Education | Learning and Cognition in Education
P540 | 6257 | Dr Jonathan Plucker

Class Web site can be accessed at

Description of the Course

This course is intended as an overview of the major theoretical
approaches to learning and cognition, especially as they are applied
to educational situations. We will spend a considerable amount of
time discussing these theories, but the application of the theories
to specific educational problems will be our main goal.

Keep in mind that this course is essentially a survey of learning,
cognitive, and related theories. Although this means that we have a
lot of ground to cover in a relatively short period of time, please
ask questions and participate in class discussions. In the past, our
best sessions in this class were spent discussing student questions
for the entire class – some of which were only indirectly related to
the topic of the lecture or activity! As is usually the case, we will
all get out of this class what we collectively put into it.


In an effort to practice what educational psychologists preach,
assessment will be determined through a variety of means. Specific
criteria for grading include:

•Three short papers and assignments (30%)

•Class participation (10%)

•One major project (30%)

•One final exam (30%)

We will discuss specific grading criteria when each project, paper,
or exam is assigned, but the basic criteria will always include:

The topic should be treated comprehensively. Ask yourself, “Have I
covered all of the important facets of this topic as it applies to

A fine art, and one that is not easily mastered.

As graduate students in one of the country’s top schools of
education, you have the capacity to go above and beyond the criteria
for each project and paper. You should feel free to do so without my

Some Things You Should Know:

•This course is criterion-graded and not norm-graded. Everyone who
teaches, learns, parents, counsels, coaches, etc., should know
certain things as a result of this course. If you know them and can
show that you know them by the end of the course, you will receive an
A. In this course, we will extend this philosophy so that you may
retake an exam or rewrite a project as many times as is necessary.
Only your best performance will count toward your final grade. Of
course, standards for retakes and rewrites will be at least as high
as for the initial assignment, and probably a little higher.

•The three short papers will be assigned when I think we need them.
In the past, I have used one, two, or all three of them, depending on
the direction we take in class. Before you panic, please realize that
these papers are SHORT (three to seven typed pages in length) and
that I consider factors such as “student stress” when deciding
whether to assign a paper or not. As of right now, two of the papers
are scheduled into the course.

•When completing the assignments, the quality of your writing does
matter, for no other reason than the quality of your writing matters
after you graduate. A well-written paper is also much easier to read
and grade, so please check your grammar, spelling, etc. All
assignments should be typed, double-spaced, and left-justified.

Text (available in bookstore)
Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction (2nd
ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Potentially Useful Background Texts

Ormrod, J. E. (2004). Human learning (4th ed.). Upple Saddle River,
NJ: Pearson/Merrill-Prentice Hall.

Schunk, D. H. (1996). Learning theories: An educational perspective
(2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill.
Any undergraduate educational psychology text

If you need additional information about specific theories and/or
theorists, educational psychology texts generally provide good
overviews. The introductory texts and other relevant books are widely
available: The library has several dozen, and there are always
several copies floating around the building. I also have several and
will make them available to you. In the past, a few students have
asked me for advanced readings on certain topics. These readings are
list on the syllabus as – surprisingly – advanced readings. I can
recommend additional readings on request.

Web Resources

•All readings outside of the main text are on reserve, as are copies
of my lecture notes and course handouts. These materials are
available electronically at The
required password will be distributed in class.

•A section of P540 is occasionally taught over the Web. Its Web site
provides a number of links and topic overviews, all of which may be
helpful as you study certain theories and concepts. Assuming that it
is not taken down in the near future, the URL is:

•The site for this class includes copies of handouts, examples of
assignments, class outlines for the entire semester, and additional
notes and information:

Schedule, Topics, and Assigned Readings

September 2: Syllabus Review, Overview of Learning and Cognition

Sept. 4: Research in Educational Psychology, Introduction to Theories
of Intelligence
Plagiarism, plagiarism Web site
Chapter 1, handouts on e-reserve and class Web site
The following site is a resource on intelligence theory and testing:

Sept. 9 and 11: Theories of Intelligence: Historical and Contemporary
Perspectives, Intelligence Paper Assigned
Intelligence Web site (
Sternberg, R. J. (1984). What should intelligence tests test?
Implications of a triarchic theory of intelligence for intelligence
testing. Educational Researcher, 13(1), 5-15.
Gardner, H. (1995, November). Reflections on multiple intelligences:
Myths and messages. Phi Delta Kappan, 200-209.
Gardner, H. (1998). Are there additional intelligences? The case for
naturalist, spiritual, and existential intelligences. In J. Kane
(Ed.), Education, information, and transformation: Essays on learning
and thinking (pp. 111-131). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill-Prentice
Hall. (advanced reading)
Grigorenko, E. L., Jarvin, L., & Sternberg, R. J. (2002). School-
based tests of the triarchic theory of intelligence: Three settings,
three samples, three syllabi. Contemporary Educational Psychology,
27, 167-208. (advanced reading)
Plomin, R., & DeFries, J. C. (1998). The genetics of cognitive
abilities and disabilities. Scientific American, 278(5), 62-69.
(advanced reading)
Flynn, J. R. (1987). Massive IQ gains in 14 nations: What IQ tests
really measure. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 171-191. (advanced

