Cognitive Psychology | TESL Issues

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology

The subject matter of cognitive psychology consists of the main internal psychological processes that are involved in making sense of the environment and deciding what action might be appropriate. These processes include attention, perception, learning and memory, language, problem solving, reasoning and thinking (Eysenck, 2001, p. 1).

Contemporary cognitive psychology has built on the very old idea that things are easier to learn if they make sense (Shepard, 1991).

Cognitive theory suggests that learning is a process of knowledge construction; that learning is knowledge-dependent: and that learning is tuned to the situation in which it takes place. Learning occurs, not by recording information but by interpreting it so that instruction must be seen not as direct transfer of knowledge but as an intervention in an ongoing knowledge construction process (Resnick, 1989).

It is in contrast with behaviorism. It is concerned with the way in which the human mind thinks and learns. That’s why cognitive psychologists are interested in the mental processes that are involved in learning. This includes such aspects as how people build up and draw upon their memories and the ways in which they become involved in the process of learning.

In a cognitive approach the learner is seen as an active participant in the learning process, using various mental strategies in order to sort out the system of the language to be learned. Here, the learners are required to use their minds to observe, think, categorise, and hypothesise, and in this way, to gradually work out how the language operates.

The first approach to cognitive psychology that we shall consider is ‘information processing’.

Cognitive code learning that appeared after audiolingualism is a good manifestation of ‘cognitive psychology’.

In cognitive psychology, the concept of ‘human intelligence, IQ’ is really important.

Cognitive approaches to second language acquisition appeared after behavioristic ones, e.g. audiolingualism.

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