The cognitive theory formulated by Jean Piaget, argues that the cognitive development takes place with the reorganization of the structures, as a consequence of the adaptive processes to the environment, as from the assimilation and adaptation of the experience, according to the previous knowledge.

If the physical and social experience comes into conflict with the previous knowledge, the cognitive structures adapt in order to incorporate the new experience, and this is what is considered as learning. The learning content is organized in knowledge schemas of different levels of complexity.

In Piaget’s theory we find two functions, called assimilation and accommodation, which are essential for the adaptation of the organism to the environment. This adaptation is understood as a cognitive effort of the individual in order to find a balance between him and the environment.

Through assimilation, the organism incorporates information into the cognitive structures in order to adjust better the previous knowledge that it has, while through accommodation the organism gets adjusted to the demanding circumstances. It is an intelligent behavior that helps incorporating the experience of the actions to achieve a better development.

These mechanisms of assimilation and accommodation form units of cognitive structures that Piaget calls schemas. These schemas are internalized representations of certain types of actions or realizations, as if something happens in the mind but without carrying out the action. One can say that the schema constitutes a cognitive plan that establishes the sequence of steps that lead to the solution of the problem.

On the other hand, Vygotsky sociocultural theory considers the social environment as crucial for learning, meaning, that the integration of the personal and social factors allows developing the learning.

A very important concept in Vygotsky’s theory is the zone of proximal development, which refers to the distance that exists between the real level of development and the feasible level of development. This process requires the guidance of the teacher or the collaboration from more skilled classmates. It is important to mention that the cognitive change takes place on the zone of proximal development when the teacher and the student share factors of their environment (cultural object, language and social institutions).



To define learning and to study how it is produced has been arduously discussed by various theorists and researchers. Tarpy defines learning as a “change provoked on the mental state of the organism, which comes from the experience and influences in a relatively permanent way on the organism’s potential for the subsequent adaptive behavior”. This learning or mental change should allow the individual to become part of the culture, handle information critically, use technology without idolizing it, deal with uncertainty and build, metaphorically, the knowledge.

When we refer specifically, to the learning of science, it implies learning to speak the typical language of it, being able to communicate through it and be an active member of the community of people that uses it. In order for this learning to be effective, there are necessary conceptual, linguistic, logical and experimental requisites, as well as cognitive and studying skills.

The cognitive theory focuses on the mental processes of the apprentice, and explores the mechanisms through which the information is received, organized, stored, retained and used in the brain. The cognitive theorist hold that the way in which knowledge is structured and organized internally within the student has a considerable impact on how a new learning occurs. The new learning is based on using the previous knowledge in order to understand the new situation. According to the cognitive theory, the information to be processed should be organized in such a way that allows the apprentice to connect the new information with the previous knowledge in a meaningful way.

The information processing theory (more on can be considered as the central axis of the cognitive approach, which has been built with the contribution from numerous researches. This theory starts from the premise that learning is a response to the stimulus from the environment, but states that in between this stimulus and the response, intervenes the system of information processing of the apprentice.

It postulates a memory system that explains the stages of the information processing. Three types of memory form this system:

  1. Sensory Memory (SM), which is associated to the senses and stores information for a short period of time.
  2. Short-term memory (STM), also known as working memory, which is where the information is processed, being able to store a limited amount of information for a limited amount of time.
  3. Long-term memory (LTM), which represents the unlimited storage memory. When the information is stored in the LTM one can say that the information has been learned.


Cognitive Strategies

From the cognitive perspective of learning, students are expected to become independent, autonomous and self-regulated apprentices, able to learn how to learn. Diaz & Hernandez, define learning how to learn in the following way: “It implies the ability to reflect on the way one learns, and act accordingly, self-regulating the own learning process through the use of appropriate and flexible strategies that can be transferred and adapted to new situations”.

Starting from this concept, to develop the ability to learn how to learn the students need to use the appropriate strategies that allow them to deal with the cognitive project. The cognitive strategies are the mental operations and procedures that a person uses in order to learn something. They constitute the abilities that allow the internal control of the functioning of the mental activities and other processes involved in learning, remembering and thinking. Cognitive strategies are classified in three groups:


  1. Rehearsal strategies. These strategies allow practicing the material received through our environment, with the purpose of transferring it to the working memory. Within these strategies we can find: repeating, rehearsing, practicing and enumerating. According to Pozo, these strategies are useful specially when the materials to be used have little, or zero logical or psychological significance for the apprentice. They are basic strategies to achieve repetitive or rote learning.
  2. Elaboration strategies. To elaborate means to carry out activities that allow the apprentice to generate some symbolic representations with the information that is trying to learn, with the purpose of making it meaningful. According to this, elaboration strategies are directed to integrate and relate the new information to be learned with the appropriate previous knowledge. Meaning, transferring the knowledge accumulated on the long-term memory to the working memory, and assimilating the coming information with the already existent one. There can be two types of elaboration strategies: verbal or imaginary. Within the verbal elaboration strategies we find: paraphrasing, identifying key concepts, inferring, summarizing, etc. While the imaginary elaboration strategies are directed to the formation of mental images.
  3. Organizational strategies. These strategies allow reorganizing constructively the information to be learned. Through the use of such strategies is possible to organize, group, or classify the information, with the purpose of achieving a right representation of the information. They allow establishing relations between the new information and the schematic organization forms internalized by the apprentice. Some examples of these strategies are semantic networks or concept maps. Semantic networks or concept maps are powerful tools to design and represent graphically ideas and their relations. They are formed by concepts, linked together through connectors. The process of creating semantic networks involves the students in the analysis of their own knowledge structure. During the process of acquiring the information, the students identify ideas or concepts important in the material, and represent their structure and relations as a network; for this the students use circles that include the idea or concept, and the lines that represent the relations.



