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Applying Cognitive Learning Theories to Engage and Motivate Students in STEM Classrooms . Stephen Tonks Educational Psychology May 15, 2013. Cognitive Science & STEM Ed. Learning is constructive , not receptive Motivation and beliefs are integral to cognition

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applying cognitive learning theories to engage and motivate students in stem classrooms

Applying Cognitive Learning Theories to Engage and Motivate Students in STEM Classrooms

Stephen Tonks

Educational Psychology

May 15, 2013

cognitive science stem ed
Cognitive Science & STEM Ed
  • Learning is constructive, not receptive
  • Motivation and beliefs are integral to cognition
  • Social interaction is fundamental to cognitive development
  • Knowledge, strategies, and expertise are contextual

*Bruning, Schraw, Norby, and Ronning(2004)

1 learning is constructive
1. Learning is Constructive
  • Constructivism: People combine existing knowledge with new information to build new knowledge
  • Learning = constructing meaning
  • Students need to make their own discoveries and thus construct their own knowledge
  • Duckworth (2006) on Piaget: Create a classroom where students can discover

*Piaget & others

constructivism in the classroom
Constructivism in the Classroom
  • Any amount of “active” helps
  • Background knowledge is HUGE
  • A range of experiences and many experiences help students learn
  • Experiences become background knowledge
  • Expending effort & deep processing aids memory
3 social interaction is fundamental
3. Social Interaction is Fundamental
  • Cognitive skills evolve from social interactions with parents, teachers, etc.
  • Culture uses “tools for thought”
    • Speech, writing, mathematical & scientific concepts
  • Relatedness as a psychological need
  • In classrooms: Groupwork, scaffolding, peer tutoring, reciprocal teaching, CUT SOME OF THESE?

*Vygotsky; Deci & Ryan

4 cognitions are c ontextual
4. Cognitions are Contextual
  • Cognitive growth occurs in a sociocultural context that influences the form it takes
  • Transfer of advanced skills is difficult
  • EXPAND?
    • Knowledge, strategies, expertise

*Vygotsky

2 motivation beliefs are integral
2. Motivation & Beliefs are Integral
  • Many modern motivation theories
  • Self-efficacy (Bandura, etc.)
  • Mindset Theory (Dweck)
  • Achievement Goals (Pintrich, etc.)
  • Self-Determination Theory
    • Three Psychological Needs

*Deci& Ryan

self determination theory three psychological needs
Self-Determination TheoryThree Psychological Needs
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Competence
  • Innate
  • Fulfillment = Good
  • Deprivation = Bad
  • A-B-C (for easy recall)
  • Environment can change motivation

*Deci & Ryan

perceived autonomy
Perceived Autonomy
  • Students need to feel that they have some control over their own learning
mark twain on autonomy
Mark Twain on Autonomy

…Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

autonomy support
Autonomy Support
  • How to
    • Provide choices
    • Encourage
    • Give rationales
  • How not to
    • Give orders
    • Use bribes
    • Make threats
  • Giving students SOME control over their own learning
  • Opposite of controlling behavior
why support autonomy
Why Support Autonomy?
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Retention of content
  • Achievement
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Positive affect
now apply i t
Now, Apply It!
  • Take one concept that you teach, and apply an idea from today