Instruction in Classroom-Situated Cognitive Multiplicity of Higher Education. An Understanding Pedagogy

Master's Thesis, 2016

172 Pages


Table of Contents



Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

CHAPTER I Introduction
Academic Acculturating Context: Mono-disciplinary to Trans-disciplinary
My Cultural Contexts: Ethnocentrism to Professionalism
My Unpacking Identities: Ethnic Identity to Academic Professional Identity
Rationale and Significance of the Study
Purpose of the Research

CHAPTER II Philosophical Grounding
My Non-positional Position as Researcher
Multi Paradigmatic Position
Paradigmatic Integration
My Role Position as Researcher in the Field

CHAPTER III Theoretical Considerations
Way of Literature Review
Cognition from Psychological Perspectives
Theories of Behavioral Psychology
Theories of Cognitive Psychology
Cognition from Social Psychological Theories
Integration of Psychological Theories around Cognition
Cognition from Epistemological Perspective
Cognition from Educational Perspective
Grounding of the Taxonomy of Cognitive Learning
Classroom Cognition from Multi-disciplinary Grounds
Individual Difference in Cognition as Theoretical Consensus
Cognitive Multiplicities Embedded in the Theories
Dimensions of Cognitive Multiplicity in Classroom
Understanding Pedagogy of Higher Education
Pedagogical Provision in Higher Education of Nepal
Research on Cognitive Multiplicities and Pedagogy
Post-review Refinement of Research Questions
Conceptual Framework

CHAPTER IV Research Methodology
Research Design
Selection of Site and Research Participants
Research Methods
Quality Concerns
Information Analysis and Interpretation
Ethical Considerations

CHAPTER V Understanding Classroom Situated Cognition
Entering Cognitive World through Meta-Cognitive Path
Cognitive Diversity Revealing Results
Academic Content-Shaped Schemata
Classroom Cognitive Multiplicity

CHAPTER VI Understanding Practiced Pedagogy
Grand Narratives-Derived Contents
Content-driven Pedagogy
Cognition Stimulating Lecture

CHAPTER VII Conceptualizing Pedagogical Transformation
Classroom Pedagogical Reflections
Transforming Pedagogical Praxis
Transformative Dispositions
Voices for Searching Authenticity

CHAPTER VIII Findings and Discussion
Classroom Situated Cognition
Pedagogical Practices
Pedagogical Transformative Dispositions

CHAPTER IX Conclusion and Implications
Pedagogical Designing as my Critical Reflection
Implications for Pedagogical Theory
Implications for Pedagogical Policy
Implications for Pedagogical Practice
Implications for Pedagogical Research



List of Tables

Table 1 Major Research Paradigms and Dimensions

Table 2 Theoretical Cognitive Multiplicities and Possible Classroom Instructions

Table 3 Research Participants in the Study

Table 4 Conceptual Proximity to Idealism in Priori and Posteriori Schematic Texts

Table 5 Impact of Integrated Instructional Pedagogical Practice

List of Figures

Figure 1. Integration of Research Paradigms

Figure 2. Relationship of Meta-cognition, Cognition, Working Memory and Storages of Memory

Figure 3. Continuum of the Cognitive Learning Theories

Figure 4. Types of Cognitive Learning Based on Cognitive Theories

Figure 5. Integration of Multidisciplinary Theories in Classroom Cognition

Figure 6. Dimensions of Cognitive Multiplicity in Classroom

Figure 7. Conceptual Framework

Figure 8. Model of Meta-cognition

Figure 9. Kugel's Stages of Professional Development

Figure 10. Larrivee's Model of Critical Reflective Practice

Figure 11 Novice and Expert Instructors in Everyday Classroom Practice

Figure 12. Designing a Critical Integrated Pedagogy (A researcher’s Proposed Design)

Figure 13. Kugel's Tuning Stage

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


This study began from the context of my lived classroom pedagogical experiences and problems. It intends to re-conceptualize a pedagogical approach to respond the students with cognitively inactive in the classroom of higher education. The background of thesis is set up on the ground of academic professional culture of pedagogical practice in the higher education. It has analyzed the intersecting positions of cognition and pedagogy to respond the cognitively inactive students in the classroom.

Following multi-paradigmatic approach to the thesis process, multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives have been used to interpret the cognitions situated in the classroom students. These perspectives allowed me to hold up a compatible research design, qualitative sounding and quantitative silence design and non-positional position role of researcher. Analytic auto-ethnography was employed as major method followed by other methods and tools like participant observation, interview and group discussion, open- ended questionnaire and unobtrusive measures, has captured the natural, contextual and authentic information being an insider researcher. Activating the meta-cognition of the research participants, the reflective understandings have been drawn from their individually situated cognition. The vignettes, student-composed texts and student and teacher- expressed opinions are the evidences and the data collected from the field. Crystallization of them by interfacing the theories reveals cognitive multiplicities (cognitive process, cognitive style, content schemata and thought system) in the students of higher education.

This research finds that the mono-methodology of current pedagogical practice has not intersected with or responded to cognitive diversities in the classroom. The instructors have possessed the disposition that the three tiered current pedagogical paradigm (grand narrative content, content-driven pedagogy and lecture method/mono method) is desired to transform. Pedagogical transformation through reflection and critical reflection in the pedagogical professional life is an akin process to an instructor. However, an individual perception and effort alone are not sufficient to transform the pedagogical practice of higher education.

As revealed in the implications, Program for Higher Education Instruction, an instructional pedagogical program, is required for the conceptual and provisional transformation. Thesis implies that such program strengthens the pedagogical understanding of novice instructors at the very beginning of the professional entry. Then, the role of the program is expected to transform the instructors’ paradigmatic perspective to care and encourage the thought systems in classroom of higher education. This thesis has proposed critical integrated pedagogy, a pedagogical approach to higher education instruction, to contribute to the classroom pedagogical discourse turning to the cognitive perspectives.


The research that this thesis represents could not have been carried out without the help and support of institutes and many other people.

I am greatly indebted to the University Grants Commission, Nepal which has provided me an economic support as Faculty Fellowship Category for the study of my degree of Masters of Philosophy in education with specialization of Leadership Studies. I am also indebted to Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal which has recommended me as its instructional member and the then Coordinator for MPhil Program who has recommended me as an enrolled student with stating eligibility to get the fellowship.

I am deeply thankful to the research participants who had co-operated me providing their lived experience, classroom instructional understanding and other information which are the central value of this thesis.

I am grateful to Prof. Ganesh Bahadur Singh, Ph. D., MPhil Program Coordinator whose worthy substantive inputs in this thesis and constant encouragement for timely completion stimulated me to get this success.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. Vidya Nath Koirala, Ph. D., the former MPhil Program Coordinator who laid the groundwork of wisdom to set out this thesis journey and walk through out of it.

I am grateful to my thesis supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Peshal Khanal, Ph. D., for his most valuable advice on the procedural aspects and quality concerns of this thesis process particularly in the methodology to maintain qualitative validity.

I am indebted to Dean, Assoc. Prof. Netra Prasad Dhital, a member of thesis evaluation committee, who encouraged me in the process of thesis preparation.

I am very much thankful to Mr. Shiva Ram Pandey, Ph. D. for his judgment of my language schemata, editing on it and appreciation of quality of language, despite of being my non-majoring English Language academic background.

I am also grateful to Mr. Noor Jung Shah who helped me in the formatting of my thesis report to make it technically adequate.

I am also grateful to Vice Chancellor (Pokhara University), Prof. Chiranjibi Sharma, Former Assistant Dean, Prof. Chitra Bahadur Bodhathoki, Prof. Tirtha Raj Parajuli, Prof. Swayam Prakash JBR, Prof. Hom Nath Bhattarai and Assoc. Keshav Raj Pokharel for their encouragement towards the development of academic career.

I thank to Mrs. Sita Bhatta, adminiatrative staff of MPhil programme for her official help to submit it on time.

Last but not the least, I thank to my wife, Kamala Mademba, and son, Darshan Limbu Chongbang for their explicit and implicit contribution to my MPhil study and preparation of this thesis.

