Situated Cognition and Meaningful Learning In Classrooms
College students must be able to apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world. Situated cognition can assist teachers in viewing their classrooms as communities of practice (CoPs) and their students as apprentices in new domains of learning.
Situated Cognition’s Importance in Higher Education
Situated cognition, also known as situated learning,’ describes an individual’s knowledge as the result of that person’s learning context and culture. The word refers to a group of theories that all hold that cognition and context are inextricably linked.
Situated cognition proposes that an individual’s behaviors, in addition to the learning setting and culture, constitute the framework for what that individual understands. While learning and growth occur within the individual, the external environment is critical to the learning development process.
In their 1991 book Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Jean Lave and Étienne Wenger pioneered the concept of situated cognition and communities of practice (CoP). In their 1989 paper Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning, John S. Brown, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid presented theories that became the underpinnings of classroom practice by presenting instances from various disciplines in the school curriculum.
The Social Aspect
Considering that learning and knowledge are socially built, it may be better and simpler to refer to the concept as (social) constructivism. What and how that individual learns is closely tied to his or her surroundings, interactions, and collaboration.
To use language as an example, a human learns a language via interacting and communicating with people, as well as being exposed to visual cues linked to the language being acquired. As a result, when learning a language in an immersion setting, the learner is exposed to a wide range of circumstances that ultimately influence her/his speech.
In addition to pronunciation, the student will catch up on words that are highlighted in a specific culture and at a specific point in time. Some words are more commonly used than others depending on the period and even place. If a student is primarily exposed to a work or business setting or culture, the learner is more likely to adopt a professional language character.
Based on the learning situation, the learner may be subjected to the same individual or group of people frequently. A relationship known as the cognitive apprenticeship is developed when a learner is purposely paired with someone or becomes attached to a certain individual while learning to speak a language.
The student is exposed to the expert’s knowledge and abilities in such a connection. As a result, a knowledge transmission belt is constructed, via which the learner and expert share their knowledge and expertise. If the specialist is a native speaker of a language and has grown up in the language’s culture and traditions, that knowledge and experience will be passed on to the student. The expert molds and shapes the student.
The transmission of knowledge and experience can be demonstrated by referring to English as second language learners. When two or more learners are engaged in English language situations, but one is from a different cultural context, they are unlikely to learn English in the same way, for example. As a result, their modes of communication and engagement are likely to differ, reflecting their social and cultural backgrounds.
As another example, individuals brought from new communities and places of residence may attempt to walk on one side of the street or in a certain manner, but it may become clear to that person over time that their manner of walking and directionality may not work. As a result, the individual is likely to alter their habits and style of movement in and among other people.
The same can be said about family members as members of a larger social (family) community or employees entering a new workplace or work environment, as well as the concept of manners. This instance is useful for solidifying the concept of ‘community of practice.’
Forces of social institutions are at work here and rather than being imposed on an individual, modes of interaction and personal conduct become exchanged and shared. The concept of communities of practice is critical for understanding the university classroom. Communities of practice are similar to open forums in that they provide an opportunity for everyone to engage. Students can be classified as legitimate peripheral participants (LPPs) inside the community and as such are essentially novices or newbies to a society who strive to learn the skill of the masters, eventually assisting the society in achieving its goals and growth.
Benefits of Situated Learning for Lecturers and Learners
Situated cognition offers educators a framework for understanding how knowledge is created and transmitted to others. It serves as the foundation for understanding people’s learning processes. Situated learning can be a powerful tool for shaping learners into desirable forms and picking up desired abilities while avoiding others.
University professors in all subjects must understand the significance of context and that social interaction among students drives much of what is learned in the classroom. Because university classes are designed to be interactive, instructors have a natural advantage in facilitating cognitive apprenticeship in the classroom – something Alan Collins, John S. Brown, and Susan E. Newman discuss in their 1987 report, Cognitive Apprenticeship: Instructing the Craft of Reading, Writing and Mathematics, and in their 1988 work under a similar title in Thinking: The Journal of Philosophy for Children.
Educators serve as behavioral models in their courses, setting the tone for student conduct and thought patterns – a process known as “scaffolding.” Instructors become experts of a specific skill (as well as coaches), exhibiting their approach to that craft in the classroom and directing students in their engagement with the same or related tasks. This enables pupils to mimic the skills that will lead to the formation of their mastery. Learners see a model in action and strive to replicate it.
To give educators or apprentices the abilities they need to participate effectively in the real world, the contextual learning process can be executed efficiently without abstract instruction or abstract notions. The more abstract a lesson is, and the more abstract notions it employs, the less genuine the lesson becomes and the less likely it is to mirror what a learner would encounter in the actual world.
Fortunately, educators have a wealth of real-life experiences to draw from and include in the teaching-learning process. This can take the form of simulations that allow students to exhibit problem-solving skills and competencies.
