From a cognitivist perspective, learning is a change in mental representations and associations brought about by experiences. Greeno, Collins, and Resnick write that cognitivists view learning as “transforming significant understanding we already have, rather than simple acquisitions written on blank states”. This follows the standard cognitivist view of learning that assumes that mental processes exist, and can be studied scientifically. Brandt and Perkins noted that early research in cognitivism “focused primarily on information processing, especially pattern recognition, memory, and problem solving. The mind was considered a rule-governed computational device. A scientist’s task was to identify the specific rules by which the mind manipulates symbols to arrive at results”. This view reflects a common metaphor used by many cognitivists that the mind works in the same way as a computer; therefore, learning takes place by applying set-in-place algorithms. Brandt and Perkins go on to write that, “Over time, cognitive scientists gradually expanded their attention to include a remarkable array of human activities: the formation of judgments, decision making, creativity, critical thinking, and even the emotions” .
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A Cognitivist Approach to Learning