Karna Bahadur Chongbang

CHAPTER I Introduction


Teachers or instructors and professors are engaged themselves mostly in the discursive spheres of pedagogy, students’ cognition and discipline bridging the text and context, and theory and practice; often transcending from the normal realms. Within the culture of university scholars’ informal learning community; I have been learning and teaching, and transcending from my normal formal degrees in terms of pedagogical practice and knowledge, and disciplinary orientations. I have been encouraged, to carry out a research, by the student cognition connected events, mentioned as in the vignette-1, 2, 3 and 4, occurred in the campus classroom pedagogical practice, which aroused curiosity in me to explore pedagogical and cognitive realities being practiced and reflections on classroom pedagogical practice in the higher education. In my understanding, the vignettes have sufficiently justified the research importance and relevance.

Academic Acculturating Context: Mono-disciplinary to Trans-disciplinary

Like me, everyone encounters patience of cognitive practice of “s” (Ka) to “1”(Gya) or “afx|v/L” (Barhakhari) as check point to enter and set out the journey of modern education in Nepalese context. Systematic memorization of the meaningless symbols in itself is to purport to set up them into the long term memory of the students. I do not forget that moment at which teacher had held my hand to write the Nepali first alphabet “s” (Ka) and set up a new system or faculty in my mind. The “s”(Ka) and its “peers” were very strange for me because these were neither in our family, neighborhood and community, nor in our play mates, so that, it could be easily familiarized, retained and conceptualized. However, the meaningless symbols on dust-covered wooden board, written beautifully and pronounced rhythmically by shisu class teacher, the lady teacher called Guru Aama, a teacher of the context, created aesthetic value in the mind truly boosted up the pleasure mixed childish spirit, where for the almost shisu and primary school students’ dream on high school education and the higher education were too remote, gloomy, and merely vain due to the socio-cultural and geographical context where we were. Being a young learner, I used to copy and imitate the symbols written and pronounced by the teacher and remove the alphabets written by myself on dust covered-wooden board with my palms, not a single time, rather time and again, everyday during the year of shisu class.


In my usual class session, after a few minutes of lecture on “Social Justice in Education”, I asked a question to the students related to the content knowledge or information delivered to them. Most of the students remained silent. One of the students hinted to say something. He stood up and tried to answer the question asked to them, facing towards me. I thought my responsibility to listen, validate, verify and/or pass it to the other students to learn, judge, argue or discuss each-other to reach at an acceptable conclusion. I listened to it but I did not validate the response of the student, neither hinted any more. Rather, I decided to receive responses on it from other students of the class and crosscheck each-others’ responses. For this purpose, I had intentionally turned to a student and asked, “Is the response given by the student (your peer) correct or wrong or what would be the answer of the question instead?”. The student stood up and said “I did not hear what he said”. This has sharply shattered the classroom inter-human relationship, interpersonal and inter-subjectivity.

Pedagogically, “part-learning, breaking a list of learning into smaller segments” (Woolfolk, 2011, p.297) had been adapted for effective memorization of the symbols. Gak ! rote memorization !!, no option to every potential academia to set their academic journey!!! Rather it has been a cognitive culture which has firmly contributed to develop a new cognitive system installing formal information processing system and technically mechanizing the cognitive system.

In my general observation, the classroom activities, values, knowledge and teacher-student behavior of higher education are shaped by the disciplinary traditions wired with since the emergence of formal institutions. Faculty of Education, Tribhuvan University has been institutionalizing the knowledge of education since 1957. New comers (students and potential professionals) who enter into the faculty of education are acculturated with the disciplinary knowledge, behavior, value and goal oriented activities. Austin (1990) has stated that values and behavior of faculty are shaped by four cultures i.e. the academic profession, the discipline, the academy and the specific type of institution. Among these cultures, discipline is the most influential. Schiro (2008) opines that education is a process of acculturating students into a discipline which is concerned with students’ acquisition of the discipline’s knowledge, ways of knowing, attitudes towards itself and tradition.

Austin has emphasizingly stated, “The disciplinary culture dominates faculty values and behavior more than in any other institutional types” (Austin, 1990, p.67). Education for him is recognized as a soft-applied discipline (social profession) characterized by distinct knowledge and culture distinguishing from other three disciplines i.e. hard-pure (Natural sciences), soft-pure (humanities and social sciences) and hard-applied (engineering and technology/ science-based professions) (Austin, 1990, Becher, 1994 & Maassen, 1996). “These disciplines are also cultural phenomena: they are embodied in collections of like-minded people, each with their own codes of conduct, sets of values and distinctive intellectual tasks” (Becher, 1981, p.109, as cited in Maassen, 1996). Each of the disciplinary categories has represented unique and distinct nature of knowledge and culture. Becher (1994) states the disciplinary nature of education, an applied social science, are soft-applied, functional, utilitarian ( know how via soft-knowledge), concerned with enhancement of [semi-] professional practice, resulting in protocols/procedures, uncertain status, dominated by intellectual fashions, publication rates reduced by consultancies and power oriented people.

Within the education discipline, a rigorous disciplinary cognitive culture has been so nurtured that which restricted to write even the term “democratic”, associated with Political Science discipline, in my thesis report of Masters Degree in Education. The cultural aspects of disciplines and their cognitive aspects are inseparably intertwined (Becher, 1994).

Cognition is the term derived from the Latin word “cognoscere” which means “to become acquainted with, know” (Davis, 2013). Neisser states, “cognition refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations” (Neisser, 1976, P.4). I agree that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do, and every psychological phenomenon is a cognitive phenomena (Neisser, 1976) . Cognitive psychologists and educational psychologists have not approached to a perfect consensus regarding the concept of cognition. This less consensual state on cognition derived from the two disciplinary positions is diagrammatically presented in the chapter of theoretical consideration, which is based on a wide range of literature review in this thesis.


When I was teaching a topic “Causes of Delinquency”, I gave an example related to cultural practice like Chauthi and again I asked them “Have you heard C hauthi celebrated?” I had received three types of responses, first, “yes sir, I have celebrated, we are familiar with celebration events which are wonderful as well as bitter experience of the celebration”; second, “I have not heard the term Chauthi”, and third voice was heard from aside of the classroom, “there is no concern of Chauthi-Sauthi, since I am not Nepali people”. The third response or expression reflected the classroom situated cognitive complexity which had countered the objective of Social Studies at school level and goal of holistic education which has intended to make a self-identified Nepali citizen.

The term “pedagogy” on the other hand derived from French and Latin adaptations of the Greek “boy” + “leader” literally means having an oversight of a child, or an attendant leading a boy to school (Watkins & Mortimore, 1999). Watkins and Mortimore (1999) have claimed that the then literary meaning of pedagogy is obsolete. Over the terrain of development of the Multi disciplinary approaches and the positions in them, pedagogy has been understood as meaning making process.

Traditionally, pedagogy is conceived as an art and science. It is different perspectival construct to different people; it is a means of liberation to Freire (1970), a reflective practice to Schon (1983), and a way of understanding to Watkins and Mortimore (1999).


(Along with tea refreshment)I had opened an informal talk on improvement of classroom pedagogical practice for the students of B. Ed. Degree first year. She shared the same thing that I had faced in my classroom, “I asked a question/problem to the students related to Foundation of Mathematics, one of the students had answered correctly. Despite the judgment of the response, I asked to other students what he said, and whether the answer is correct or wrong. But, the other students said nothing”.


Most of the students in my class, around the classroom and college premises, I often heard the painful voices, “tell me sir, how to read or learn?, How to pass the subjects X, Y, etc.?”, from those the students who had even attended class sessions. I have generally responded to their voice by sharing the style of learning which I had used by myself in my college life and used in my further learning.

