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White Paper

How Do We Learn? Four cognitive models explained


Educational research is driven by an understanding of cognition. Without having some theoretical basis for understanding how students think and learn, there can be no warranted claims about how instructors should teach to maximize student learning and success. However, there seems to be a lack of consensus among cognitive models in the educational research community. This can be a challenge since varying lenses may have different implications for both research and practice. This white paper explores why it is important for an educational researcher to understand these implications and provides a general discussion of the predominate views of cognition with respect to educational research along with the assumptions and implications each brings associated with (1) how knowledge is stored, (2) how learning occurs, (3) how teaching can maximize student success, and (4) how knowledge and understanding can be assessed.

How Do We Learn? Four cognitive models explained

How Do We Learn? Four cognitive models explained


Jacquelyn Kelly

Jacquelyn Kelly, Ph.D., is an Associate Dean at University of Phoenix with more than 15 years of experience in science and math education. Her expertise is in translating STEM education research into practice at institutions of higher education. Kelly earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Science Education from Arizona State University. Her master's degree is in Materials Science and Engineering from Arizona State University. Her undergraduate degree is in Physics and Chemistry from California State University, San Marcos. She has been principal investigator and co-principal investigator of multiple federal grant projects to develop science education support for rural area K-12 teachers and to develop student government science officer roles in K-12. Kelly’s previous positions include science teaching, teacher evaluator for the county education service agency, and program director for professional development programs for science and math educators.