• Cognitive Structures-

    “Ways of Thinking”

    • Cognitive structures are the basic mental processes used to make sense of information
    • Cognitive structures are developed through reflective awareness and visualization.
    • Students use cognitive structures to process information by comparing bits of data to create connections, identify patterns,

    Two Things to Remember about Cognitive Structures

    1. It is never too late to develop cognitive structures.
    2. Cognitive structures have to be developed by each individual for him/her self. They cannot be directly taught, but can be stimulated.

    Conservation of Constancy

    Conservation of Constancy is a comparative cognitive structure essential for identifying relationships and making sense of physical and abstract information.

    Students who lack the ability to use this cognitive structure are easily confused and fail to benefit from their experiences. They have difficulty transferring information from one situation to another and discerning relevance because disconnected bits of data appear to be equally important.

    What can you do to stimulate this cognitive structure?

    Provide opportunities for concrete, sensory experiences.

    Arrange for the child to play with objects that can be manipulated; for example,
    give the child containers of different sizes and shapes that can be filled with water (or sand) and emptied into each other. Ask the child what he or she notices about how much water it takes to fill the different containers, what happens to the water when it is poured from large containers into smaller ones or visa versa. Take two tall skinny glasses (or water bottles) that have the same amount of water (the child needs to make sure both glasses have the same level of water). Then have the child to pour the water from one of the tall skinny glasses into a short fat one. Set the containers with water side by side and ask, “Which has more water or do you still have the same amount of water?” Allow the child to experiment by pouring the water back and forth until he or she realizes that the amount of water stays the same even though the shape changes. This same procedure can be used with two balls of clay that have the same amount of clay in each. Smash one into a pancake, then ask the child if the two pieces of clay have the same amount or one has more or less than the other.

    Encourage the child to notice what changes and what stays the same when he or she is playing with blocks, toy animals, shapes, etc.

    Encourage the child to notice how much space objects take up or cover on the floor when they are in different positions.

    Encourage the child to notice what things weigh and how their size relates to other things that are similar.

    The child will develop the cognitive structure of conservation of constancies by physically manipulating objects and materials and comparing what changed and what stayed the same.

    Conservation of constancies is basic for all learning.