According to Shulman (1987, as cited in Maclellan & Soden, n.d.), a professional, and expert teacher possesses three types of knowledge: content knowledge (knowledge of the subject matter to be taught), pedagogical knowledge (knowledge of how to teach in general terms) and pedagogical content knowledge (knowledge of how to teach that is specific to what is being taught). In addition of these three, pedagogical skill might be regarded as fourth quality of a classroom teacher. Pedagogical content knowledge is regarded as the most important to activate the cognitive process and schemata of classroom students. As stated by Shulman, “it represents the blending of content and pedagogy into understanding of how particular topic, problems, or issues are organized, represented, adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction” (Shulman, 1987, p.8). University classrooms are also the places where Pedagogical approaches of instructors and cognition of the students are lively intersected and interacted. Tribhuvan University, the oldest and the eldest among the universities of Nepal, has been producing pedagogically knowledgeous and skilled human power and instructors; and professors themselves are practicing classroom pedagogy and tending to develop pedagogical approaches since its establishment, in 1959. Berthiume (2009) states that university teaching staff are often left to develop their understanding of teaching and learning on their own. However it is not sufficient. It requires to develop an understanding of the instructional requirements compatible with their discipline. Then this is termed as “discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge” (Berthiaume, 2009, p.215).

Critical reflection is the theoretical perspective, we have realized, for the transformation of knowledge, profession and discipline which has been leading to the horizon of new disciplinary dimension, that is, trans-disciplinary dimension characterized as integrated knowledge rather than fragmented knowledge beyond mono-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary culture. UNESCO (1998) has clearly stated that transdisciplinarity is the process of stimulating synergy and integrating knowledge. It concludes, “transdisciplinarity as self-transformation” (UNESCO, 1998, p.37) towards “path back from chaos”, “antidote to fragmentation of knowledge”, “integrative processes and integrated knowledge” (UNESCO,1998, p.37).Hence, the problem in mono-disciplinary or discipline specification has been leading to emerge a new cognitive culture grounded on the trans-disciplinary paradigm.

My Cultural Contexts: Ethnocentrism to Professionalism

I have been plunged myself into the junctures of varied views of culture in the literary world interpreting and integrating from my reflective and cognitive position leading to non positional position. The meaning of culture never gave me a pleasure to accept it as a bounded and static set of properties either in people’s heads or manifested in their behavior (Baba & Pawlowski, 2001) which tends to ethnocentric, non-conscious, apprenticeship and automation nature of cultural cognitive world. The culture, I have perceived and conceived in my daily life, is the context relative conceptualization and re-conceptualization cognitive-behavioral value systems temporally institutionalized with human agency. Academic professional culture is the meta-cognitive and critical reflective value and behavior system incorporated through “the complex interaction between mind, body and external forces [curriculum, instructors, students, physical setting]” (Baba & Pawlowski, 2001: 7). Therefore, a culture is defined as a shared system of meaning and practice emerging from collective learning and taught to a group’s newcomers as correct way to think and behave (Baba & Pawlowski, 2001).

The university in which, professionally, I am engaged has capitalized academic professional culture that is being accumulated, transmitted and transformed since the establishment of Tri-Chandra College in 1919 and College of Education in 1956, then Tribhuvan University in 1959 (National Education Commission [here after NEC],1992). Academic professional acculturation in my life is a cultural transformation in the context of the classroom teaching-learning which is fabricated with valued curriculum course, educational goal, institutional situation and attributes of students and scholars. In terms of higher education, faculties are the key players. Therefore, as opined by Adams, all roads lead back to the faculty, who have control in matters of teaching, evaluation, and curriculum (Adams, 1992).

The academic profession possesses a set of common values across disciplinary and institutional boundaries, such as “academic freedom, the community of scholars, scrutiny of accepted wisdom, truth seeking, collegial governance, individual autonomy, and service to society through the production of knowledge, transmission of culture and education to young” (Kuh & Whitt, 1986:76, as cited in Clarke, Hyde & Drenann, 2013). Austin (1990) identified four primary cultures to influence faculty values and behaviors i.e. the academic professional culture, the disciplinary culture, the academic culture as an organization within a national system, and the specific type of institutional culture. The cultural foundation of pedagogical praxis in the higher education is the integrated and interrelated translation of these four cultures in classroom teaching-learning. As a novice teacher I had learned many things within the disciplinary community with hierarchical structure of students, teachers and scholars (Schiro, 2008). “The behavior of the novice is rational, relatively inflexible, and tends to conform to whatever rules and procedures they were told to follow” (Berliner, 1988, p. 2) which were very similar to my novice instructional activities and behavior with the students and gave hints to change by a senior professor, my formal classroom teacher, telling me not to be rigid. I have learned and been learning across the disciplinary community which has a tradition and a history; a heritage of literature and artifacts; a specialized language, grammar, and logic for expression of ideas; a communication network; a valuational and affective stance; and territorial possession of a particular set of concepts, beliefs, and knowledge (Schiro,2008).

My Unpacking Identities: Ethnic Identity to Academic Professional Identity

My belief of personal identity is fluid and multiple. Bank highlights the consensus of the scholars on the matter of identity that, “identity is multiple, changing, overlapping, and contextual, rather than fixed and static” (Banks, 2008, p.133). When I am engaged in the classroom with the responsibility of instruction, I have been explicitly identifying my-self with the identity of an academic professional accommodating the culture set by the faculty members capitalizing the shared values, behaviors, knowledge and perspectives, despite of my ethnic culture and identity. Professional or academic professional identity is the explicit and active identity which dominates or discards the ethnic, religious, political and sexual bias identities, which are setback to as implicit or inert identity at the same time. Hence, my understanding about identity is not stable and single. Rather it is dynamic, claimed and subject to change (Gonzalez-smith, Swanson and Tanaka, n. d.[no date]). Professional identity is not stable entity; it is complex, idiosyncratic, and shaped by contextual factors. Changes in higher education have added a further complexity to identity formation within higher education (Clarke, Hyde & Drenann, 2013). This is very true in my case as well. I am a person of fluid identity in ethnicity and professionalism.

Rationale and Significance of the Study

This study extracts the researcher’s self-reflection and reflections of professional educators regarding their own pedagogical practice in terms of responding classroom students’ cognition of the university. Developing an understanding of teaching and learning on their own way is not sufficient to become an effective teacher in higher education. Rather, one must also develop understanding of the teaching and learning requirements of one’s own discipline (Berthiaume, 2009). I had been academically nurtured by the university in student life and have been professionally cultured by the community of scholars and experts of the university since the last ten year. I believe that interactive and dynamic classrooms of this university are rich sources of new pedagogical facts, information and knowledge naturally, implicitly, and non-consciously occurring, that is yet to be explored, codified, and formalized.

Purpose of the Research

The cognitive theories have been proposed to understand the classroom cognitions possessed by the students. The theories such as Perry’s forms of intellectual and ethical development in college students, Coley’s facets of college readiness, Sternberg and Zhang’s thinking, learning and cognitive styles reveal complexity of classroom cognition which is not linear, uni-variable system and static. The classroom is multidimensional context lively interplayed by the psychosocial state of student, teacher and curriculum. Therefore, this research has intended to explore the pedagogical approach to address the realities of classroom situated cognitive complexity by activating students’ cognition in the higher education classroom.

Research Questions

My research questions have been derived from the classroom instruction problems embedded in the cognitive structure and conceptual transformation of the campus students. The events related to the higher education classroom made me curious to understand and explore the pedagogical realities to address the classroom cognition. The questions emerged from the curiosity caused by the everyday classroom events led me to engage to explore realities related to human endeavors from the classroom context. These questions became my tentative research questions to initiate a journey ahead.

Research Question A: Why are the cognitions of every student not activated in the classroom?

Research Question B: Have the present pedagogical practices activated every student’s cognition in the classroom?

Research Question C: Are the students in the classroom of higher education individually different in terms of cognition?

Research Question D: Are there content specific cognitive diversities in the students of classroom?

Research Question E: What are the current pedagogical practices in classrooms of higher education?

Research Question F: What cognitive styles do the students possess in a classroom of higher education?

Research Question G: How do the pedagogical practices of teachers/instructors respond the cognitive processes of the students?

Research Question H: What is the pedagogical design/model to address the cognitive complexity/diversity of a classroom of higher education/teacher education?

