Enhancing Cognitive Development in College Classrooms: A Review

By Thompson, Jill M. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Enhancing Cognitive Development in College Classrooms: A Review

Thompson, Jill M., Journal of Instructional Psychology

University professors encounter more cognitive challenges within the college classroom instructional process than in previous decades. As such, a push for instructional review is echoed on college campuses. This article includes a review of the current literature on cognitive enhancement from the theoretical framework of William Perry's and Jean Piaget's Cognitive State Theory and Lev. S. Vygotsky's Constructivist Theory. Moreover, the article provides an operational definition of development, outlines variables that affect the developmental process, articulates the impact of challenge and support as it relates to development and concludes with a template of cognitive theory for instruction within the college classroom.

The university is widely regarded as the place to develop academic skills and to disseminate knowledge (Winston, Banney, Miller and Dagley, 1988). However, universities must accept another responsibility, holistic development of students. Development occurs from scaffolding critical thinking and transforming character. As such, the task for both administrators and educators is to commit to developing students holistically. The point is, learning can lead to development. Therefore, development cannot be separated from its social context (Vygotsky 1977). Such an undertaking requires strategies other than one-to-one intervention provided by counselors-the college classroom. This researcher sought to review the mechanisms and principles of development, the acquisition and processing of knowledge and social interaction as related to enhancing cognitive development in college students via the classroom.


Development refers to both qualitative and quantitative changes in behavior, physical abilities, social interactions and roles. Most important, development occurs as a consequence of physical maturation or deterioration, influences from the environment, or from an interaction between the current status of the organism and the environment which causes more quantitative shifts in beliefs, values, and attitudes that occur as a person attempts to adapt to the increasingly complex demands of the environment. (Hunt and Schroder, 1961). Developmental psychologists (Neugarten, 1988; Boltes; Reese & Lipsitt, 1980) argue that they are interested in patterns of change in abilities, structures and behavior.

On the other hand, social - cognitive developmental theories encompass what others have referred to as the cognitive-developmental and structural-adaptive theories (Piaget, 1970; Perry, 1970; Loveninger, 1976; and Kholberg, 1976). Cognitive - developmental theories focus on orderly changes in reasoning patterns. Reasoning patterns are constructs which act as filters through which an individual ascribes meaning to an event, issue or problem. Furthermore, Touchton, Wertheimer, Cornfeld and Harrison (1977) noted the variables important to developmental change:

* Openness to Alternatives Perspectives - respect for others opinions and thoughts.

* Analysis - the ability to see more than one perspective.

* Ability to assume Responsibility - the ability to accept consequences for decisions.

* World-view - how an individual discerns his world.

* Semantic Structure - communication styles and thought patterns.

* Self Processes - objective assessment of self.

* Interpersonal view

The individual act with more complexities within his (her)world as variables are integrated.

How Development Occurs

Agents of Change

Adaption is the process by which development evolves. The adaption process is divided into two complimentary parts, assimilation and accommodation. Through this dual process of adaption, the individual creates new structures to deal effectively with his environment. In the process of assimilation the individual actively incorporates features of the external world into his existing structures.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Enhancing Cognitive Development in College Classrooms: A Review


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?