CECS 5210 Blog Reflection: ID from a cognitive perspective

What do you think about instructional design so far?

It is far easier for me to write a report on the cognitive approach to instruction design than it is for me to come up with an opinion about instructional design. Before I try to write what I think, I will start with an introduction. Cognitive theory is borne from the relatively new interdisciplinary field of cognitive science. Cognitive science studies the nature of the mind by drawing from research in a number of areas including psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and biology. The term cognitive refers to perceiving and knowing, and cognitive scientists seek to understand mental processes such as perceiving, thinking, remembering, understanding language, and learning (Sorden, 2005).

Popular forms of multimedia instruction, such as online learning and the more inclusive computer-based training (CBT), have created many new possibilities for education. They provide new ways of delivering content, and they often promote learner-centered environments that can motivate students and add variety to learning. In this environment, instructional units are often accompanied by a liberal use of multimedia that is intended to add excitement to the lesson and hold the learner’s attention. However, visual and auditory components that are intended to stimulate rather than educate do not always make for sound instructional design in multimedia delivery and can quickly become counter-productive to learning (Sorden, 2005).

Meaningful learning is described as a deep understanding of the material, which includes attending to salient aspects of the presented material, retaining relevant information in both visual working memory and auditory working memory, organizing it into a coherent mental structure, and integrating it with relevant prior knowledge. Multimedia learning combining animation with narration generally improves performance on retention tests better than when information is presented as either text or narration alone. More importantly, meaningful learning is demonstrated when the learner can apply what is presented in new situations, and students perform better on problem-solving transfer tests when they learn with words and pictures (Sorden, 2005).

How can instructors help learning become meaningful? Here is a list of training design cognitive principles taken from ASTD Handbook of Instructional Technology (Wilson, 1993).

Foster a learning culture.

  1. Offer training, within an overall culture that encourages cooperation, risk-taking, and growth.
  2. Get learners’ buy-in and commitment in achieving training goals.

Motivate learners.

  1. Demonstrate the value of the training to the learners and cultivate their sense of confidence in their ability to master the objectives.

Make training problem-centered.

  1. Draw on authentic needs and contexts; make requirements of learning tasks similar to important requirements of job tasks.
  2. Encourage learners’ active construction of meaning, drawing on their existing knowledge.
  3. Teach multiple learning outcomes together.
  4. Sequence instruction so that learners can immediately benefit from what they learn by applying it to real-world tasks.

Help learners assume control of their learning.

  1. Provide coaching.
  2. Provide scaffolding and support in performing complex tasks.
  3. Adjust tools (equipment), task, and environment.
  4. Provide timely access to information and expertise.
  5. Provide timely access to performance feedback.
  6. Utilize group problem-solving methods.
  7. Provide help only when the learner is at an impasse and only enough help for the learner to complete the task.
  8. Fade support.
  9. Minimize mean time to help (i.e., provide “just-in-time” training).
  10. Encourage learners to reflect on their actions.
  11. Encourage exploration.
  12. Encourage learners to detect and learn from their errors.

Provide meaningful “practice.”

  1. Provide opportunities for learners to apply what they’ve learned in authentic contexts. If it is not feasible to practice on real tasks, provide cases or simulations.
  2. Personalize practice.


Instructional design with a cognitive approach is a good idea for teachers and trainers alike. I agree with the concepts and I recognize my college professors implemented several of these strategies. If I am tasked with creating meaningful learning I hope I will be able to apply these concepts to design instruction. Currently I am only creating “informational instruction” because I am following a preset teaching format used by the department called procedures. These procedures are simply a list of steps designed to achieve a desired result. Although learning does occur, it lacks meaning. After learners follow the prescribe steps, they have completed a task, but they may not remember the steps in the future and may have to access the procedure again to perform the same task. Repetition of the steps will eventually result in learning, but not necessarily a deep understanding of the task. I think providing the reasons why the particular steps in the task are performed would improve my instructional design.



Sorden, S. D. (2005). A cognitive approach to instructional design for multimedia learning. Informing Science Journal. 8. 1-17. Retrieved from http://inform.nu/Articles/Vol8/v8p263-279Sorden34.pdf

Wilson, B. G., Jonassen, D. H., & Cole, P. (1993). Cognitive approaches to instructional design. In G. M. Piskurich (Ed.), The ASTD handbook of instructional technology (pp. 21.1-21.22). New York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/~bwilson/training.html


CECS 5210 Blog Reflection: Self-Regulation

What does it mean to manage/regulate yourself (self-regulate) and others? How does it bring you towards goals? How important is communication in this process and what helps/impedes it?

