Cognitivism in Practice

Students learn when they process information in various and meaningful ways.  Information processing is the center of cognitive learning theories (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  Using multiple senses to present information increases learning (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  Educators can enhance students’ ability to process information using cues, questions, and advance organizers, and summarizing and note taking as instructional strategies.   These instructional strategies are even more efficient with the integration of technology.  Teachers can effectively incorporate the cognitive learning theory and instructional strategies into their classrooms through the use of virtual field trips and concept mapping.

The use of cues, questions, and advance organizers is one instructional strategy teachers can utilize through virtual field trips.  Cues, questions, and advance organizers enhance students’ skills for remembering, using, and organizing knowledge about a subject (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012).  When this instructional strategy is used before, during, and after a virtual field trip, students have a way to arrange old and new information.  Orey (as cited in Laureate Education, n.d.b) stated that virtual field trips produce episodic experiences, which connect to the cognitive theory.   An episodic experience is one type of information stored in long-term memory (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  Virtual field trips make it easier for students to access the information at a later time because the information is stored in long-term memory.

Another instructional strategy that incorporates the cognitive learning theory is summarizing and note taking.  Summarizing and note taking is an instructional strategy that helps students arrange information in a brief new format (Pitler et al., 2012).  In this strategy, one way to present information is by making a concept map about the information.  To enhance this instructional strategy, teachers can have students use concept mapping tools online.  Concept mapping tools aid students in organizing information and linking between concepts by replicating the network model of memory (Laureate Education, n.d.a).  When students use concept maps online, they can quickly add information about a topic and make changes as necessary.

These instructional strategies will help me teach for understanding because they provide a format for students to process information.  Virtual field trips provide students with a visual experience of what they are learning, and this information is organized using cues, questions, and advance organizers as an instructional strategy.  Concept maps are a way for teachers to integrate the summarizing and note taking instructional strategy into their classroom.  Both of these strategies combined with the use of technology help students organize information and develop a deeper understanding of the content.


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Behaviorist learning theory [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.b). Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video file]. Retrieved from


6 thoughts on “Cognitivism in Practice

  1. Although my experiences with virtual field trips is limited, I think they are a great tool. Students are able to learn on their own while being cued and guided by the teacher. As long as the resources are available to utilize this tool, I believe students will enjoy lessons set up in such a fashion. My school technology is limited and so are funds, thus causing some difficulties with virtual field trips.


    • Have you looked into applying for grants for the technology? I also was limited to technology resources and applied for a grant for iPads in my classroom. My principal supported my application for the grant and said he would match the funds the grant would provide. Now my school has an abundance of technology resources. The funding was not always there, but taking one small step in the right direction made a difference.



  2. Hi Stephanie,

    My experiences with virtual field trips are also limited, but I am excited to learn more about how to implement these in my classroom. I had my students take part in one this week and it went really well. I combined the trip with a scavenger hunt activity that required the students to collaborate with one another. This would also be really helpful with two novels that I teach that involve cross-country road trips. As you mentioned, the field trips will help students cement the new information into their long term memory. Do you use virtual field trips in your class? Are there certain lessons that you teach throughout the year that you think virtual field trips would improve?

    Jessica B.


    • This week was my first week experimenting with virtual field trips. I loved the experience and so did my students. I plan to incorporate them into a lot more of my science and my language arts curriculum to help students to explore weekly essential questions. I think virtual field trips in science and language arts will create more meaningful learning experiences for my students that will help them in future application the knowledge they gain.



  3. Stephanie,
    I too, am planning on using virtual field trips to help my students connect with new information. Have you come across any sites that are good resources for virtual field trips?


    • Nicole,

      The only one I have used so far is the I am interested in exploring more websites that would work for my classroom. I think there are a lot of great resources on the tech resources in our classroom, but finding ones that will support the second grade core is a little more tricky. Do you have any suggestions?



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