Sept. 16: Behavioral Theories of Learning: Contiguity and Classical
Chapter 2
Classical conditioning tutorial (available on e-reserves)
Windholz, G. (1997). Ivan P. Pavlov: An overview of his life and
psychological work. American Psychologist, 52, 941-946. (advanced
Beatty, B. (1998). From laws of learning to a science of values:
Efficiency and morality in Thorndike’s educational psychology.
American Psychologist, 53, 1145-1152. (advanced reading)

Sept. 18: Activity: What Do Schools Look Like? Or Mind Maps, Guest

Sept. 23 and 25: Behavioral Theories of Learning: Operant
Conditioning, Intelligence Paper Due Sept. 26
Derr, M. (1997, May). So long to bad dogs. The Atlantic Monthly, 41-
Skinner and Rogers point-counterpoint: Is the control of human
behavior a proper goal for psychology? (advanced reading)

September 30 and October 2: Social Cognitive Theory
Chapter 9, pp. 310-316
Smith, D. (2002, October). The theory heard ‘round the world. Monitor
on Psychology, 30-32. (good overview of large-scale applications of
Bandura’s work)
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development
and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28, 117-148.
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). The effects of media
violence on society. Science, 295, 2377-2379. (advanced reading)

Oct. 7: Behaviorism/Social Cognitive Theory Debate

Oct. 9 and 14: Behaviorist/Social Cognitive Theory School Activity or
Behaviorist/SCT Mind Maps

Oct. 16: Cognitive Approaches to Learning – Introduction, Information-
processing Model
Schedule mid-term meetings
Chapter 3
Chapters 1 and 2 in Gardner, H. (1985). The mind’s new science: A
history of the cognitive revolution. New York: Basic Books. (advanced

Oct. 21: Cognitive Approaches – Memory, Memory, and More Memory
Carney, R. N., & Levin, J. R. (1998). Do mnemonic memories fade as
time goes by? Here’s looking anew! Contemporary Educational
Psychology, 23, 276-297.
Carney, R. N., & Levin, J. R. (2000). Fading mnemonic memories:
Here’s looking anew, again! Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25,
Baddeley, A. (1992). Working memory. Science, 255, 556-559. (advanced
Neisser, U., & Harsch, N. (1993). Phantom flashbulbs: False
recollections of hearing the news about Challenger. In E. Winograd,
U. Neisser, et al. (Eds.), Affect and accuracy in recall: Studies
of "flashbulb" memories. Emory symposia in cognition, 4 (pp. 9-31).
New York: Cambridge University Press. (advanced reading)

Oct. 23: Cognitive Approaches – Metacognition, Major Project Topic
and Outline Due
McGinn, D. (2002, November 11). Guilt free TV. Newsweek, 53-59. and
Springen, K. (2002, November 11). Why we tuned out. Newsweek, 60.
Available in electronic reserves as “Newsweek Special Issue on
Children’s Television.”
Schmitt, M. C., & Newby, T. J. (1986). Metacognition: Relevance to
instructional design. Journal of Instructional Development, 9(4), 29-
Thomas, R. M. (1984, January). Mapping meta-territory. Educational
Researcher, 16-18.

Oct. 28 and 30: Cognitive Approaches – More Info.-processing, Schema
Theory, Cognitive School Activity or Cognitive Mind Maps
Anderson, R. C., et al. (1978). Schemata as scaffolding for the
representation of information in connected discourse. American
Educational Research Journal, 15, 433-440.

