What is the Cognitive approach to classroom management?

      The Cognitive approach focuses on internal frameworks within the mind. Instead of changing external behaviors (Behaviorism), it looks toward adjusting internalized thought patterns. Within instruction, the cognitive model would look to breaking down tasks into smaller parts and moving from simple processes and thoughts to more complex. In the end, the Cognitive approach aims to form lifelong learners by teaching the skills necessary to work within a community of learners. It is based on the idea that children actively construct their own knowledge. Therefore, teachers should be facilitators in student learning and classroom management.


                                                                                              John Dewey

                                                                                 John Dewey (1859-1952)

Classroom Structure

     There are so many facets to classroom structure. Below is a list of a few that must be considered when thinking about the Cognitive approach and classroom management.


  • Rules - A set of guidelines used to effectively and efficiently organize and run a classroom. They should be overarching and apply to everyone justly.
  • Procedures - Steps for completing a task in a specific way. They are intended to help the classroom run smoothly and simply. Procedures take modeling and practice in order to be done correctly and efficiently.
  • Transitions - This is a proactive approach to the flow of the class for the movement from one activity to the next. When thinking about transitions, a teacher should have a clear idea of the routines and activities of the day.
  • Incentives -Providing positive activities, praise, or material possessions for good behaviors. If done properly they can be useful. It may be beneficial to use community or whole classroom incentives to promote wanted behaviors or responses.
  • Communication - Using communication strategies can help to eliminate power struggles and provide a way to model how to communicate in the classroom. Teachers should avoid power struggles with their students. 


The democratic classroom

     The important idea is to teach that education is a privilege. When students view education in this way, they can build a community of learners. Teachers need to keep the atmosphere positive and promote discussion between every learner in the community. Students' ideas should be valued and accepted. This type of classroom relies heavily on collaboration among peers. Click the picture below for more information on how to set up a democratic classroom.



 Concluding remarks about the cognitive model

Running Brain

      The cognitive model focuses on structure and the ability for students to become lifelong learners. This can be done by teaching necessary skills and allowing students to mentally make decisions that would be best for them and their classmates. They can internalize rules and consequences and hopefully make the best choice for what actions they will take during the course of a day. Students are able to internalize skills and teachings that would allow them to help build a democratic classroom. Teachers should utilize concepts of classroom structure to help manage their classrooms. This includes teaching that education is truly a privilege. Once students internalize this idea of education, a truly democratic environment can begin to emerge.