, teaching should be tailored to the interests, needs, and background of the students. Furthermore, the author describes several approaches that teachers can utilize to help their students in processing information efficiently and effectively. In the end, he explains various teaching approaches from the principles of cognitivism.

Apparently, this article addresses the cognitive approaches to learning comprehensively. In addition to the history and characteristics of the theory, the article provides the various implications and learning methods supplied by cognitive theory. Personally, from the article, I can note the differences between behaviorism and cognitivism. The author efficiently uses citations making the article more detailed and accurate. Moreover, the article proactively employs literature review as research method making its content more valid and effective. However, the report fails to include an explicit comparative discussion or tables to make the differences between behaviorism and cognitivism more coherent. The article has also failed to provide limitations of cognitivism making the article open to critics. For a compelling illustration, the author would have included his surveys from various schools to verify the secondary information provided by the cognitive psychologists. Personally, the article is useful as it helps the learners and the teachers to understand that learning should be more of student-centered than teacher centered.


Kaya Yilmaz (2011). The Cognitive Perspective on Learning: Its Theoretical Underpinnings and Implications for Classroom Practices, The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 84:5, 204-212.

November 13, 2023

Education Psychology


Learning Behavior

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