The cause and effect diagram, or “Ishikawa diagram” named after its creator, it is also known as “fishbone chart”, due to its shape similar to a fish skeleton. It is composed of a box (head), a main line (spine) and 4 or more lines that point towards the main line, forming an angle of aproximately 70º (main fishbones). These have in turn two or three leaning lines (fishbones), and so on and so forth, depending on the degree of complexity of the information.


This tool from the group of the Graphic Organizers allows to organize a series of events or milestones on a certain topic, in a way that one can clearly vizualize the chronological relationship between them.

In order to create a timeline about a specific topic, one should identify the events and the dates (starting and ending dates) in which these occurred; organize the events in a chronological order; select the most important events in order to establish the appropriate time intervals; group the similar events; determine the visualization scale to be used, and organize the events in the diagram.


A big progress in the way of organizing the information, at the beginning of the last century, was the use of the bracket map. In reality, until no long ago they were the only used diagrams. These graphic organizers could be found in the following ways: as bracket diagrams, as hierarchical charts or as a matrix (summarizing chart). Through brackets is possible to represent the relationship between the concepts in a hierarchicall and horizontal way.


A flowchart, is a graphic organizer that allows to represent with some detai the sequence of a process. In other words, is a chart, in which the concepts show a cause-effect relationship or they are displayed as the action is being developed. These charts are very common in electronics, computer studies and mathematics.



The portfolio is a teching, learning and assesments method in which the students provide different types of material through which one can evaluate their abilities within certain discipline or study field. This material gives information about the process followed by the student, allowing him and others to see his efforts and successes in relation to the goals and evaluation criteria previously established.

The portfolio as a learning and teaching method, is based on the theory that sees evaluation as the way students think about their learning. The portfolio responds to two essential aspects of the learning-teaching process, it implies a whole methodology and learning strategy in the interaction between the teacher and the student; and in the other side, it is an evaluation method that allows one to put together and coordinate a combination of elements that work as a proof and provide an assesment close to the reality, which would be hard to get with other, more traditional evaluation methods which provide a more fragmented overview.


From the perspective of knowledge as information processing, specifically focussing on Ausubel’s significant learning, Novak (1988) introduces the concept map as an answer to significant learning.

Chart diagrams. Is a chart in the form of a square or rectangle, divided in rows and columns that allows at first sight to determine the characteristic similarities and differences between related topics; they are generally used to summarize very long topics, that when studied in an isolated way it would not be possible to establish relations between them.

Some of the most commons graphic organizers used, are:


It is a method which has the purpose of synthesizing, and at the same time, relating in a significant way the concepts of a certain topic. These maps show the concepts in a hierarchical way. The most general and inclusive concepts are placed at the beginning, followed by the linking words, that express the relations between the concepts. The reading of the relationship between two concepts, should result in a clause or phrase expressing an idea about the specific topic.


It shows the dependency relations between the ideas of a specific field. The data of a concept map can be moved to a hierarchy chart: the main topic is placed in the upper part, the sub-topics or supporting details (previously found in the boxes)  are placed in the second level; the details that support the sub-topics are placed in the third level, and so on and so forth.

These charts can be useful for the formative evaluation. These representations can be included in the tests, either in the form of items completion (presenting a diagram that needs to be completed in some way) or in the practice tests, in which the students could be asked to draw their own diagram.


The sequence diagram is an useful tool to represent a series of events that have a chronological order or to show the phases of a process.


This method provides a visual representation of analytical thinking, given that invites one to take a close look at the characteristics of a specific object. The main object is placed in the center, or axis of the wheel, and the main characteristics are written in the spokes of the wheel. The number of spokes can vary depending on the number of characteristics that define the object. The wheel can be drawn with a certain number of spokes and then tell the students to leave blank those that they canot fill.


A diagram is the simplified representation of a complex reality. Using it helps to understand, memorize and organize hierarchically the elements, relating them through conceptual links. It is a graphical and logical synthesis, that shows relationships and dependencies between primary and secondary concepts.

It is read from left to right. Once we get deeper into studying a topic and we have understood its meaning, we should create a diagram. This will allow us to access quickly the most significant aspects of the topic, suitably organized according to their importance.


