Enhancing Learning and Thinking

By Robert F. Mulcahy; Robert H. Short et al. | Go to book overview

PART 1
ISSUES AND APPLICATIONS

Interest in cognitive training procedures is not a new phenomenon in education. In fact, as early as the 1880s, programs or approaches that promised to enhance both learning and mental abilities had been established. It should be recognized, however, that contemporary efforts to enhance learning and thinking abilities are distinguishable from early attempts in at least two important ways. First, current approaches tend to emphasize the process of cognition rather than the product of cognition along with the respect for the fact that cognitive performance is capable of, and indeed often sensitive to, modification. Second, while the enhancement of higher-order thinking ability has been a goal of education for many years, it was generally directed toward a rather elite segment of society and not to the population as a whole. In contrast, most current cognitive training programs are designed for the benefit of the whole range of school-aged and college students with many programs designed specifically for particular groups of individuals. Part 1 provides examples of some of the current approaches that are being used to enhance the learning and thinking of individuals in society.

The first four chapters present some general influences on the development of learning and thinking in students. In chapter 1, Raymond S. Nickerson presents a number of conclusions drawn from his considerable experience with the teaching of thinking. He maintains that although our knowledge of thinking is somewhat limited and fragmented, we actually do know enough about it to justify the hope that it can be improved. He believes that the attitudinal variable is a critical one in the teaching of thinking and also argues that because think-

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