Cognition in Education (Paperback) book cover

Cognition in Education

By Matthew T. McCrudden, Danielle S. McNamara

© 2018 – Routledge

130 pages | 30 B/W Illus.

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There is commonly-held belief that some people learn better than others because they are born that way. However, research indicates that many people who learn better are simply more strategic: they use effective strategies and techniques to improve their learning. Further, these strategies and techniques can be taught to students. Thus, understanding how we learn enriches our lives and the lives of others. Written by leading experts on learning, this book situates this topic within the broader context of educational psychology research and brings it to a wider audience. With chapters on how the mind works, evidence-based recommendations about how to enhance learning from both the perspective of students and teachers, and clear explanations of key learning concepts and ideas, this short volume is designed for any education course that includes learning in the curriculum. It is indispensable for pre- and in-service teachers and student researchers alike.



"Cognition in Education is a useful primer for both students and teachers about learning—how it happens and how to improve it. The authors have struck a good balance, with just enough theory to understand and appreciate the practical learning and study strategies and tips described. The chapter on comprehension is particularly helpful and rich with ideas and examples. I especially appreciated the included glossary—all in all, the book is a great resource and an appropriate supplement for many courses."

—Anita Woolfolk Hoy, Professor Emerita, The Ohio State University, USA

"Drs. McCrudden and McNamara have produced an excellent, clear, and concise description of human cognition. The book is eminently readable and explains sophisticated topics in an easy-to-understand style. It also includes an ample number of concrete, personalized examples that make the content engaging and even more understandable. The student perspective and teacher perspective sections, such as "Using Knowledge of Attention: Student Perspective," provide practical and real-world suggestions that can be immediately applied to learning and teaching. This is a fine piece of work, and I have cited it in several places in my own writing."

—Paul Eggen, PhD, Professor, University of North Florida, USA

Table of Contents


Introduction and Overview

Information Processing Model of Human Cognition

Consciousness or Working Memory

Long-term Memory

  • Declarative Memory
  • Procedural Memory

Summary of Key Ideas



  • Our attention is limited

Attention and Learning

  • People focus their attention on things that are novel, emotional, or physically distinct
  • People focus their attention on relevant stimuli

Using Knowledge of Attention: Student perspective

Using Knowledge of Attention: Teacher perspective

  • Ensuring students pay attention to information helps them learn
  • Ensuring students avoid attending to distracting information

Summary of Key Ideas


Distributed Practice

  • Distributed practice is more beneficial when there is a time gap between study episodes
  • The distributed practice effect is more pronounced when there is a time gap between the last study episode and the final test

Using Distributed Practice: Student perspective

Using Distributed Practice: Teacher perspective

Retrieval practice

  • Retrieving information from memory is beneficial for learning
  • When using retrieval practice, attempting to recall is more beneficial than attempting to recognize
  • How much time should pass between initial study and retrieval practice?

Using Retrieval Practice: Student perspective

Using Retrieval Practice: Teacher perspective

Summary of Key Ideas



Generating Questions

  • Generating high quality questions is beneficial for comprehension

Elaborating and Explaining Text

  • Generating explanations is beneficial for learning
  • When encoding information, making information meaningful facilitates memory

Graphic Organizers

  • Completing a graphic organizer is beneficial for learning

Improving Comprehension: Student perspective

Improving Comprehension: Teacher perspective

Summary of Key Ideas




About the Authors

Matthew T. McCrudden is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Danielle S. McNamara is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University, USA.

About the Series

Ed Psych Insights

Edited by Patricia A. Alexander and written by well-known experts, each Ed Psych Insights volume centers on a key construct that is already part of Education discourse, such as motivation, self-regulation, student assessment, strategic processing, and emotions. Written in language common to all scholars of Education and readable by the intelligent public, these books translate the sometimes esoteric nature of the field into an accessible, primer-like format.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Psychology
EDUCATION / Students & Student Life