Cognitive Theories of Learning

This week’s readings on cognitive theories of learning gave me things to think about in terms of the education system in the United States. A distinction was made between two types of learning: rote and meaningful. Rote learning refers to learning based on memorization and meaningful refers to making connections between material learned and what it means. An additional point was made about how neither is superior to the other, but rote learning has been viewed negatively because of its overuse. I would definitely agree that rote learning is overused. In the current climate, there is so much emphasis placed on standardized test scores that it appears to be not as much emphasis on meaningful learning.

One can argue that the creation of the No Child Left Behind act was a major impetus for the current direction in which the education system is going. Under this act, standardized test scores are a major determining factor for schools to receive or lose funding. This creates a climate in which teachers are pressured to make sure that students learn all of the material for the tests and in which a more holistic learning environment cannot be fostered. Besides the implications for schools that are unable to produce adequate test scores and lose funding because of it, there are also broader implications for the students in the education system. They are force fed information with little connection to the real world and how the information can be used outside of class. Not only is there an over-reliance on a particular type of learning, there are not enough messages given to students regarding how and why the information is important to them in the long run.

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