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Archive for May, 2013




the operation of the human mind

“Cognitive Science is the interdisciplinary study of the mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy, psychology artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics and anthropology.” (Thagard, 2012 para1). The study of the brain and mind helps the educator understand how students process information. Cognitive scientists assume that the mind functions based on “mental representations” (Thagard, 2012 para 10). These representations can best be explained through formal logic, rules, images, concepts and analogies. The function of the mind is compared to that of the computer. Theorists believe that the mind is able to analyze, make deductions and conduct searches like the computer does.

Formal logic seeks to find out how the mind reasons. It deals with the thought processes of the mind. There are two kinds of reasoning; inductive and deductive reasoning. (Barbey & Barsalou 2009 p 1) Inductive reasoning takes place when there is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion drawn. For instance, in a classroom full of two year olds, Child A is seen playing with Lego blocks. Child B goes over to Child A and takes the Lego blocks. Child A gets very upset and goes over to his teacher who is able to retrieve the toy. The next time Child A sees Child B approaching when he is playing he assumes Child B will automatically take his toys. Child A arrives at this conclusion based on his previous experience not taking into consideration that the intentions of Child B in this second scenario may be totally different. Deductive reasoning is inferred based on evidence. For instance, the children in the classroom do not go out for recess when it rains so when it starts to thunder, one child walks to his teacher and states that they will not be playing outside today because it is about to rain. Rules are based on the probability that a certain result will be achieved when a particular action is taken. The “If… Then…” rule is used to make this assumption. An example of this rule is, if you provide quality customer care to your clients then you will have a high percentage of client retention. Concepts can be explained as the ideas that the mind forms when presented with information. The brain is said to analyze information by making comparison between the information it receives and the information it has already gained.

Another aspect of Cognitive Science deals with the different learning styles; active, reflective, intuitive, global, sensing, sequential, verbal and visual. (Felder & Solomon 2003). This study deals with the strengths and weaknesses of each learning style. The verbal learner will not benefit that much from information presented visually. A verbal learner will need an explanation of what the information is all about. A sequential learner will need details presented in a step by step format. An active learner will need to have a hands-on experience with information presented to fully grasp and have an understanding of what it entails. An intuitive learner thinks through every minute detail to gain understanding. A sensing learner needs to connect information to facts of life. The global learner is able to solve problems quickly without having an explanation on how they were about to do it. Educators need to take into consideration the different learning styles of their students. If a child is finding difficulties in participating in an interesting activity it is possible that the activity has not been presented in a form that aligns with the student’s learning style. The education needs to observe each child to know what learning style they use.

The understanding of the functions of the mind gives the educator the necessary knowledge in setting the right environment as well as the right activities that stimulates the mind of students so their learning process is enhanced. Providing the right environment ensures the learning process is a success. The information about the different learning styles will enable educators to provide curriculum in a variety of ways so each student is able to fully participate in any classroom activity.


Barbey A. K. & Barsalou L. W. 2009 Reasoning and problem solving: models
Felder R. M. & Solomon B. A. (2013). Learning styles and strategies. Retrieved
May 19th 2013 from
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Thagard P. 2012. Cognitive Science. The Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved
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May 9 2013

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