Technology That Guides Learning

Using technology in the classroom

Cognitivism in Practice March 14, 2012

Filed under: Cognitive Theories,Education,Instructional Strategies,Technology — emilypartyka @ 6:20 pm

This week in class we focused on two important instructional strategies called Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers and Summarizing and Note Taking. These two strategies not only integrate technology into the classroom, but they also relate to the cognitive learning theories as presented by Dr. Orey in the video “Cognitive Learning Theories” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).

The four cognitive learning theories addressed by Dr. Orey include limited short-term memory, elaboration, dual coding hypothesis, and network model of memory. Each of these is important to educators as they help to structure our lessons in order to create a meaningful and beneficial education for our students. Limited short-term memory shows us that humans are only able to hold about seven (give or take a few) items of information at a time while still processing it into our short-term memory. Another cognitive learning theory is the idea of elaboration. This theory is the “primary mechanism for storing long-term memory” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). This theory states that we must elaborate on what we’re learning in order to make a meaningful connection. Dr. Orey specifically discusses how some students may remember Robert E. Lee by associating him with their favorite pair of Lee jeans among other things. As long as we are able to make those connections by associating the information with things we know, we gain a much stronger understanding of it. Dual coding hypothesis is a theory that illustrates that “information is stored as text and images” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). In other words, the link between a specific text and an image that corresponds with it will help us to find a deeper meaning as well as help us remember it later on. Lastly, Dr. Orey introduced us to the network model of memory. Robert Biegler states in the article “Network Models of Memory and Distributed Coding” that “The common features of network models are that activation flows through connections or links between units or nodes. Activation flows through many links at the same time, providing parallel distributed processing” (Biegler). When we are able to network our information, it gives us a more in-depth understanding of the content because we are connecting it to other information. Rather than learning information in individual sections, it helps us our long term memory to build on the information

Chapter four in “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007, p. 73-85) discusses the instructional strategy Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers. As stated, this strategy “focuses on enhancing students’ ability to retrieve, use, and organize information about a topic” (Pitler et al., 2007). While the book lists several generalizations that support this theory, I think there are three that are most important. The first generalization says to focus on what is important in the material and not the useless information, the second includes higher-level questions for a deeper understanding, and lastly, asking questions before the learning experience is an efficient tool. In order to effectively use these generalizations, the book also offers different learning instructions that incorporate technology. While there are several listed such as word processing applications, spreadsheet software, and organizing and brainstorming software, I think two of the most useful instructional strategies are the virtual field trip and the concept map. Using these two tools, a teacher can create a concept map to show the students what they will be learning, and then show a virtual field trip that focuses on the key nodes of information in the map. The use of the map keeps information organized and helps students to make connections to the material. The virtual field trip gives the students the real life experience they can associate with the knowledge they’re gaining. Bringing it back to Dr. Orey’s cognitive learning theories, the use of concept maps and virtual field trips helps to develop the limited short-term memory and elaboration. It develops the short-term memory because the student is being asked to focus on only the nodes that are presented in the concept map. Likewise, the students are able to elaborate on a specific topic with the use of the virtual field trip.

Summarizing and note taking are also instructional strategies that were illustrated in chapter six of “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works” (Pitler et al., 2007). As stated, this strategy “focuses on enhancing student’s ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form” (Pitler et al., 2007). With summarizing, the authors point out that it is important for students to understand how to analyze the information being given in order to find out what is the most important. They need to know what they can delete or add in order to gain the most from their notes. With note taking, it is mentioned that taking verbatim notes is the least effective way of taking notes, notes should be used as study guides, and the more notes that are taken, the better (Pitler et al., 2007). Several recommendations are given as to how to incorporate technology into these strategies. With summarizing in particular, I especially like the use of the auto summarizing tool in Word. It is an easy tool for students to grasp and they can use it anywhere they have access to Word. With note taking, I am most apt to use a concept map. In referencing Paivio’s theory (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011) of dual coding, which suggests that humans remember things in text and images, the concept map is able to do just that. Whether students are following the teacher’s concept map or they are creating their own, they are being asked to use a series of pictures and text to find a deeper meaning. This also ties into the strategy of networking, where we are able to tie several concepts of information by focusing on one central question or node.

Both of these strategies are important to use in the classroom as they focus on several different types of learning styles. As students become more familiar with them through class interaction, it is my hope that they would begin using the strategies in everyday life.


Biegler, R. (n.d.). Network models of memory and distributed coding. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.






3 Responses to “Cognitivism in Practice”

  1. Sandra Doty Says:


    I agree that the concept map has a great many uses for the classroom educator. Not only does it organize the information to be taught in a logical manner, it can create the connections that students require to link it together. Keeping in mind that cognitive learning theories are all about the connections, this becomes a powerful weapon in a teacher’s arsenal.

    I attempted to create a concept map with my class using and was surprised at how easy it was to create and manipulate it. The drawback for me was that in forming the connections we were unable to provide any linking terminology to enhance the type of connection made. It may be that I am just not as familiar with the software as I need to be, but I believe that it is a resource worth checking out.

    • emilypartyka Says:

      I also noticed the lack of linking words with SpiderScribe. However, I hadn’t noticed it until I was looking around at different examples on the web. I was also finished with my map by the time I looked at the other examples, so I kept my original map. I think since we are going through the maps with our students that we can fill in those linking words as we go. Or perhaps the students can even decide how they should be linked! Thanks for the comment!

  2. corelat1008 Says:

    I strongly agree with your last statement. The strategies that we are being introduced to appeal to a many different learning styles. I tend to encourage the use of the concept mapping software, but this week’s resources encourage me to go outside of my comfort zone. It is my job to introduce students to a wide variety of strategies. Once they are familiar with the different strategies, they will implement the ones that best suit their purpose and their learning style.


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