From the psychological point of view, human behavior is preceded by a series of mental processes, which from different perspectives has been studied to understand certain mechanisms in the learning process and one of them isthe cognitive approach.

In this article, we will give you all the information you need to know about the cognitive approach, its most outstanding characteristics and especially what objectives it pursues.

What is the cognitive approach?

The cognitive approach orcognitivism, is a current ofpsychologythat is part of the theories of learning and studies themental mechanisms by which the individual learnsand gives meaning to an object or idea. It encompassesprocesses of the mindsuch as perception,memory, sensation, thought, reasoning and problem solving.

Note: The cognitive approachemphasizespromoting mental processing as amajor actor in human learning.

This approach moves away frombehaviorism, which considered that cognitive processes consisted of a black box where theobservable were the behaviorsthat are carried out a posteriori of those processes, unlike the cognitive approach that paysattention to the mental processesthat occur in the individual in response to a stimulus. (1)

Similarly, the cognitive approach makes an analogy with a data processing system that, like the computer, codes, retains, and operates with symbols and representations. (2)

Understanding this, strategies can be designed for a better understandingof the phenomena that happen around us and the different interrelationships that occur in the world, especially in teaching and education.

What are the objectives of the cognitive approach?

The cognitive orientation was designed to fulfill certain purposes, which we describe below:

1. Analyze the information perception processes

Perception is the way in which the brain interprets the sensations or stimuli it receives through the senses, to form an unconscious or conscious impression of the physical reality of its environment. (3)

This information, when received by the brain, is analyzed on the basis of some acquired experience and on the basis of similar experiences, providing in the first instance an initial vision of what is happening, preparing the organism to give a response.

You should know: The analysis of the information received as a result of a stimulus may have the same responses in different individuals or different responses in different individuals , depending on their accumulated experience.

2. Understand thought and the capabilities of the human mind

Another of the objectives of the cognitive approach is to understand how the human being thinks and what is the capacity of the human mind to understand what happens.

In this context, he considers that it is important to know how thought operates in different circumstances and how it can respond according to the individual capacity of the human mind.

To highlight: The main object of cognitivism is to discover how the human mind is capable of thinking and learning.

3. Understand the codification and internal structuring of knowledge

Another aspect in which the cognitive approach focuses is understanding how it receives and transforms or encodes the information obtained through the senses to make it understandable, how it organizes it to create new concepts , update existing ones or replace existing ones with others. .

For this reason, learning is considered as an active process of association and construction, which is achieved when the information received by the mind is stored in an organized and relevant way.

4. Highlight the influence of the environment on learning

It is inevitable to separate or unlink the influence of the environment on learning , and that is why the cognitive approach has among its purposes to know how it can positively or negatively affect the different events that happen around us.

Note: Learning can be conceptualized as the discrete way in which states of knowledge occur.

What are the representatives of the cognitive approach?

This approach to learning theory has several representatives of which we will mention the best known:

1. Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget (4) , was a Swiss psychologist who pioneered the study of cognitive development in childhood and the creator of epistemology as an experimental science.

To highlight: He affirmed that Mental Lifeis a process of assimilationand also an accommodation to the environment or an adjustment of past experience in the present.

2. David Ausubel

David Ausubel (5) , was an important American psychologist who Published works on cognitive psychology.He was a follower of Jean Piaget (father of constructivism) and his greatest contribution was directed towards the field of psychology and learning .

3. Lev Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky (6) , was a Belarusian psychologist who had a special interest in educational psychology, particularly in the education of children with learning disabilities.

You should know: One of his proposals was that higher mental processes can be considered as a function of mediated activity.

Key Findings

  • The cognitive approach is a psychological current belonging to learning theories.
  • This approach studies the mental mechanisms by which the individual learns.
  • It focuses its importance on promoting Mental processing as the main actor in learning.
  • It includes the cognitive processes of perception, memory, sensation, thought, reasoning and problem solving.

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