November 4: Self-regulation
Chapter 9 (pp. 317-324)
Zimmerman, B. J. (1989). A social cognitive view of self-regulated
academic learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 329-339.
Optional mid-term assessment meetings this week

November 6: Brain Research, Technology Paper Assigned
Chapter 8
Bruer, J. T. (1998). Brain science, brain fiction. Educational
Leadership, 56(3), 14-18.
Jensen, E. (1998). How Julie’s brain works. Educational Leadership, 56
(3), 41-45.
Treffert, D. A., & Wallace, G. L. (2002, June). Islands of genius:
Artistic brilliance and a dazzling memory can sometimes accompany
autism and other developmental disorders. Scientific American, 286
(6), 76-85. (advanced reading)
Bech, N. I. (2003). Neuroscience speaks for practice-oriented
learning (advanced reading). Available at

Nov. 11 and 13: Constructivism, School Activity or Mind Maps
Chapters 6 (pp. 187-208), 9 (pp. 239-253), and 11
Phillips, D. C. (1995). The good, the bad, and the ugly: The many
faces of constructivism. Educational Researcher, 24(7), 5-12. Also,
the response by von Glasersfeld and rejoinder by Phillips in Vol. 25
(6) of the same journal. (Responses are available on the e-reserves
under Von Glasersfeld)
Airasian, P. W., & Walsh, M. E. (1997). Constructivist cautions. Phi
Delta Kappan, 78(6), 444-449.
Frensch, P. A., & Rünger, D. (2003). Implicit learning. Current
Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 13-18. (advanced reading)

Nov. 18: Application Activity

Nov. 20: Situated Cognition Debate, Technology Paper Due
Do not read these four articles until we have talked about them first:
Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition
and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
Anderson, J. R., Reder, L. M., & Simon, H. A. (1996). Situated
learning and education. Educational Researcher, 25(4), 5-11.
Greeno, J. G. (1997). On claims that answer the wrong questions.
Educational Researcher, 26(1), 5-17.
Anderson, J. R., Reder, L. M., & Simon, H. A. (1997). Situative
versus cognitive perspectives: Form versus substance. Educational
Researcher, 26(1), 18-21.

Feel free to read these at any time:
Chapter 5
Stunkel, K. R. (1998, June 26). The lecture: A powerful tool for
intellectual liberation. The Chronicle of Higher Education, A52.
Greeno, J. G., & the Middle School Mathematics Through Applications
Project Group. (1998). The situativity of knowing, learning, and
research. American Psychologist, 53, 5-26. (advanced reading)

Nov. 25: Catch-up Day, Learning Styles
Sternberg, R. J. (1994, Nov.). Allowing for thinking styles.
Educational Leadership, 36-40.
Chapters 1 and 8 in Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Thinking styles. New
York: Cambridge University Press. (advanced readings)

December 2 and 4: Major Project Due, Final Exam Assigned, Final Exam

December 9 and 11: Catch-up Day, Creativity, Major Project
Hennessey, B. A., & Amabile, T. M. (1988). The conditions of
creativity. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), The nature of creativity:
Contemporary psychological perspectives (pp. 11-38). New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg, R. J. (1991, April). Creating creative minds. Phi Delta
Kappan, 72, 608-14.
Very Brief and Informal Major Project Presentations
Course Evaluations

Dec. 18: Final Exam Due
Optional end-of-term assessment meetings
Additional Notes

•Guest speakers will frequently participate in our class. Please
treat them with the level of respect they deserve and to which they
are accustomed.

•If you have to leave early or make other special arrangements,
please notify me as soon as possible. There are very few situations
that cannot be accommodated, but you need to communicate with me in
order for us to solve the problem. For example, if you need to leave
early, I will make every effort to schedule a short break at the time
you have to leave.

•We will discuss a wide range of issues in this class. If you see
something on TV, read something in a newspaper, or otherwise come
across something that you think is pertinent to the class, please
bring it to my attention. In the past, students have brought in
videos, articles, books, etc., which led to some interesting and fun
discussions. During our class discussions, please be sensitive to
your peers and use appropriate, inclusive language.

•I hoped never to have to do this, but I need to ban ringing cell
phones during our class lectures and discussions. If you have a cell
phone with a vibrating ring, this won’t be a problem. If you don’t
but absolutely positively need to have a phone turned on during
class, please bring it my attention before class and do your best to
answer it quickly.

•If you don’t feel well, stay home and rest until you feel better.
Making up what you have missed will not be difficult, and you will be
back on your feet sooner than if you force yourself to attend class.
And everyone who doesn’t get sick because you stayed home will be


•Again, I prefer that the papers/short assignments be typed and spell-
checked, approximately 3 - 7 pages in length, and interesting to
read. Please do not full-justify your papers, which makes them
difficult to read – especially on a computer screen. Speaking of
which, submission of papers and projects via e-mail or the Web is
encouraged. We will discuss them in class in detail when they are

•The major project is purposefully designed with few constraints in
mind. As with the other projects and papers, we will discuss the
project in class in detail when it is assigned, and examples are
provided at the class Web site.

•The final exam will be based on an activity on December 2 and 4. I
will ask you to write a paper in which you answer questions that I
will provide before the activity begins. We will discuss the activity
after it concludes on December 4.