Cognitive style identifies the ways individuals react to different situations. They include stable attitudes, preferences, or habitual strategies that distinguish the individual styles of perceiving, remembering, thinking, and solving problems. Individuals dynamically process and modify incoming information, organizing recent knowledge and assimilating it within the memory structure. This method adds to the individual’s intellectual development and extends the range of cognitive abilities that have been increasing throughout life. Zhang and Sternberg (2005) proposed a Threefold Model of Intellectual Styles in which they defined “intellectual styles” as individuals’ selected methods of processing information and dealing with tasks. They also stated that “intellectual style” is an all-encompassing term for different style constructs, including cognitive style, learning style, thinking style, and teaching style. The nature of styles and strategies provide information about children’s cognitive styles. This information can be used to improve (1) learning activities provided to children, (2) the teaching of children, and (3) children’s learning in school. One dimension of cognitive style is field dependence versus independence (FDI), which describes the individual’s way of perceiving, remembering, and thinking as they apprehend, store, transform, and process information. It distinguishes between field dependent (FD) and field independent (FI) students in a classroom situation, their learning behaviors, social situations and how FDI influences in the early childhood classroom, including. The cognitive styles’ characteristics define the individual’s way of understanding, thinking, remembering, judging, and solving problems. An individual’s cognitive style determines the cognitive strategies that are applied in a variety of situations and need to be considered when teaching students. Some teaching strategies and materials may increase or decrease achievement and learning based on the students’ cognitive styles. Thus, FDI cognitive styles have implications for teaching and learning
Olivia N. Saracho
Li-fang Zhang and Robert J. Sternberg
“Intellectual styles” refers to people’s preferred ways of processing information and dealing with cognitive and other tasks. Styles comprise an all-embracing way of understanding such constructs as cognitive styles, learning approaches, career personality types, thinking styles, teaching styles, and many others—constructs with or without the word “style.” The field of intellectual styles has a history of more than eight decades. Until the early 21st century, however, the field was constantly struggling with its identity as a result of three major challenges: (a) the lack of a common language and a conceptual framework with which work on styles could be understood, (b) the difficulty in distinguishing styles from intelligence/abilities and personality traits, and (c) the ambiguity concerning the link between work on styles and work in other fields. This identity crisis was exacerbated by three principal controversial issues regarding the nature of intellectual styles: whether styles are distinct constructs or similar constructs that overlap with one another but have different labels; whether styles represent traits or states, or whether they have elements of both; and whether styles are value free or value laden (i.e., some styles are more desirable than others in terms of human learning and performance). Over the years, the aforementioned difficulties inherent in intellectual styles impeded the progress of the field and confused both practitioners and the general public. Despite these and other difficulties, the field has flourished since the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Concerted attempts at theoretical conceptualizations have given some degree of unity to disparate bodies of literature. At the same time, tens of thousands of empirical investigations based on a wide range of style models and carried out in diverse populations across the globe have consistently demonstrated the critical roles that styles play in various domains of human lives. Undoubtedly, the existing literature has proved that intellectual styles are real, distinct psychological phenomena. Moreover, research findings have scientific value as well as practical implications for human learning and performance. Nevertheless, for the field to prosper further, several major limitations with the existing work must be overcome, and investigations that take into account the fast-changing world need to be initiated.
John R. Kirby and Stefan Merchant
Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to how learners adapt their learning processes to achieve academic goals. SRL is a complex construct that includes cognitive, metacognitive, and affective components. Research has consistently demonstrated a positive association between SRL and academic achievement. Current models of SRL show the cognitive and motivational processes required for effective SRL: how SRL develops, how SRL has been measured, and how assessment for learning can improve students’ SRL. This research has implications for teaching and assessment, in K–12 school and higher education contexts, including potential barriers for teachers and learners. Further research is required to develop and validate measures of SRL, establish that the effects of SRL are independent of other factors, examine longitudinal relationships, and test the long-term effects and generalizability of instruction in SRL. Just as learners need to change their thinking about learning to become effective SRL students, educators need to change their thinking and practices to become more effective teachers and assessors of SRL.
Rebecca Lazarides and Lisa Marie Warner
A teacher’s belief in his or her own capability to prompt student engagement and learning, even when students are difficult or unmotivated, has been labeled “teacher self-efficacy” in the context of social learning and social cognitive theory developed by Albert Bandura. Research shows that teachers with high levels of self-efficacy are more open to new teaching methods, set themselves more challenging goals, exhibit a greater level of planning and organization, direct their efforts at solving problems, seek assistance, and adjust their teaching strategies when faced with difficulties. These efforts pay off for self-efficacious teachers themselves, who have been found to be affected by burnout less often and are more satisfied in their jobs but also for their students, who show more motivation, academic adjustment, and achievement. While self-efficacy of the individual teacher explains how the individual teacher’s beliefs relate to students’ academic development, collective teacher efficacy helps to understand the differential effect of faculty and whole schools on student outcomes. Consequently, systematically exploring effective techniques to increase teacher self-efficacy is highly relevant to the teaching context. Previous research has suggested four sources related to the development of self-efficacy: mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and somatic and affective states. Although there is ample evidence that teacher self-efficacy and collective self-efficacy are important for teacher and student outcomes, and some intervention programs for teachers in trainings, career teachers, and upon school factors show promising results, there is still a lack of longitudinal and experimental research on the independent effect of each of the four sources on teacher self-efficacy.