When information is relevant to the activities and learning environment, learning happens. If there is a clear gap between what is being taught and whether that information can be implemented, little learning has likely occurred.
Students must be allowed to engage in repetitive activity in the classroom and be able to freely interact with one another about the process that is going to take place, including the obstructions, obstacles, and challenges, to overcome them and align their abilities more closely to those of the instructor.
Humans cannot be expected to know something without first experiencing it, as is true in most situations in life. The same is true in the university classroom, where instructors should always strive for students to learn by doing and establish a strong link between knowledge and practice.
As instructors of a certain subject, such as political science, history, or sociology, we must remember that we must provide the conditions for students to function as political scientists, historians, or sociologists.
5 Cognitive Learning Principles to Promote Meaningful Learning
The fundamental purpose of cognitive exercises in the assignment is to engage students and move them beyond being observers of learning and education to become participants in the learning.
They should be working together on challenges while being supervised and guided by the instructor. The goal for college professors should be to create activities that expose students to stimuli and help them formulate problem-solving techniques and solutions through personal and group cooperation and creativity, allowing them to use logic and problem-solving skills and therefore get involved.
College professors can design exercises based on the five cognitive learning principles of remembering, understanding, applying, assessing, and creating. These are the essential factors for developing cognitive learning activities at any level.
Understanding demonstration in class is a step toward integrating numerous resources and cognitive processes to improve the meaning of learning. Analytical skills are required when students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of the simplicity or complexity of a given issue. Students practice memory recall during tasks in which they are free to display their understanding skills.
Activities of this type also elicit noises and pictures from students’ memories, compelling them to imagine information in a variety of ways and mentally arrange it before expressing their views or emotions to questions presented in class. Excellent comprehension drills include discussion forums, replying to succinct questions or short quotes, and short in-class debates. Flipping a scenario entails the educator presenting an incident or historical current and asking students about the outcomes or predecessors of that scenario.
Alternatively, educators can give all of these items, including the fundamental event, and ask students to categorize them as an outcome or motivation.
Initiatives that engage students in areas of study, topics, or specific issues assist them in initiating a variety of cognitive processes and executive functions, including memory usage, dealing with instant perceptual and linguistic processing, as well as visual, geographic, sentimental, inspirational, awareness, adaptation, critical thinking and problem-solving, (quick) decision-making process (assessment of appropriateness), organizational, data handling and problem-solving.
Quizzes that challenge students to recall essential material from memory can take the form of annotating maps, building timelines, recalling and writing quotes, creating brief bios or nation profiles, or retelling historical events.
Knowledge application necessitates inventiveness. When pushed to apply what they know, pupils set in action a slew of cognitive processes that encourage one another’s growth. When teaching, a subject might become dull since not all of the information that instructors are required to convey is engaging and exciting; approaching learning in the classroom by addressing these specific cognitive learning principles can change that.
Rather than simply speaking to students, teaching specifics according to the syllabus and getting them involved elicit the active dimension of student participation. Allowing students more time to speak can even lead to positive if unexpected, new directions in the classroom.
Encourage students to collaborate with the class on their favorite book or app. Through this lesson, students will be able to implement what they know on their terms and in some of their familiar surroundings while stepping outside of others. Other types of brief presentations can be quite beneficial, focusing on the introduction and discussion of concepts and definitions (even opposing meanings), as well as the presentation and implementation of theoretical notions.
Even more, thought-provoking is the “What’s the issue with this?” activity, in which professors present statements of circumstances to the class that are either contradictory or offer various types of puzzles or obstacles.
When students are introduced to new and unexpected situations, contexts, and stimuli, they simply become better versions of themselves by simplifying existing technical skills or introducing the student to a natural skill that they were unaware they possessed.
Students’ cognitive skills can be pushed by requiring them to participate in creative activities. Short assignments that challenge their learning limitations can be as basic as drafting an alternate history of an event or detailing how an event could have played out differently.
Other political-style activities require students to write out expected or predicted results of a current occurrence. Students have also responded positively to graphical collages as a means of reinforcing crucial data points through imagery.
Student evaluations might include the appraisal of scenarios or case studies using a comparative perspective. Evaluating and analyzing information can elicit the use of short-term and long-term memory, as well as weigh it against current classroom subjects discussed according to the syllabus and project outcomes. Students can be asked to display a group of data in two or three distinct ways, allowing them to experiment with various analysis and visualization techniques or procedures.
Constructive involvement in the classroom can sometimes take the shape of the simulated focus groups. At the same time, this exercise introduces students to social science methodology, exhibiting research in action. After that, students can be asked to extract key topics from the discussion and complete a brief assessment. Weighing the benefits and drawbacks of actions taken throughout history, in political or international affairs settings, or while applying research methodologies and approaches assist learners to create study-related decisions.