I came across an interesting article about developing self-regulation in kindergarten children. The article written by E. Bodrova and D. J. Leong was titled Can we keep all the crickets in the basket? In the article a kindergarten teacher says that teaching 5-year olds is like trying to keep crickets in a basket: when you open the lid to put in a few more crickets, the others jump out.

“In today’s kindergarten classrooms, where demands for academic learning are on the rise, teachers can no longer wait until their “little crickets” simply outgrow their hard-to-manage behaviors. In fact, many teachers rate “difficulty following directions” as their number one concern about children, indicating that more than half of their students experience this difficulty” (Bodrova, 2008).

Self-regulation is a deep, internal mechanism that enables children as well as adults to engage in mindful, intentional, and thoughtful behaviors. Self-regulation has two sides, first, it involves the ability to control one’s impulses and to stop doing something when needed, and second, it involves the ability to do something even if one doesn’t want to do it. Social interactions require emotional self-regulation. Thinking requires cognitive self-regulation. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that self-regulation can be taught in the classroom. As children grow older and their brains develop, they can increasingly take control of both their feelings and their thinking. If a neural system is repeatedly exercised, it will continue to develop, just like exercising a muscle. On the other hand, if children do not systematically engage in self-regulatory behaviors at a young age, the corresponding brain areas may not develop to their full potential. Examples of self-regulation children can learn in kindergarten are to resist the immediate feeling to blurt out the answer when the teacher poses a question to another child or to delay playing outside until an assignment is completed. Suggestions for teachers to help develop these skills are also presented in the article.

Addressing gaps in knowledge alone cannot guarantee success in learning for all children. Addressing the development of self-regulation as an underlying skill is what makes learning possible. Instruction in self-regulation in the early years deserves just as much attention as the instruction in academic subjects.

Another article by Alice Boyes states that adults that have successfully learned emotional self-regulation experience personal happiness, success, and healthy relationships. The article asks ten question about behaviors that indicate emotional self-regulation:

  • Can you identify which specific emotions you’re feeling?
  • Can you identify which specific emotions someone else is feeling?
  • Do you have the ability to start and persist with pursuing goals even when you feel anxious?
  • Do you have the ability to tolerate awkwardness?
  • Can you have intimate conversation rather than stonewall, avoid or flee?
  • Do you crumble when someone is pressuring you?
  • Can you sooth your own emotions?
  • Can you sooth others?
  • Can you wait?
  • Do you know how to manage your positive emotions? (Boyes, 2013)

The article advises that anyone having difficulty in any of these areas shouldn’t criticize themselves, but rather use the revelation to work on improving these target areas.

Immediate gratification often impedes self-regulation. Some people rarely hesitate when offered a piece of their favorite candy, even if they are trying to lose weight. Marketing companies exploit this human weakness further by promoting impulse buying. Even the digital age has made most people feel impatient by delivering information on every topic on every device at any moment. Researchers warn that giving tablets and smartphones to children to divert their attention could be detrimental to developing internal mechanisms of self-regulation (Walters, 2015). The adverse effects of television and video on very small children is well understood, but society’s understanding of the impact of mobile devices on the preschool brain has been outpaced by how many children are already using them. “Additionally, these devices may replace the hands-on activities important for the development of sensorimotor and visual-motor skills, which are equally important for the learning and application of mathematics and science” (Walters, 2015). Although there is evidence that well-researched early-learning television programs, electronic books, and learn-to-read applications on mobile devices can help vocabulary and reading comprehension, but only when children are much closer to school age. It is not difficult to see how a child that receives immediate visual stimulus grows into an impatient adult that lacks the ability to self-regulate.



Bodrova, E. (2008). Developing self-regulation in kindergarten: can we keep all the crickets in the basket? Beyond the Journal – Young Children on the Web. https://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200803/BTJ_Primary_Interest.pdf

Boyes, A. (2013). 10 essential emotional regulation skills for adults. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201304/10-essential-emotion-regulation-skills-adults

Walters, J. (2015). Tablets and smartphones may affect social and emotional development, scientists speculate. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/01/toddler-brains-research-smartphones-damage-social-development

CECS 5210 Blog Reflection: Analysis and Design


Part 1: What have you learned from the analysis? What are you planning to do with it? Do a little brainstorming about what activities tied to your learning objectives that you might include in the design of your lesson.

