Cognitivism (learning theory)
Cognitivism is the theory that humans generate knowledge and meaning through sequential development of an individual’s cognitive abilities, such as the mental processes of recognize, recall, analyze, reflect, apply, create, understand, and evaluate. The Cognitivists' (e.g. Piaget; Bruner,; Vygotsky) learning process is adoptive learning of techniques, procedures, organization, and structure to develop internal cognitive structure that strengthens synapses in the brain. The learner requires assistance to develop prior knowledge and integrate new knowledge. The purpose in education is to develop conceptual knowledge, techniques, procedures, and algorithmic problem solving using Verbal/Linguistic and Logical/Mathematical intelligences. The learner requires scaffolding to develop schema and adopt knowledge from both people and the environment. The educators' role is pedagogical in that the instructor must develop conceptual knowledge by managing the content of learning activities. This theory relates to early stages of learning where the learner solves well defined problems through a series of stages.
Jean Piaget’s  Cognitive Development Theory sequenced learning according to infancy [age 0-2: sensor motor], preschool [age 2-7: preoperational], childhood [age 7-11: concrete operational] and adolescence [age 11+: formal operational]. According to Piaget, the ability to learn a concept is related to a child’s stage of intellectual development. Through a series of stages, Piaget explains the ways in which characteristics are constructed that lead to specific types of thinking. This focus on scaffolded early learning and sequential development of mental processes defines the Cognitivists' learning theory.
Lev Vygotsky, in his book Thought and Language, asserts that thought development in children is sequential and dependent upon language development. Children first connect groups of objects with facts forming complexes, then assign the complexes’ names, such that families of objects are formed, then families of objects continue to develop and grow until the child forms concepts. This theory of knowledge development is also known as schema formation. An important concept here is that Vygotsky’s work demonstrates why abstract concepts must be linked to prior knowledge that is gained sequentially. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) demonstrates the need for the guidance and assistance of adults or more-skilled children. A child's unsystematic, disorganized, and spontaneous concepts are met with the more systematic, logical and rational concepts of the instructor during play. Vygotsky uses ZPD as a tool to explain the relationship between a child's learning and their cognitive development. Through the assistance of an instructor, the child is able to learn skills or aspects of a skill that go beyond the child’s actual maturational level. Vygotsky holds that language is fundamental to a child's cognitive growth. Children are able to communicate and to learn from others through dialogue; therefore, high quality verbal scaffolding aids children's cognitive development. This focus on scaffolded early learning and sequential development of mental processes defines the Cognitivists' learning theory.
Jerome Bruner’s work in cognitive psychology lead to a theory delineated in his books The Process of Education and Toward a Theory of Instruction Bruner believed that the goal of education is intellectual development. His theory has four components: 1) curiosity and uncertainty, 2) structure of knowledge, 3) sequencing, and 4) motivation. He recommends that instructors create learning environments that allow students to interact with their environment, connect to prior knowledge, and express the experience either verbally or mathematically. In his book, The Relevance of Education, Bruner applies his theory to infant development. This focus on scaffolded early learning and sequential development of mental processes defines the Cognitivists' learning theory.
See also 
- Concept learning
- Constructivism (learning theory)
- Creative Pedagogy
- Critical pedagogy
- Educational philosophy
- Educational psychology
- Education theory
- Contemporary Educational Psychology — a Wikibook about educational psychology
- Instructional design
- Learning theory (education)
- Piaget, J (1926). The language and thought of the child. London: Routledge & Kegan.
- Piaget, J (1975/1936). La naissance de l’intelligence chez l’enfant. [Emergence of intelligence in the child] in Three theories of cognitive representation and their evaluation standards of training effect. Neuchatel: Delachaux et Nieslé/Heerlson, The Netherlands: Heerlson.
- Bruner, J.S. (1960). The process of education,. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Bruner, J.S. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, MA: Belkapp Press.
- Bruner, J.S. (1971). The relevance of education. New York, NY: Norton.
- Bruner, J.S. (1986). A study of thinking. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.
- Wood, D. (1976). "The role of tutoring in problem solving". Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 17: 89–100.
- Vygotsky, D. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Piaget, J (1936). La naissance de l’intelligence chez l’enfant. [Emergence of intelligence in the child. Neuchatel: Delachaux et Nieslé.