CHAPTER II Philosophical Grounding

This chapter of thesis proposal has dealt with philosophical perspectives that are believed in by researcher to make the knowledge, would be generated and philosophically valid. It has confined the philosophical position of researcher, multiple paradigms, paradigmatic integration and role of researcher in the field.

My Non-positional Position as Researcher

This research is not client oriented research. This is a pure academic explorative research connected with pedagogical professional life. The research intends to explore, generate or develop pedagogical knowledge to solve the practical and theoretical problems as an aspect of advancement of pedagogy of the higher education. I have clearly mentioned my research positions concerning the research paradigm, research role, ontology, epistemology, axiology and methodology. I have not favored any single purist research paradigm, design and methodology. Rather, I have used multiple worldviews.

Multi Paradigmatic Position

Paradigm term was first introduced by Thomas Kuhn in 1972 in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolution” (as cited in Mack, 2010). Guba and Lincoln (1994) believe paradigms as basic belief systems based on ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions. Denzin and Lincoln (1998) delineate, “a paradigm encompasses three elements: epistemology, ontology and methodology” (p. 185).They have claimed an array of competing paradigms in the field of social research. They are positivism, post-positivism, critical theory, constructivism and participatory paradigm or co-constructivism. Tashakkori and Teddlie’s (1998) categories of paradigms encompass positivism, post-positivism, pragmatism and constructivism. Some other scholars have broadly categorized into two paradigmatic approaches i. e. positivism and non-positivism (Alyu, Bella, Kasim & Martin, 2014). Hence, there is no perfect consensus among the scholars in terms of research paradigms. In my research, I have attempted to interconnect the established paradigms in the process of validating the classroom occurrences to make a compatible and consensual meaning from the world view systems. I believe that the emerging paradigmatic confluence (Guba & Lincoln, 2005) works eclectically without exclusion of the paradigms. Positivism cannot capture and excludes unintended issues of socio-psychologically complex and dynamic classroom cognitive settings. I hold the belief that single paradigm is not sufficient and practical in the meaning making process of contextual events. I mean phenomenon itself is neither single nor multiple or neither subjective nor objective indeed. It is human conceptualization and re-conceptualization.

Hence, paradigms are understood as human constructions (Guba & Lincoln, 1998). Therefore, laboratory and field research [paradigms] may be viewed as complementary rather than conflicting strategies (Flanagan & Dipboye, 1979, p.149), Gioia and Pitre (1990) have claimed, “multi-paradigm approaches offer the possibility of creating fresh insights because they start from different ontological and epistemological assumption and, therefore, tap different facets and can produce markedly different and uniquely informative theoretical views of events under study”(p.591). Therefore, multi-paradigmatic approach accommodates developing commensurability among the paradigms like positivism, post-positivism, critical theory (feminist, race), constructivism (interpretivist), and participatory paradigm (+postmodern) (Lincoln, Lynham & Guba, 2011). The research scholars’ categories of the paradigms are not in a perfect consensus. But they are found in consensus regarding the dimensions encompassed by the worldview or paradigm. The Table1has presented the paradigms and dimensions.

Table 1 Major Research Paradigms and Dimensions

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Tashkkori & Teddlie (1998); Guba & Lincoln (2005)

In my thesis research, I have kept intention to avoid the “purist” or single and “either/or” paradigmatic approach. Rather, pragmatic world view has been employed which emerges out of the actions, situations and consequences (Creswell, 2014). Pragmatism is not a single world view in my understanding. Rather it is based on eclecticism revealing an eclectic mosaic worldview. Creswell (2014) claims, “pragmatism opens the door to multiple methods, different world views, and different assumptions, as well as different forms of data collection and analysis” (p.11). But I believe in “the local cosmologies unfold realities and speak of interrelationships between life and spirituality; Guru s and pupils; castes and cultures; men and women; and faith systems and human capabilities” (Awasthi, 2004, p. 85). Reality for me is a human construction or cognition, and multiplicity or singular in nature. I also believe that knowledge is co-cognitive or co-constructive process which is subjective, objectified, preferential and fluid in nature. And hence, methodology adopted in the research is multiplicity in nature.

Paradigmatic Integration

My thesis work is a confluence of all the worldviews existed in the literature of scholars. I hold the belief that a single paradigm cannot represent the human realities, knowledge process and value systems that are practiced in the everyday life as meaning making process or testing and retesting the established world views and assumptions. One cannot perfectly give up the legacies founded by the scholars in the past. Rather their worldviews are the impetus to the latter scholars to develop the new world views. Therefore, I do not believe a world view as a superior or inferior in terms of the reality, knowledge and value. Rather, reality, knowledge and value are collective as well as diverse orientation and practice which are translated into pragmatism, eclecticism and integration to be institutionalized in the daily life of the people and social institution. Ultimately philosophical constructs have been survived reeling around the axis of humanity under the umbrella of humanism. Below is the chart of my philosophical construct of this study

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1 . Integration of Research Paradigms

My Role Position as Researcher in the Field

In this research, being a qualitative researcher, I have played role of researcher-as- bricoleur (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998), derived from French term, who uses any kind of methods to collect information, “performs a large number of diverse tasks, ranging from interviewing to observing, interpreting personal and historical document, to intensive self reflection and introspection” (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998, p.4) and “works between and within competing and overlapping perspectives and paradigms” (Denzin &Lincoln, 1998, p. 4). I have possessed the position of insider-outsider educational researcher. I have been working since last one decade as a teacher educator and a member in the informal professional learning community, belonging to Tribhuvan University. This research has been being conducted by myself within my social group, organization or culture of which the researcher is also a member (Greene, 2014).

My stance is that the realities, facts or evidences occurring within the organization and classroom are very well acknowledged in the natural state by an insider researcher rather than a strange researcher. At this point, I am aware that Chavez (2008) has claimed that insider researchers are able to understand the cognitive, emotional, and/ or psychological precepts of participants as well as possess a more profound knowledge of the historical and practical happenings of the field (as cited in Greene, 2014). Everyday professional activities and experiences for the author are the part and parcel of the organizational culture. My research is not a value-free research as a whole. It carries on values of the research participants. During the research, I have been recognized in multiple roles i. e. researcher as an instrument, instructor as researcher, researcher as participant, subject and object, insider led outsider and participant as observer. I work with the subjects rather than on the subjects. I have moved to and fro from subjective to objective, insider to outsider, context to text, theory to practice and vice-versa.

CHAPTER III Theoretical Considerations

In the thesis research, I have used multiple theoretical perspectives and interdisciplinary theoretical lenses to explore, understand, validate and incorporate the evidences, practices, voices, expressions, reflections and experiences extracted cognitive complexities of the college classroom situation.

Way of Literature Review

Literature review that I have done is value laden. I have used my value perspective in literature reviewing to pick up and establish in my thesis, those one among the varied theoretical perspectives and understanding on a one/same issue. I entered to the literature review in and around my research title and its representative key conceptual terminologies which had stimulated to Google /virtual library search, my personal book library and my inherent content/discipline area schema and thought system. On this ground, I was engaged not just to pick up all the literature such as articles, books, artifacts, rather what I had been doing was reviewing and drawing the theories, perspectives and key conceptual terms which I approached to them, that were thought as most relevant, critical, updated and satisfactory from my schematic level and thought system. The worldview system and epistemology that I have believed in has narrowed down and delimited the literature review. Theoretical and empirical literature reviews are the traditions from which my work has not been deviated. But multiple theoretical stance and multidisciplinary perspectives have been encompassed in this review is a noble practice which has been attempted to adopt herein.

In the succeeding paragraphs, I have discussed different theories. Out of the discussed theories, I have generated cognitive multiplicities that can be applied for the classroom.

Cognition from Psychological Perspectives

There are psychological theories which deal with the human traits, behavior and mental process from diverse perspectives. Bio-psychological state of the human being is too abstract to understand the reality. The psychologists have attempted to interpret the nature of cognitive activities of human being by using plain statements, metaphors and analogies as the formulation of psychological theories.

