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2.2 Cognitivism

Cognitivism largely replaced behaviourism as a theory of education and concentrated on the organisation of knowledge, information processing and decision making. Bruner (1966) suggested that learners should be given opportunities to discover for themselves relationships that are inherent in the learning material, a teaching technique he named ‘scaffolding’. In an online learning environment, this could mean, for example, educators providing regular and focused support to students in the early stages of a course but making less frequent supporting interventions as the students begin to act successfully by themselves.

Ausubel’s work (1960) indicated that it is better to provide some materials in advance, enabling learners to organise their learning approach, so that once the course begins they have already developed much of the skillset they will need to undertake it successfully.