Stoo Sepp, Steven J. Howard, Sharon Tindall-Ford, Shirley Agostinho, and Fred Paas
In 1956, Miller first reported on a capacity limitation in the amount of information the human brain can process, which was thought to be seven plus or minus two items. The system of memory used to process information for immediate use was coined “working memory” by Miller, Galanter, and Pribram in 1960. In 1968, Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed their multistore model of memory, which theorized that the memory system was separated into short-term memory, long-term memory, and the sensory register, the latter of which temporarily holds and forwards information from sensory inputs to short term-memory for processing. Baddeley and Hitch built upon the concept of multiple stores, leading to the development of the multicomponent model of working memory in 1974, which described two stores devoted to the processing of visuospatial and auditory information, both coordinated by a central executive system. Later, Cowan’s theorizing focused on attentional factors in the effortful and effortless activation and maintenance of information in working memory. In 1988, Cowan published his model—the scope and control of attention model. In contrast, since the early 2000s Engle has investigated working memory capacity through the lens of his individual differences model, which does not seek to quantify capacity in the same way as Miller or Cowan. Instead, this model describes working memory capacity as the interplay between primary memory (working memory), the control of attention, and secondary memory (long-term memory). This affords the opportunity to focus on individual differences in working memory capacity and extend theorizing beyond storage to the manipulation of complex information. These models and advancements have made significant contributions to understandings of learning and cognition, informing educational research and practice in particular. Emerging areas of inquiry include investigating use of gestures to support working memory processing, leveraging working memory measures as a means to target instructional strategies for individual learners, and working memory training. Given that working memory is still debated, and not yet fully understood, researchers continue to investigate its nature, its role in learning and development, and its implications for educational curricula, pedagogy, and practice.
P. Karen Murphy, Carla M. Firetto, Gwendolyn M. Lloyd, Liwei Wei, and Sara E. Baszczewski
Classroom discussions are a common pedagogical approach that involve verbal exchanges of information between teachers and students. Given their importance to teaching and learning, classroom discussions have been the focus of extensive curricular mandates and, to a lesser extent, research over the last several decades. In traditional classroom discussions, the teacher tends to be situated at the center of the discussion. This type of discussion model is commonly referred to as a transmissionary model, where the teacher transmits knowledge and understandings and often leads the discussion by posing factual questions and responding to students’ answers by giving evaluative feedback. However, productive classroom discussions are better characterized by a dialogic model with students at the center of the discussion. When students are encouraged to ask thoughtful questions, give reflective responses, and challenge each other using reasoned arguments within classroom discussions, they are more likely to become builders and owners of their knowledge. Indeed, productive classroom discussions tend to ignite students’ engagement, thinking, and understanding of knowledge across academic content areas. When adopting a dialogic model, classroom discussions can advance students’ learning by promoting their basic and high-level comprehension of literary text, reasoning, and argumentation during mathematical sense-making, scientific reasoning, and model building and even second-language proficiency and communicative competence. While the overarching aim of classroom discussions is to enhance student learning across content areas (e.g., language arts, mathematics, science, or second-language learning), the various roles that teachers assume in each of the content areas may have different emphases that align with various content learning expectations. Optimizing classroom discussions requires specific considerations of the content-focused goal, teacher knowledge of content and discourse orchestration, student instruction on classroom talk, and context of content learning. Importantly, the potential and promise of productive classroom discussions can be realized by supporting teachers’ content-specific discussion practices through sustained professional development and by supporting students through explicit instruction about discussion.
Carmel Hobbs, Dane Paulsen, and Jeff Thomas
Complex trauma experienced in childhood has detrimental impacts on the brain, learning and socio-moral development, the effects of which can last long into adulthood. A growing body of research emphasizes how all school teachers, regardless of the educational context, should expect to have students in their classroom who are affected by complex trauma. Teachers therefore require an understanding of how trauma affects their students, and a skillset that allows them to support and respond effectively to these students. However, multiple studies have found that teachers feel that they have not received sufficient training, and subsequently feel inadequately equipped to meet the needs of trauma-affected students in their classrooms. Although many Initial Teacher Education programs incorporate some curriculum on child maltreatment, this is typically focused on identifying and reporting child abuse, as opposed to how sustained and severe maltreatment can lead to complex trauma, which affects learning, and social development in students. Increasing understanding of how trauma affects the brain, and the implications this has for young people in school has continued to grow since the 1990s. This has contributed to a growing trend of multidisciplinary teams combining education and wellbeing models in schools to cater to the most vulnerable students in their respective communities. Students who have experienced trauma may appear to be deliberately misbehaving in the classroom, disengaged or disinterested in learning, and can struggle to develop skills that strengthen positive relationships with school staff and other students. Unsurprisingly, exposure to trauma impacts a young person’s academic performance, attendance, and likelihood of completion. It is clear that schools are important settings where the effects of trauma have a substantial impact on the lives of students, particularly when the effects of trauma are misunderstood. Nevertheless, schools have the potential to be one of the most powerful places for buffering the negative impacts of complex childhood trauma through their capacity to provide opportunities for all students to experience positive, trusting relationships, be cared for, and experience predictability, consistency and safety. A trauma-informed approach in school settings involves understanding how trauma affects students and provides a framework for responding to students rather than blaming them for their behavior. Trauma-informed practice is not an intervention, and it does not have an end point. It is a process, and a holistic way of working that involves understanding and attending to the specific needs of individuals with trauma-affected childhoods. Central to all trauma-informed approaches is the importance of strong, trusting, consistent and predictable relationships between an adult and a trauma-affected child. It is within this space that opportunities to repair dysregulated stress responses, and disruptive attachment styles can take place.