Education | Applied Cognition and Learning Strategies
P544 | 6006 | Dr. Joyce Alexander
Aims: In this course we will address applied cognitive learning
principles and strategies such as: human information processing,
schema theory, the role of prior knowledge in learning, thinking
skills and problem solving, mnemonic/memory aids, study skills,
expert-novice research, reading comprehension strategies, process
writing, problem representation and associated buggy algorithms in
math, misconception research in science, ill-structured problems in
social studies, and issues of competence addressed by new cognitive
assessment tools. Students will be encouraged to consider how their
own areas of interest are influenced by new strategies or approaches
within cognitive psychology.
Structure and Approach:
Class will meet daily as listed above. Class sessions will follow a
lecture/discussion/seminar format. Lectures will be intended to
provide: information about historical context; description, analysis
and comparison of theoretical approaches; examination of research
methods; and overview of important issues, trends, and possible
future directions for the field.
Discussions will focus on readings. Each class period, reading
articles will be assigned. The student will be responsible for
reading both the articles and relevant book chapters. Seminar
discussions will be pursued to link student interests to cognitive
I will present a small amount of background information, historical
context, and/or theoretical background for each topic under
consideration. There will be relevant chapters from the book.
Extensive reading will be assigned early to develop a common
cognitive knowledge base along with your own personal models and
viewpoints on learning and cognition. Discussions will revolve around
the articles that were read. These articles will be found in a
reading packet available on reserve in the library. Group activities
will be incorporated to foster conceptual growth and understanding.
Such activities are meant to open your eyes to the diverse thinking
and learning possibilities available to each of you every day. In
effect, this class will help you learn about yourself as a learner
and should serve as a vehicle for furthering your thinking, writing,
and presentations skills.
Objectives: After the course, students should be able to:
1.Understand theoretical and practical significance of applied
2.Feel comfortable in developing and using cognitive strategies
3.Appreciate the importance of both a knowledge base and general
problem solving strategies
4.Appreciate individualizing strategy instruction and the potential
of struggling students
5.Arrange learning environments wherein students reflect on their
6.Build student respect and responsibility for thinking and learning
7.Explain the significance of expert-novice differences in various
8.Reflect upon educational innovations and recommendations related to
9.Realize what journals and authors address issues regarding this
10.Evaluate importance of learning and cognition research
Requirements: Students are expected to be prepared for class by
doing the assigned reading, and to contribute to class discussion.
Thought questions are included in the packet for all the assigned
book chapters and should be completed before coming to class.
Students will be required to generate higher level thinking questions
for all other articles. These questions (at least 2 for each topic)
should be brought in on 5 X 7 cards and turned in at the beginning of
each class (beginning with the topic of “Memory, Metacognition, and
Self-regulation” on 2/11).
Quiz: There will be one quiz given 2/4 at the beginning of class.
This is to ensure that all students are familiar with the terms and
ideas that we will be building on all semester.
Conference: A conference will be held on the last day of class 4/28.
As is typical with a conference we will have posters, guest speakers
or panels of speakers, symposium, and great debates. Along with your
classmates, we=ll decide which of these formats will work best among
us. Be ready to voice your choice.
A. Poster. The paper must be a research design paper. The topic of
the paper should be directly related to learning and cognition,
although you are encouraged to make the paper relevant to your own
research interests. The paper will propose a study to answer a
question that you have found to be still open to debate in the
literature. You will present background on other studies done,
propose a method, tell us expected results, and include discussion of
what the expected results mean for the literature. One copy of the
paper will be turned in on the last day of class. The other will be
used for a poster session on the last day of class.
Interested individuals will later receive relevant references
1. Instructions from APA regarding poster presentations.
2. Article by Renfrow & Impara (1989) on keeping presentations simple.
3. Research Poster Contents handout
B. Fictional symposium. You can create a unique dialogue among
researchers and theorists hashing out an issue. Identify 1-3 key
players in a field and select a controversial article(s) on a topic
they might be interested in and write a fictitious but plausible
symposium in which not all players totally agree. Write the
transcript to the discussion they might have on this controversial
topic. Include research flaws and concerns that would be noted by
each member as well as theoretical concerns. A copy of the transcript
will be due on the last day. You should also be prepared to role-play
this symposium during our mini-conference. Obviously, this can be
done as a group.
C. Rejoinders and Rebuttals. For this project, you should find a
sequence of applied cognitive articles wherein the authors are
debating each other and trace their arguments. (e.g., commentary-
reply-rejoinders, point-counterpoint). Then write your own rebuttal
or response to them. Or, if you cannot find any, just use a
controversial article and write a critique to it. You should trace
the arguments, points, and counterpoints made in each article as they
relate to the material from this class. If you feel creative, you
might want to write a few plausible arguments the original authors
might make to your claims or add a visual regarding the debate. You
should also be prepared to give this oration on the last day.