Theories of Behavioral Psychology

The behavioral psychological theories are also known as theories of stimulus and response. Response is the behavior of any animal or human that is easily observed and measured. “Behaviorism” is the term first introduced by Watson (Prichard, 2009), father of behaviorism in the area of psychology. “Behaviorists agreed that most of learning is guided by these relatively simple laws, and that cognitive processes played a minor role, if any role at all”(van Merriënboer & de Bruin, 2014, p.24), but they could not have ignored the role of cognition and mental process in producing behavioral responses.

There is relationship between cognition and behavior to be considered. The behavioral theories have not only focused to the observable and animal instincts, like criticized by the cognitivists, of the psychological studies. Skinner himself claims that “the concepts of drive, emotion, conditioning, reflex strengths, reserve and so on, have the same status as will and cognition but they differ in the rigor of the analysis with which they are derived and in the immediacy of their reference to actual observation” (Skinner,1938, p. 441). Mental association process has been used by Thorndike to interpret cognition of human being. According to him, the associative process has arisen the human consciousness with their art, science and religion (Thorndike, 1898, 1998). Behaviorism is constituted with the punishment, reward, practice, reinforcement, generalization and discrimination key concepts.

Theories of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive theory deals with knowing and thinking. Singh states, “It studies the structures and components for processing information” (Singh, 2015, p. 46) of brain. From the perspective of cognitive theory, cognition is the mental process which involves information receiving, analyzing, organizing, storing, valuing, withdrawing and retrieving meaningfully. Cognition is defined as the set of processes enabling information processing and knowledge development OECD, 2007). Cognition is the organization of knowledge in mind. Corr (2010) has used very broad perspective to define, “cognition entails many processes: sensory registration, perception, appraisal, decision making, memory, learning, concept formation, perceptual organizations, language, and many more”(Corr, 2010, p. 4). Cognition involves even in the process of self-monitoring, self-directing and self-regulating mental activities. Hence, learning cannot represent the cognition as a whole, it is an aspect of cognition. Learning represents only overt, explicit and fragmented behavior of person which is controlled and directed by both external stimuli and cognition.

Schema theory. Every individual has potential or clearly developed and specifically organized body of information which is termed as schema. Schema theory was developed and established by distinguished educational psychologist Richard C. Anderson in 1977, borrowing the term and basic concept of schema from Piaget coined in 1926. The schematic concept of Piaget was content and context-free. Schema is an individual’s collection of prior knowledge that provides a context for meaningful interpretation of new information (Anderson, 1984,as cited in Wiseman, 2008).

Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget was the first person who used the term schema to understand the cognitive state (Santrock, 2011). According to this theory, an infant posses physical schema, and mental schema (cognitive schema) appears from childhood. His theory of cognitive process encompasses the assimilation, accommodation, organization and equilibrium functions of brain which transform and shape the cognitive schema of person at different levels of cognitive development (Santrock, 2011). Formal operational stage is the apex level of his theoretical perspective on cognitive development process which starts at the age of 11 to 15 years. At this stage individual move beyond reasoning only about concrete experiences and think in are abstract, idealistic and logical ways. Santrock (2009) claims that by the time we have reached adulthood, we have constructed an enormous number of diverse schemas, ranging from the most concrete to the most abstract phenomena. The process, when existing schemas change on the basis of new information is known as accommodation (Stangor, 2012) where as assimilation is a process in which our existing knowledge influences new conflicting information to better fit with our existing knowledge (Strangor, 2012). Anderson adopted the Piaget’s term assimilation for schema usage and accommodation for schema change (Davis, 2013).

There is sufficient potentiality to develop various schemas in the mental process of an individual. Individual interacts with various situations and contextual stimuli which prepare the foundations of multiple schemas in the mind. Schemata/schemas are embedded one within another at different levels of abstraction, at the same time, webbed relationships among them (rather than hierarchies); thus each one is connected with many others (Davis, 2013).

According to this theory, schemata change moment to moment as information is received. Similarly, individuals build up different schemas from same context, information and stimulus. Hence, two individuals can have two different schemas for the same information (Wiseman, 2008). An (2013) has categorized the schemata into four categories. They are: formal schemata (related to the rhetorical structure of text); content schemata (related to content of the text read); cultural schemata (related to more general aspect of cultural knowledge shared by larger section of a cultural population); and linguistic schemata (Urquhart & Weir, 1998, as cited in An, 2013). Changing the existing schemata and establishing new schemata are the regular process occurring in the human mind. The schema is understood as based on general world view knowledge and experiences, incomplete and constantly evolving, personal, uncertainty, and guidance of understanding of new information (Prichard, 2009). The classroom instruction in higher education is concerned more with the disciplined content schemata. In terms of pedagogical implication, the schemata theory invites the learners’ with their background knowledge to eliminate the passive textual learning and instructors’ imposition or dictation of meaning (Porkaew, 2006).

Content schemata. Schema theory is the explanation of a numerous schemata possible existed in the mind of students which “furnishes powerful rationales for making links between students’ individual backgrounds and specific content knowledge” (Marzano et al., 1988, p. 117) in the field of education. The schemata of every student in a classroom are tried to be activated, shaped and specified by a formal curriculum. But, an absolute or a uniform impact on the schemata of the students made by formal classroom curriculum is questionable due to the different schemata drawn from cultural background and individual experiences of the students (Marzano et al., 1988) Hence, existing knowledge of a text topic in the mind of students is known as content schemata (Williams,1987). The state of existing schemata plays very significant role in understanding to a new content. Without an appropriate schema, trying to understand a story, text book, or classroom lesson is very slow and difficult process (Woolfolk, 2011).

Meta-cognitive theory . Meta-cognition is the concept which represents the higher thinking system to cognition, involves conscious processing. It reveals the cognitive awareness of an individual of his or her own cognition. Hence meta-cognition literally means cognition about cognition-or knowledge about knowing and learning (Woolfolk, 2011). The meta-cognitive abilities begin to develop around ages of 5 to 7 years and improve throughout school years (Flavell, Green, & Flavell, 1995; Garner, 1990, as cited in Woolfolk, 2011). Information processing of the students is selected, controlled and directed by the meta-cognition of the brain. Meta-cognitive knowledge is knowledge about cognitive process which an individual has come to understand can be used to control mental process (Prichard, 2009). Hence, I understand the meta-cognitive knowledge, awareness or consciousness is very individual matter that varies from person to person. “Meta-cognitive activity occurs when students consciously adapt and manage their thinking strategies during problem solving and purposeful thinking” (Santrock, 2009, p.299) that is based on the meta-cognitive knowledge of the students.

Cognitive style theory . Cognitive style is an area of psychology which investigates the preferred style of thinking and problem solving an individual may have (Prichard, 2009). There is no any concept on cognitive style in the history of it. The understanding of cognitive psychologists in cognitive style has been found being scattered ranging from a stable attitude and habitual strategies to dynamic-cognitive process, similarly, from perceptual to meta-cognitive. As defined by Messick (1976, as cited in Kozhevnikov, 2007), cognitive styles are stable attitudes, preferences, or habitual strategies that determine individuals’ modes of perceiving, remembering, thinking, and problem solving. I am convinced with the characteristics of styles, such as styles as preferences, not good or bad, variation across tasks and situation, stylistic flexibility, modifiable, social process etc. proposed by Stenberg (1997, as cited in Stenberg & Zhang, 2005). Sternberg and Zhang (2005) used the thinking styles, instead of the term “cognitive styles”, popularized in the literature of cognitive psychology. They have clearly presented the multiplicity in cognitive styles and stated, “When we speak of individual differences in thinking styles, we are speaking only of differences, not of better and worse” (Sternberg & Zhang, 2005, p. 245). The cognitive styles, i.e. analytic and intuitive/holistic, experience and rational or field dependent and field independent etc., whatever having been presented, cannot be dealt with separately from cognitive process and information processing. An integrated framework of cognitive style, proposed by Kozhevnikov (2007) has mentioned, “recent studies on cognitive styles have revealed a close connection between cognitive style and other cognitive processes (e.g. memory, attention, meta-cognition) and even provided some insights about the neural mechanisms underlying particular cognitive style” (p.477). And, the cognitive styles further influence to organizing and processing information (Yuan & Liu, 2014). Kufiss finds three factors like “natural inclination toward a particular thinking style(right brain or left brain), modeling(through such machanisms as trial and error and positive reinforcement) and formal education process” (Kufiss, 1988, p. XV) responsible to the development of thinking styles in the students of higher education.

