The Cognitive Theory Analysis Free Essay

The cognitive theory gained acceptance in the 1950s and it is used as an alternative to behaviourist theory. According to the behaviourist theory, the learning process of a person may be framed with specific actions that lead to specific responses. This theory failed to recognize cognition. The cognitive theory examines the mind and tries to explain how it works during the learning process.


Albert Bandura developed the social cognitive theory in 1986. The theory proposed that external stimuli do not automatically shape or control people and that inner forces do not drive people.

It further explained that humans learned by observing others in terms of a model of triadic reciprocal determinism. The model is seen as an equilateral triangle where behaviour, cognition, and environmental events influence the development of the model of triadic reciprocal determinism.

The triadic perspective outlines the nature of persons, reciprocal refers to the mutual action while determinism refers to the production of the effect. It further explained that people did not learn by trial and error but by observing others and that the environment contributes to a person’s behaviour.


These are theories that aim at the functions and structure of mental processing. Information processing theories examine the mental processing of humans to understand how people can pay attention to activities occurring within their environment, how they receive information from the environment, how they store the information, and how they retrieve the information for usage.

Assimilation Theory

The Assimilation Theory was first introduced by David Ausubel in 1962. He opined that learning occurs when a person assimilates new concepts into existing concepts. In his theory, he identified two aspects of learning; Meaningful and Role learning. In meaningful learning, learning is related to experiences, there is longer retention of the acquired knowledge, and non-arbitrary. Role learning involves learning about unrelated experiences, shorter retention of knowledge, and arbitrary.

Meaningful learning has three fundamental requirements which include;

1. The learner’s relevant prior knowledge.

2. The Teacher’s material should be meaningful.

3. The learner must choose to use meaningful learning instead of role learning.

Cognitive Load Theory

John Sweller developed the cognitive load theory in the late 1980s and it makes use of some parts of information processing theory to lay emphasis on the basic restraints of simultaneous working memory load on learning during instruction.

Instructional materials are designed with the use of a primary unit of analysis called a schema. In his theory, he opined that to be able to lower the cognitive load on people, a form of instructional design could be developed.

Attribution Theory

The process of causes of behaviour and events are explained by individuals in this theory. This theory examines the various models that attempt to explain these processes. Attribution theory began with the work of Heider. He believed that people were trying to understand the social world and this made them become naive psychologists. Attributions give people cognitive control over their environment and enable them to understand the causes behind behaviours and events.

Attribution theorists have perceived Heider’s distinction to be external (situational) or internal (dispositional) causes of behaviour.

1. Explanatory Attribution

Explanatory attribution enables people to have a deeper understanding of the environment around them and to search for reasons for a particular event. This would help people to pass judgments on the causes of events, even if the proposed cause is not related to the event.

1. Interpersonal Attribution

This occurs when the causes of events among two or more persons.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Cognitive development can be defined as changes in the cognitive process and abilities. Piaget studied the progress of children and developed four stages of cognitive development to have a clearer understanding of how kids can understand the world. He implied that little children should be seen as little scientists that are actively involved in trying to make sense of their environment. He observed his children and developed four stages.

Sensorimotor Stage: Babies up to the age of two years old. They include the infants and the toddlers that receive knowledge through their sensory experiences and by manipulating objects.

Preoperational Stage: In this stage, the kids are between the ages of two and seven years old. The kids are still struggling with logic and they adopt the point of view of others around them even though they learn through pretend play.

Concrete Operational Stage: The kids are between the ages of seven years old and eleven years old. The kids are no longer struggling with logic as they can adopt logic in their thinking and sometimes their thinking could be rigid. In this stage, they struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts.

Formal Operational Stage: This is the stage between adolescence and adulthood. In this stage, abstract and hypothetical concepts are well understood, and there is high adoption of logic and the ability to use deductive reasoning. In the development of his theory, he opined that where children think about the world as they advance in the world undergoes a qualitative change.

Elaboration Theory

This theory was developed by Charlie Reigeluth. According to this theory, in other to achieve optimal learning, instructions should be organized from the simplest to the most complex.

Components of the Theory

1. Elaborative sequence; from simple to complex

2. Learning prerequisite sequences

3. Summary

4. Synthesis

5. Analogies

6. Cognitive strategies

7. Learner control.

Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning

This theory was developed by Richerd Mayer. This theory assumes that there are two media of receiving information. The auditory and visual media. It adopts the multimedia principle that people learn more through words and pictures and not words alone. The auditory and visual media or channels are also referred to as Dual Coding Theory. Each of the channels has a finite capacity. Learning in this theory is a process that involves a lot of filtration, selection, organization, and integration of information based on prior knowledge.

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