Abstracts: Two abstracts will be required. Any articles you are
reading for the conference or just because you are interested in it
can be used for each abstract (be sure to stick to topics related to
learning and cognition). You are expected to read and critically
examine each article. The abstract will have the following sections:
Bibliographical information, Purpose (where you will lay out any
theoretical background and specific hypotheses; give me a context),
method (including subjects, materials (if appropriate), procedure,
design, and variables - independent and dependent), results (what
types of statistics were performed, not necessarily all the numbers,
but what was found), conclusions (author's discussion), and
evaluation (your thoughts about the article, problems or interesting
results). An example is attached. The abstracts will be turned in
with a copy of the article and will be graded by peers (see attached
form). Due Dates are: 3/3 & 4/1. Peer evaluation due dates are: 3/22
Grading: Grading for the course will be determined as follows:
-the quiz = 20 %
-conference proceedings choice 40%
-the required abstracts = 15 %
-peer evaluations of abstract = 10%
-participation in discussion = 15 %
Sample Grading Criteria (as if for last assignment - equally weighted)
- ideas (richness of information, elaboration, originality,
- originality (creativity, unusualness, artistic, max effort, risk)
- coherence (clarity, unity, organization, transitions, logical
sequence, synthesis, style)
- completeness (adequate info presented, fulfilled spirit of
assignment, depth of discussion)
- linkage (relevancy to class, important points made, shows evidence
of learning, chapter and readings references)
- mechanics (spelling, format, punctuation, grammar, sentence
structure, referencing style)
- overall holistic (general impression rating, summary rating)
Each class day an assignment is late will result in loosing 10% of
the available points.
Please make sure that you follow all policies as outlined in the
student handbook on academic dishonesty, plagiarism, etc.
Please note: I will not give incompletes except for extreme medical
Readings: There is one textbook for readings each week: Bruning, R.
H., Schraw, G. J., Norby, M. N., & Ronning, R. R. (2004). Cognitive
Psychology and Instruction (4th edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
In addition, a packet of readings will be available in the Education
Library or online.
Sequence of Instruction:
1/12 Applied Cognitive Terms and Principles, Chaps 1, 2, 3
1/14 Applied Cognitive Terms and Principles
1/19 No Class
1/21 Applied Cognitive Terms and Principles
1/26 Information Processing Theory, Chaps 4, 5, Article #1, #2
1/28I nformation Processing Theory
2/2 Information Processing Theory
2/9 Problem solving and critical thinking, Chap 8
2/11 Memory, Metacognition, and Self-Regulation #3, #4, #5
2/16 Strategy Instruction #6, and (#7 and #8) or (#9 and #10)
2/18 Strategy Instruction
2/23 Context matters pp. 202-211 Chap. 10
2/25 Context matters #11, #12
3/1 Adult Strategy Use #13, #14
3/3 What do we know about strategy instruction? ABST #1
3/8 What are learners doing in reading and why? #15, #16
3/10 What are learners doing in reading and why?
3/15 Spring Break
3/17 Spring Break
3/22 What are learners doing in writing and why? #17 and (#18 or #19)
PEER REVIEW #1
3/24 What are learners doing in writing and why?
3/29 What are learners doing in math and why? #20, #21
4/1 What are learners doing in math and why? ABST #2
4/5 What are learners doing in science and why? #22 and (#23 or #24)
4/7 What are learners doing in science and why?
4/12 What are learners doing in social science and why? #25, #28 and
(#26 or #27)
4/14 What are learners doing in social science and why? PEER REVIEW #2
4/19 Alternative Cognitive Assessments #29, #30, #31
4/21 Alternative Cognitive Assessments
4/26 Alternative Cognitive Assessments
4/28 Mini-Conference MINI CONF CHOICE
Weekly Course Readings
Information Processing Theory/Knowledge
#1 Alexander, P. A., Schallert, D. L., & Hare, V. C. (1991). Coming
to terms: How researchers in learning and literacy talk about
knowledge. Review of Educational Research, 61(3), 315-343.
#2 Li, J. (2003). U.S. and Chinese cultural beliefs about learning.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 258-267.
Memory, Metacognition, and Self-Regulation
#3 Paris, S. G., & Winograd, P. (1990). How metacognition can promote
academic learning and instruction. In B. F. Jones & L. Idol (Eds.),
Dimensions of thinking and cognitive instruction (pp. 15-51).
Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
#4 Boland, A. M., Haden, C. A., & Ornstein, P. A. (2003). Boosting
children’s memory by training mothers in the use of an elaborative
conversational style as an event unfolds. Journal of Cognition and
Development, 4 (1), 39-65.
#5 Schneider, W., Knopf, M., & Stafenek, J. (2002). The development
of verbal memory in childhood and adolescence: Findings from the
Munich Longitudinal Study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 751-
#6 Derry, S. J. (1990). Learning strategies for acquiring useful
knowledge. In B. F. Jones & L. Idol (Eds.), Dimensions of thinking
and cognitive instruction. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum (read only pages
#7 King, A. (1994). Guiding knowledge construction in the classroom:
Effects of teaching children how to question and how to explain.
American Educational Research Journal, 31(2), 331-368.
#8 Meyer, B. F., Middlemiss, W., Theodorou, E., Brezinski, K. L.,
McDougall, J., & Bartlett, B. J. (2002). Effects of structure
strategy instruction delivered to fifth-grade children using the
internet with and without the aid of older adult tutors. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 94, 486-519.