It is unfortunate, but I have to report that I’m not sure I learned anything from the analysis and I’m really not sure what to do with it. I’m actually concerned, and quite frustrated, that I can’t get my head wrapped around this concept. In order to answer these blog questions accurately, I did some further research about Learning Needs Assessments and found the following analogy:Learning Needs Assessments (LNA) or Training Needs Assessments (TNA) share several similarities with the labyrinth. Just as a labyrinth has a path to follow, the LNA has a “gap” that must be found and bridged. This gap is what is between what is currently in place and what is needed, both now and in the future. While some labyrinths have one path that must strictly be followed, others have a multitude of ways to reach the end or exit.” (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/isd/assessment.html).  Okay, so now I understand the assessment is there to bridge the gap. But I feel I am way past that gap already. Maybe I’m moving too quickly (which seems unlikely considering how far behind I am on my projects this semester). For my first project in particular, training doesn’t exist and I get to create it. I have been given a template for the training and I need to plug in the information. Taking the time to write an analysis seemed like a waste of time. If I didn’t know what training needed to be developed, or how the training should be structured, then I think I would place more value to the analysis step. But in this case, I don’t.

Then I get really stumped when trying to answer ‘What activities tied to my learning objectives might be included in the design of my lesson.’ Again, maybe I’m over thinking this. It was hard enough for me to put my learning objectives in to words, but trying to say how they are going to be a part of the lesson design doesn’t make sense to me. My lesson design is written step-by-step instructions in a standardized format that is often used by the “Client” to establish procedures or protocol. Maybe I’m just having a problem with choice of words. Instead of ‘what are you planning to do with your analysis’ I should answer ‘what information needs to be presented in the lesson?’ Instead of ‘what activities in the learning objectives might be included in the lesson design’ I should answer ‘what do learners need to learn?’ No, I doubt that is correct either because those questions ask the same thing. More and more it is looking like my mind understands the end product but doesn’t know how to explain the steps to get to the end product.

Part 2: How are analysis and design related for you? Think about it in the context the articles and chapters we have read thus far. How closely should these two pieces of the model connect? How does the Information R/Evolution video affect each of these?

Not knowing how to answer the second part of this blog post I searched Google for “how are instructional analysis and design related” and found this quote from Allison Rossett & Kendra Sheldon: “Analysis is the study we do in order to figure out what to do.” (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/sat2.html). Here we go again with needs assessment and ADDIE. Hey wait! Maybe I NEED the backwards planning approach of ADDIE! My goal has been identified and now I just need the actions that will likely help me effectively and efficiently arrive at the goal. The major steps of backwards planning in ADDIE are:

   Result – What impact will improve our business?

   Performance – What do the employees have to perform in order to create the desired impact?

   Learning – What knowledge, skills, and resources do they need in order to perform?

   Motivation – What do they need to perceive in order to learn and perform?

For my project the result is end users knowing how to use the SmartBoard, performance is end users following written prompts to achieve desired results, learning requires reading, understanding and/or following instructions, and using a computer and the Smartboard tools, and motivation is they need to use and troubleshoot the SmartBoard without calling tech support every time they want to use it.

I suppose analysis and design for me connect very closely. If analysis is the gap between what we have now and what we actually need, (I think I’m starting to understand analysis correctly), then the design is the blueprints for the thing that fills the gap.

The Information R/Evolution video was pretty cool, but, I can’t answer how the things in the video affect analysis or design. I’ve thought hard about this one and I’m not able to tie it together. I don’t feel confident or productive about these assignments. It’s these kinds of frustrations that cause me to think I’ve made a poor choice in my graduate degree. No one has yet been able to tell me what I’m going to be able to do for a career after I graduate either. I don’t feel I am where I belong. I don’t normally add personal thoughts and feelings to my blog assignments, but isn’t that what a blog is for? I don’t believe people read the blogs of others anyway. It’s just a very public online version of a private journal where you chat with yourself. But in this case, it is a way for my instructor to check if I’m understanding the elements of this project.