Working memory theory. Information processing theory is based on computer metaphor used to understand mental function. It consists of input, process and output. The theory presents three types of information storage systems i. e. sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory. Theorists have revised the theory and updated the memory concept by expanding a concept of working memory (Baddeley, 1992) which has been a dominant memory theory today. The reserved, isolated, discrete and fragmented information, facts and knowledge are integrated and made functional by working memory for a certain purpose. Baddeley (1992) states that working memory makes individual difference in cognition. It is directly related to educational performance of the students (Holmes, 2012).

Sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory are recognized as the storages of information received from the external world. Working memory is the functional memory which is responsible to process and activate the information stored in short term and long term memories. Its main function is to direct the organs to respond and produce finished knowledge. It is operationally associated with cognitive and meta-cognitive process. Bostrom and Sandberg (2006) mention that cognition is the process which includes acquiring information (perception), selecting(attention), representing(understanding), and retaining(memory) information, and using it to guide behavior(reasoning and coordination of motor output). The working memory has been understood as wide and distinct executive position in the memory and cognitive process that which has made difficult to accept it within short-term memory. Hence, from the literature review, it is understood that the working memory is neither to replace short term memory nor to insert into it. Rather it is a conscious functional and coordinating memory system which belongs to cognition and meta-cognition systems, and it is responsible to produce new knowledge and behaviors adequate to the external world. The Figure 2 shows the integration of the meta-cognition, cognition and memory systems.

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Figure 2 . Relationship of Meta-cognition, Cognition, Working Memory and Storages of Memory

Cognition from Social Psychological Theories

Cognition is an abstract mental phenomenon. What is cognition?, how does cognition appear?, how does it function ? are some genuine questions to be encountered by psychological research scholars. At the end of twentieth century, the cognitive discourse has entered to the socio-psychological area of the study. Social psychology is a newly emerged branch of psychology, of which, social cognition is the core domain to be dealt with. The new field has changed the understanding of cognition from isolated individual cognition to group cognition. It has thrust to transform the classroom pedagogy.

Classroom learning community approach. College/campus classrooms are formed with certain learning objectives where students and faculty are considered as active social factors. Both of them are the human actors embodied with implicit and explicit cognition. Hence, the classroom may be only the place where students and faculty meet and where education in the formal sense is experienced (Tinto, 1997). Academic and social involvement or integration must occur in the classroom. Learning community is that there is a culture of learning, in which everyone is involved in collective effort of understanding. In the learning communities approach, members of community share their individual efforts towards a deeper understanding of the subject matter understudy. Students learn to synthesize multiple perspectives, to solve problems in a variety of ways, and to use each other’s diverse knowledge and skills as resources to collaboratively solve problems and advance their understanding. Tinto states, “Classrooms serve as smaller academic and social meeting places or crossroads that intersect the diverse faculty and student communities” (Tinto, 1997, p. 616).

Social cognitive theory . The main architect of social cognitive theory is Albert Bandura (1986, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2009, as cited in Santrock, 2011). His theory consists of three factors: behavior (individual actions, choices, verbal statements etc.), person/cognition (beliefs, expectations, attitudes, and knowledge etc.) and environment (physical and social i.e. physical settings, resources, other people etc.) which forms mutual interactive or reciprocal determinism model of learning. Bandura (1989) believes in triadic reciprocal determinism rather than one-sided determinism or unidirectional causation. Bandura’s suggestion “we all may know more than we show” (Woolfolk, 2011, p.349) makes this cognitive theory distinguishing from traditional behaviorism. His theory consists of two ways of learning; enactive learning which is learning by doing and experiencing consequences of actions, and vicarious learning which means learning by observing others for instance, cognitive apprenticeships. Bandura (1986) has found the individual difference caused by social practices. According to him, “diversity in social practices produces substantial individual differences in the capabilities that are cultivated and those that remain underdeveloped”(Bandura, 1989, p. 2).

Social constructivism. Even though constructivism is considered to be a branch of cognitivism, it distinguishes itself from traditional cognitive theories in a number many ways (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). Some scholars tend to be recognized as constructivists who believe in the abstract mental activities as constructs. Vygotsky is the first person who developed social cognitive constructivist theory to understand the human cognition. Socio-cultural interaction is the basis of cognition of human being. Vygotsky believed that social interaction with others spurred the construction of new ideas and enhanced the learner’s intellectual development (Arends, 2013). The zone between the learner’s actual level of development and the level of potential development was labeled by him as the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Situated cognition theory. The cognitive foundation of this theory is embedded into the socio-cultural setting. The theory believes that the social members i.e. students and teachers’ cognition have been occupied by the socially valued and institutionalized knowledge and information. The epistemic cognitive theorists have found the ways of knowing determined by personal epistemology that are situated in the college classroom context (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997). Situative perspective, in cognitive science, is an emerging perspective to cognition. It has contributed to cognitive perspective to ground onto the interactive, coupling and integrating process of the cognitive stances. Situative perspective shifts the focus of analysis from individual behavior and cognition to large systems that include behaving cognitive agents interacting with each other and with other subsystems in the environment (Greeno, 1998). The theory presents that cognition cannot be isolated from a context. Thus, the cognition is situated implies that it is a context-dependent process (Brinck, 2007).

Integration of Psychological Theories around Cognition

The psychological theories, in dealing with the cognitive issues, are found presenting a clear orientation of synthesizing and integrating conceptual constructs. Not only the elements of cognitive theories of psychologists, but also behavioral theories, can be found eclectically integrated. Qiao and others write, “To be a thinker, one first needs to be a memorizer. Although it may not follow that a good thinker should be good memorizer, a good thinker most likely needs to draw on a wide and deep reservoir of memorized knowledge”(Qiao et al., 2014, p. 2). Prichard (2009) has presented a concept of schemas, as units of knowledge, understanding and skill, and conceptual knowledge which is stored in long term memory, has integrated elements representing various theories. Although the different theoretical positions are often presented separately, we have to look for connections, similarities, overlaps, and ways to synthesize theories to offer new insights on learning and cognition (Surgenor, 2010). The cognitive psychological theories are found being confluence into the consensus that every student has different ways of cognitive process and cognitive schemata. In the classroom instruction, there is a composition of students possessing different cognitions. The diverse cognitive styles, cognitive process and schemata create intra-group cognitive complexity in the classroom.

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Continuum of cognitive learning theories . Learning theories from a psychological perspective have been started to develop in the early decade of the 20th century. At the beginning, the behaviorist psychologists like I. P. Pavlov, E. L. Thorndike, B. F. Skinner, J. B. Watson etc. have given very few spaces to the mental or cognitive role in the behavioral change or learning in their theoretical perspective. The impression of stimuli in the mind of animal could not have been ignored. Therefore, the behavioral theorists have coined and used the terms like in” of response, “extinction of behavior”, “spontaneous recovery of behavior, “role of reinforcement” etc. which are the responses caused by a kind of cognition. Hence the behavioral learning theories have sufficiently established the foundation of the development for successive cognitive psychological theories.

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Figure 3 . Continuum of the Cognitive Learning Theories

In the conclusion, theoretically, I have approached that the learning theories are not completely discrete and fragmented rather they are arranged in a continuum from the perspective of collectivity and degree of mental involvement. They are the types of cognitive learning theories which have could not ignore the cognitive role in learning.