#9 Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs. T. E., & Graetz, J. E. (2003).
Reading comprehension instruction for secondary students: Challenges
for struggling students and teachers. Learning Disability Quarterly,
#10 De la Paz, S., & Graham, S. (2002). Explicitly teaching
strategies, skills, and knowledge: Writing instruction in middle
school classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 687-698.
#11 Bjorklund, D. F., & Rosenblum, K. E. (2002). Context effects in
children’s selection and use of simple arithmetic strategies. Journal
of Cognition and Development, 3, 225-242.
#12 Schuh, K. (2003). Knowledge construction in the learner-centered
classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 426-442.
Adult Strategy Use
#13 Rummel, N., Levin, J. R., & Woodward, M. M. (2003). Do pictorial
mnemonic text-learning aids give students something worth writing
about? Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 327-334.
#14 Linderholm, T., & Van den Broek, P. (2002). The effects of
reading purpose and working memory capacity on the processing of
expository text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 778-784.
What are learners doing in reading and why?
#15 Wasik, B. A., & Bond, M. A. (2001). Beyond the pages of a book:
Interactive book reading and language development in preschool
classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 243-250.
#16 Pressley, M., & Associates (1990). Cognitive Strategy Instruction
that Really Works (Chapter 3 - Reading comprehension strategies, pp.
45-69). Cambridge, MA: Brookline.
What are learners doing in writing and why?
#17 Scardamelia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1987). Knowledge telling and
knowledge transforming in written composition. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.),
Advances in applied psycholinguistics : Vol. 2 Reading writing and
language learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.
#18 McKeough, A., & Genereaux, R. (2003). Transformation in narrative
thought during adolescence: The structure and content of story
compositions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 537-552.
#19 McCutchen, D. (2000). Knowledge, processing, and working memory:
Implications for a theory of writing. Educational Psychologist, 35
What are learners doing in math and why?
#20 Romberg, T. A. (1992). Mathematics learning and teaching: What we
have learned in ten years. In C. Collins & J. N. Mangieri (Eds.),
Teaching thinking: An agenda for the 21st century (pp. 43-64).
Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
#21 Rittle-Johnson, B., Siegler, R. S., & Alibali, M. (2001).
Developing conceptual understanding and procedural skill in
mathematics: An iterative process. Journal of Educational Psychology,
What are learners doing in science and why?
#22 Novak, J. D., & Musonda, D. (1991). A twelve-year longitudinal
study of science concept learning. American Educational Research
Journal, 28(1), 117-153.
#23 Echevarria, M. (2003). Anomalies as a catalyst for middle school
students’ knowledge construction and scientific reasoning during
science inquiry. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 357-374.
#24 Chinn, C. A., & Malhotra, B. A. (2002). Children’s responses to
anomalous scientific data: How is conceptual change impeded? Journal
of Educational Psychology, 94, 327-343.
What are learners doing in social studies and why?
#25 Glover, J. A., Ronning, R. R., & Bruning, R. H. (1990). Cognitive
psychology for teachers (Chapter 14: Social science problem solving,
pp. 355-367). New York: Macmillan.
#26 Brophy, J., & Allenman, J. (2002). Primary-grade students’
knowledge and thinking about the economics of meeting families’
shelter needs. American Educational Research Journal, 39, 423-468.
#27 Cornbleth, C. (2002). Images of America: What youth do know about
the United States. American Educational Research Journal, 39, 519-
#28 Nuthall, G. (2000). The anatomy of memory in the classroom:
Understanding how students acquire memory processes from classroom
activities in science and social studies units. American Educational
Research Journal, 37(1), 247-304.
Alternative Cognitive Assessment and achievement
#29 Perkins, D. N., & Salomon, G. (1989). Are cognitive skills
context bound? Educational Researcher, 18(1), 16-25.
#30 Cole, N. S. (1990). Conceptions of educational achievement.
Educational Researcher, 19(3), 2-7.
#31 Interviews on assessment issues with Lorrie Shepard and James
Popham. Educational Researcher, 20(5), 21-27.
Peer Evaluation Form for Abstracts
Please make comments in the space provided and assign points out of
the total available within each section.
I. Is the article related to educational psychology? 1 pt
II. Is the theoretical background clear? Do you know where the
article is coming from? 2 pts
III. Are hypotheses specified? (even if they were not in the original
article). 2 pts
IV. Are the subjects identified (if not, is it the fault of the
original writers - if so, give point) 1 pt
V. Is the procedure spelled out? Can you tell what the subjects
went through in this experiment? 1 pt
VI. Is the design correctly identified? If not included, give no
point 1 pt
VII. Are the independent and dependent variables correctly identified?
VIII. Are the results clear? All the numbers don't have to be there,
but can you tell which group did better or how the hypotheses above
turned out? If the hypotheses are not addressed, points should be
deducted. 2 pts
IX. Does the abstract seem to sum up the original conclusions? 1 pt
X. Does the abstract provide interesting comments on the original
design or bring up good points about their conclusions or tie them
into something else we've been reading in the evaluation section 2 pts
TOTAL 15 pts