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2.2 Cognitivism

Cognitivism largely replaced behaviourism and came to prominence in the late 20th century. This theory concentrated on the organisation of knowledge, information processing and decision-making. Ausubel (1960) and Bruner (1966) were two of the main proponents of cognitivism. Bruner pursued the notion 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 teaching environment, this could manifest itself in the teacher providing regular and focused support to each learner in the early stages of the course, but making less frequent supporting interventions as the learner begins to act successfully by themselves. Ausubel’s work in this area would suggest that it is better for the teacher to provide some materials in advance, that allow the learner to ‘organise’ their learning approach prior to them accessing the actual course materials, so that they have already developed much of the skillset they will need to successfully undertake the course.

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