Cognitive process, cognitive style and learning style. Cognition, cognitive style and learning style are the central theoretical issues in the literature of educational psychology, cognitive psychology and classroom psychology. Kozhevnikov (2007) draws conclusion from different applied cognitive research studies that the cognitive styles are not simply inborn structures, depend only individual’s internal characteristics, but, rather, they are interactive constructs that develop in response to social, educational, professional and other environmental requirements. I have agreed the argument that learning environment affects the formation of cognitive styles where educator’s pedagogical approach determines and is determined significantly. Cognitive style and cognitive process are closely interconnected. They cannot be dealt with as separated phenomena from one another. Kozhevnikov explores the relation between cognitive process and cognitive styles and states, “Recent studies on cognitive styles have revealed a close connection between cognitive style and other cognitive processes (e.g. memory, attention, meta-cognition)” (Kozhevnikov, 2007, p. 477). The constructs of cognitive style and learning style have been found interchangeably being used by the scholars implicitly in the field of educational psychology. The conceptual roots of the both of them are found in psychology.

Styles/Types of cognitive learning based on cognitive processes . The different cognitive psychological theories emphasize on the different ways of cognitive process of learning. The students might be exposed to different classroom learning opportunities based on the different cognitive psychological theories. As the reflection gained from the literature review and my classroom practice, my theoretical argument is that the classroom practices of memorization, information processing, cognitive construction etc. lead to the students’ way of cognitive process towards certain style of cognitive learning. The styles or types of cognitive learning based on cognitive theoretical perspectives are depicted in the Figure 4.

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Figure 4. Types of Cognitive Learning Based on Cognitive Theories

Cognitive complexity . Complexity is the concept which represents a dynamic phenomenon constituted multi-dimensions, multi-levels, multi-facets, multi-variables and multi-aspects. The key terms of reference for complexity theory are: self-organization, complex adaptive system, non-linear relationship, emergence, unpredictability, diversity, differentiation, networks, connectivity, distributed knowledge, autocatalysis, holism, and co-evolution (Morrison, 2006). Complexity is closely linked to diversity. Classroom is diverse context in terms of group cognitive process of the students of whose mental cognition is founded on the exposed curriculum and hidden curriculum (socio-eco-political and cultural contexts and events) building up the explicit and implicit cognition.

Hence, the classroom cognitive complexity cannot be separated from cognitive diversity of the students. Cilliers (n.d.) states that diversity is a necessary condition for complexity. Nonetheless, such diversity does not lead to a fragmented identity, but to an identifiable and richly textured one.

Cognition as basis of learning . The term ‘cognition’ and ‘learning’ are two key conceptual terms in the academic disciplines. The former concept is originally associated with the discipline of Psychology and the latter is with Education. In the literature, some have used the terms interchangeably, whereas, others have differentiated. I do conceive them as different but as deeply interrelated conceptions and practices. The theories of learning and cognition reveal that cognition of a person strongly influences the effectiveness of his/her learning. Cognitive schemas influence our subsequent learning (Stangor, 2012). At the conclusion of theoretical review, cognition is so vast, vague, abstract and complex processing occurred in the human brain receiving and perceiving the raw information or data from the world with which one regularly interacts, which has been leading to the development of subsequent transitional conceptual transformation. On the other hand, learning is more technical term referring to the overt and technically and quantitatively changed behavior of a person which is based on minimally or optimally cognitive processing of individuals.

Hence, the cognitive theories emphasize on making knowledge meaningful and helping learners organize and relate new information to existing knowledge in memory (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). Singh (2015) has argued that learning should be an assimilation of knowledge into the existing cognitive structure to form an integrated whole of new learning.

Cognition from Epistemological Perspective

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy which deals with nature, process and source of knowledge. Psychologists and educationists, in the recent time, are interested about the person’s epistemological development. How does a person know? What is his/her way of knowing? What is his/her belief system in knowledge or attitude towards knowledge? etc. are the some basic questions to be answered by the theorist and researchers of personal epistemological wave. Hofer and Pintrich (1997) have stated that Piaget’s term genetic epistemology was the first effort to describe the intellectual development intersecting disciplines of philosophy and psychology.

Hence, personal epistemological development has become a discourse in the sphere of scholars of cognitive psychology. Personal epistemological belief is the concern of one’s philosophy of life. The theorists like William Perry, Baxter Magolda, M. F. Belenky, B.M. Clinchy, N. R. Goldberger and J. M. Tarule, P. M. King and K. S. Kitchner and D. Kuhn are prominent ones to advocate the personal epistemological development. Their research population contained college students. Personal epistemology refers to beliefs about knowing and knowledge at the individual level. Berthiume draws three aspects of personal epistemology from research work that, namely an individual’s beliefs about knowledge and knowing (how one views what constitutes knowledge and the various actions associated with being able to know), his or her beliefs about knowledge construction ( how one views the development or accumulation of knowledge), and his or her beliefs about the evaluation of knowledge (how one attributes more value to certain forms of knowledge than others) (Berthiume, 2009).

According to the epistemological theory, personal epistemological beliefs influence the cognitive process and schemata formation in the mind of a person.

Perry’s theory. Perry (1970) is recognized as an educational psychologist and student counselor, worked at Harvard University. He had studied the college students’ intellectual and ethical development and has developed a scheme of cognitive positions of college students. His scheme has avoided the connotation of sequential stages (Pugh, 2005). According to the theory, “students begin college with a dualistic perspective and may, depending on their instruction, advance through the stages of multiplicity, relativism and commitment” (Nilson, 2010, p.8). These four major categories of the cognitive positions associate further nine subordinate positions.

The dualism consists of basic duality which is multiplicity pre-legitimate. In the basic duality position, a person sees the world dualistically, right vs. wrong. There are no alternatives. Authorities know all the answers. The teacher as an authority is supposed to teach the correct answer to the students, failure to do so means that the teacher is a bad teacher (Wankat & Oreovicz, 2015). In the dualistic multiplicity pre-legitimate position, the students perceive that multiplicity exists but still has the basic dualistic view of the world. There is a right and a wrong which is regarded as authority playing games. Different authorities have different ways to understand an event. Students get only what is right and ignore what is wrong (Labbas, 2013).

The multiplicity is the position of students’ cognitive development that makes the students capable to understand multiple eyes on a worldly event. This position consists of further two positional subordinates i.e. multiplicity subordinate or early multiplicity and advanced multiplicity (Wankat & Oreovicz, 2015). The early multiplicity cognitive position of intellectuality functions through three: right, wrong and ‘not yet known’. Students start to legitimate both diversity and uncertainty, but students focus more on how to find the right answer. Another multiplicity is an advanced multiplicity which imports one’s own thinking. Self processing and a sense of idea of ownership increase in this position.

After the multiplicity position, cognitive position of the students enters to the relativism. Relativism orients the students to perceive all knowledge and values as contextual and relativistic (Labbas, 2013). Movement to this position involves adopting a way of understanding , analyzing, and evaluating that requires a radical re-perception of all knowledge and values as contextual and relativistic(Love & Guthrie, 1999, p.12). This position encourages students’ development and practice of meta-cognition to think about and examine one’s own thinking.

Commitment is the last cognitive position to be possessed by college students, according to the Perry’s theory (Perry,1970, as cited in Love & Guthrie, 2013). It extends into four types, i.e. commitment foreseen, initial commitment, orientation in implications in commitment and developing commitments. In the cognitive position of commitment foreseen, students see that commitments will need to be made in order to establish their bearings in a relativistic world. Other three positions are regarded as evolving commitments.

Epistemological reflection model. Educational psychologist, Baxter Magolda, a theorist of personal epistemology has developed a theory of epistemological reflection which has encompassed four ways of knowing of individuals (Rossum & Hamer, 2010). The theoretical perspective is based on a 5-year research work conducted on college students. The four categories of ways of knowing are absolute knowing, transitional knowing, independent knowing and contextual knowing, as such pre-adult and adult knowers are categorized as absolute knowers, transitional knowers, independent knowers and contextual knowers (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997), whose ways of knowing are qualitatively different.

Absolute knowing is the way of knowing of the persons which is expected to be, and believed in an absolute, a certain, either right or wrong positioned nature of knowledge labeled with mastery pattern and receiving pattern (Felder & Brent, 2004). Absolute knowers view knowledge as certain and authorities have all the answers (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997) and knower as passive listeners and receivers.

Transitional knowing is another way of knowing adopted implicitly and explicitly by people that is proposed by Baxter Magolda. The transitional knowers believe that some knowledge is certain and some is not (Felder & Bent, 2004). The certainties are communicated by authorities and procedures are prescribed to the students. The transitional knowers discover that authorities are not all-knowing and begin to accept the uncertainty of knowledge (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997).

Independent knowing is the way of knowing and belief in epistemology adopted by independent knowers. They believe that most of the knowledge is uncertain. The knowers/students are responsible for their own knowledge acquisition rather than relying heavily on authorities or personal feelings (Felder & Bent, 2004). “Those who are independent knowers question authority as only source of knowledge and begin to hold their own opinions as equally valid” (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997, p.98) implicitly indicating subjective and multiplicity of knowledge.

Contextual knowing of personal epistemology demands the grounded and context relative meaning making way of knowing. Felder and Bent state, “The contextual knowers reject once and for all the notion that absolute truth exists. They experience themselves as constructors of their own knowledge”(Felder & Bent, 2004, p. 9).

Cognition from Educational Perspective

Tyler (1949) proposed a rationale approach to curriculum development and instruction where objective, to be attained through learning, is the end of a classroom instruction. He began new era in the field of education introducing objective based curriculum development, content selection, instruction and evaluation. Since the then and even today, educationists have devoted their time to make the objective based concept more effective, clear, practicable and justifiable. Hilda Taba, Benjamin Bloom, David R. Krathwohl, L. W. Anderson, Robert J. Marzano and John S. Kendall are the some prominent exponents of objective oriented learning approach. These scholars are known as theorists of taxonomy of educational objectives. They believe that learning in the classroom is intended, objective, specific and observable.

Bloom’s cognitive domain . Benjamin Bloom and his team members became the first theorists who have given the theoretical and practical bases or framework to classify the knowledge, learning;, behavioral change or expected learning of the students in a formal educational setting. Considered to be a boon to the field of education for direction and calculation of the educational activities, the taxonomy of educational objectives is firmly rooted into the ground of theoretical perspective R. W. Tyler’s objective-oriented curriculum development, instruction and evaluation approach. Therefore, Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill & Krathwohl (1956) has declared, “it is intended to provide for classification of the goals of our educational system. It is expected to be a general help to all teachers, administrators, professionals, specialists, and research workers who deal with curricular and evaluation problems”( p. 1).

Possible learning or behavior of students in a unit or content has been organized in hierarchical manner considering the principles of education, logic and psychology (Bloom et al., 1956). But educational principles are the primary concern of the taxonomy talked with a high sound. Education is that constructed phenomenon which is organized consciously and intentionally intending to institutionalize and change the knowledge, value and perspective.

I have understood that education is believed as a systematically organized and valued knowledge intact the contemporary society and it is to be internalized by students to develop an expected behavior and value system. A technically and vertically patternized cognitive behavioral change encompasses six levels of learning i.e. knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Bloom et al. (1956) conceptualized the cognitive phenomenon as a set of hierarchically leveled cognitive products that are measured, tested and quantified the overt behaviors of students caused by instruction. In my view, the domain is hypothetical, logical and technical framework which ignores the students’ individual difference in terms of cognitive process and complexity.

Bloom’s revised cognitive domain . Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) revised cognitive domain of the Bloom’s taxonomy. They introduced two dimensional framework of cognitive domain. The two dimensions they have introduced are: knowledge dimension and cognitive process dimension. Iowa State University has stated on its website (1995-2015) that Anderson and Krathwohl have redefined the cognitive domain as the intersection of the cognitive process dimension and the knowledge dimension. The knowledge dimension has been classified into four types of knowledge representing a continuum from concrete to abstract i.e., factual, conceptual, procedural and meta-cognitive knowledge to be acquired by students through learning activities. The dimension of cognitive process contains six levels of thinking skills i.e. remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create which are in a continuum of simple to complex. The revised taxonomy of cognitive domain has emphasized on the process rather than product. Knowledge and cognitive process have been separated and intersected in the revised taxonomy. To my understanding, the taxonomy is the text representative cognitive and knowledge rather than the representation of human situated cognition.

Therefore, the framework has not talked on the individual differences in cognitive performance of students. Rather, it has specified the cognitive skills as learning objectives to be performed by students at the different levels of cognitive process and criteria of test development to measure the attainment of objectives.

New taxonomy of educational objectives . Marzano and Kendall (2007) introduced “The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives” claiming their taxonomy being improved and contrasted in two ways. First, it represents a model or theory of human thought rather than a framework, and second, it presents a hierarchical system of human thought from the perspectives of flow of information and level of consciousness (Marzano & Kendall, 2007). They have conceptualized two dimensional cognitive domain i. e. cognitive levels of processing dimension and domains of knowledge dimension. The cognitive processing dimension encompasses self-system, meta cognitive system and cognitive system(retrieval, comprehension, analysis and knowledge utilization); in which, “in terms of flow of information, processing starts with the self-system, proceeds to the meta-cognitive system, then to the cognitive system, and finally to the knowledge domains”(Marzano & Kendall, 2007, p. 16). The cognitive system, meta-cognitive system and self-system employ different levels of cognitive consciousness, rather than the provisioned of hierarchical learning complexities in Bloom’s taxonomy. Knowledge is the key player in a new task. Knowledge has been categorized into three domains i. e. information, mental procedures and psychomotor procedures. The six levels of the New Taxonomy interact in different ways with these three knowledge domains ( Marzano & Kendall, 2007). Hence, the knowledge of the different domains of knowledge is processed by the six levels of the cognitive processing.

Self-system thought . Self system is the key player and determiner in the cognitive/mental process. Self-system consists of an interrelated arrangement and interaction of attitudes, beliefs, and emotions that determines individual’s both motivation and attention towards engagement or disengagement in a new task of learning (Marzano & Kendall, 2007). It is the key determinant in the mental process to make decision of knowledge to be acquired and select or set up personal goals which determines the functioning to all other elements i. e. the meta-cognitive system, the cognitive system and the knowledge system. Self-system involves in examining of importance, efficacy, emotional response and overall motivation.

Grounding of the Taxonomy of Cognitive Learning

Educationists define the learning as a process of attaining to the educational objectives set priory. The taxonomy of educational objectives proposed by Benjamin Bloom (1956), Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) and Marzano and Kendall (2007) are grounded in the Tylerian objective oriented approach to learning which is regarded as a technical, scientific, logical and linear approach. The consensus of these three types of taxonomy of educational objectives reveals that the cognitive outcomes appeared are regarded as immediate, objective, measurable, specific, discrete and observable. These educationists have also believed in cognitive change or knowledge acquisition as a technical and formatted manner to be easily generalized. The former is philosophically based on behaviorism and structuralism, whereas the later has tended to constructivism. The frameworks of cognitive learning of Bloom (1956) and Anderson’s revised taxonomy (2001) have entirely ignored the individual difference in cognitive process. But Marzano and Kendall (2007) have identified self-system thinking as key determinant in the mental processing system. It means there is diverse self-system thinking in a classroom heading to attain same cognitive objectives. The theory indicates that there are several self systems of mental process confined within a same educational program.


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Instruction in Classroom-Situated Cognitive Multiplicity of Higher Education. An Understanding Pedagogy
Education Leadership
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As commented by the supervisor, the thesis reveals an intense and wide review of the theories and use of big words of literature. It is the thesis which is very rare in the field of higher education. The thesis has contributed to pedagogical understanding from the perspective of cognitive psychology in the classroom of higher education.
classroom-situated cognitive multiplicity, understanding pedagogy, lived classroom pedagogical experience, academic professional culture, multi-paradigmatic approach, multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives, analytic auto-ethnography, cognitive process, cognitive style, content schemata, thought system, grand narrative content, content driven pedagogy, mono-method pedagogy, critical integrated pedagogy, higher education pedagogy
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Karna Bahadur Chongbang (Author), 2016, Instruction in Classroom-Situated Cognitive Multiplicity of Higher Education. An Understanding Pedagogy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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