This is a graphic organizer that shows in which way some pieces of information are related to their sub-cathegories. It provides a structure for the concepts and/or facts, created in a way that helps the students learn how to organize and priorize the information. The main concept is placed in the center of the spider map and the outward lines link it with other concepts that support details related to these concepts. The spider map is different from the Concept Map because it doesn’t include linking words that allow clauses between the concepts. It is also different from the mind map because the relationships are hierarchical. These charts are generally used for brainstorming, organizing information and analyzing the contents of a topic or story.


A comprehensive reading implies organizing the information in a way that allows the main ideas to stand out and let the person identify the existing relationships between the different pieces of information. I feel that, for the sake of clarity, it is important to define “idea” as noun that represents a thought or suggestion.

Various ways can be used to represent the information graphically: brainstorming charts, concept maps, diagrams, descriptive map, etc.

A good graphic organizer should inform not only about the relevant ideas, but also about the structure of the text, its construction, and the type of information it contains; whether it refers to descriptions, stories with a specific chronological order, to people with a causal role, or to generalizations accompanied by the corresponding examples, etc.

As long as the model used for the graphic representation is ordered, it facilitates, in the process of acquiring information, the efficient organization and storage of the data.

To create or develop the appropriate graphic organizer for the relational structure of the information of the text we need to work on, we can use as a reference one of the proposed models, or come up with a different one that we consider pertinent.

What’s the purpose of graphic organizers?

  • To compress the information
  • To get into focus the purpose of communication
  • To show the information collected
  • To show the information that still needs to be gathered
  • To locate the key concepts
  • To organize the information in a spatial way
  • To establish relations between ideas
  • To serve as mind maps

What do we need to plan a graphic organizer?

  • To determine the information to be included
  • To determine the information to be omitted
  • To choose a design format in accord with the content
  • To represent the relations between the ideas
  • To be able to express the essential content in the title


BRACE MAP: A synopsis is a summary of the main ideas of a text, exposed in an analytical way and organized in order to show the internal structure of the text. It is also possible to show through this diagram many texts that can be compared. Brace maps can be drawn through brackets which is the usual way, and in which the ideas are written as summaries or sections.

The brace or brackets map is the most appropriate one for those topics with many classifications and it has the advantage of being the most graphic of all, and therefore it facilitates the exercise of visual memory. The biggest disadvantage is that it puts all the text on the right side, making it necessary for the letters to be very small and making the text very compressed.

DIAGRAM: It is a graphic representation of a phenomenon, a fact, a piece of knowledge or a topic expressed through geometric figures. Due to its structure, a diagram facilitates the understanding and memorizing.

To create them, one needs to organize the concepts establishing the most number of relations. The main topic is placed on the middle and from there derive the divisions or secondary concepts. The diagram is used when a topic has secondary concepts that are related.

CONCEPT MAP: It is a graph of concepts that are related through truth values. The concept map is a working tool that helps dealing with concepts and representations. It helps expanding our knowledge on what we already know about a concept or topic; they are graphic representations with hierarchical structures that show how the clauses are related. Geometric figures such as ellipses are generally used to enclose the words or statements.

It is organized in hierarchical levels:


  • The first level represents the topic that will be summarized in the concept map,
  • The second level represents the definition
  • The third level represents the characteristics of the topic
  • The fourth level shows classifications
  • The fifth level shows examples

The basic elements are:

  • The Like regularities in the events or objects that are designed through a term. (Novak)
  • The Is the smallest semantic unit that posses a truth value. It consists of concepts and linking words.
  • The linking words. Words that link the concepts and express the type of relationship between them.

In the concept map, all these elements are related graphically, forming semantic chains, which have meaning.

It is essential to consider that there isn’t only one “right” concept map, the important are the relations between the concepts expressed through the linking words in order to form clauses that form a truth value about the studied object. Therefore, many truth values can be formed around a concept.

Short Guide on the History of Art (part two)


The artistic style of Early Christian art comprises the first five centuries of our era, from the beginning of Christianity to the invasion of the barbarian tribes. That is a crude way to say it, but I lacked a better word even after I searched this website.

In the Occident, Rome is the center and symbol of Christianity, because it was there that the primitive Christians, or early Christians, produced their first artistic works; both architecture and visual arts were to a great extent influenced by the Roman art. The early period of the history of Christianity, as well as that of Christian art, is divided into two distinct stages, separated by the Edict of Milan, issued by Emperor Constantine the Great in 313, which granted Christians the legal right to exercise their faith publicly.

This art is rich in symbolic and expressive meaning. The language is clear and simple so that the believers would understand. The first Christian paintings were obviously done in catacombs, usual gathering places for early Christians.



Art in the Middle Ages is divided in three periods:

Byzantine Art: Starting from the foundation of Constantinople in 330, to the Turkish conquest of 1453. Pictures were painted on flat panels, and they received the name of ‘icons’, the Greek word for ‘image’. First, the pictures portrayed martyr saints; later, they started to depict Jesus Christ and Mary.

Romanesque Art: From the 10th to the 12th century. Reminiscent of the Roman art, it symbolized power and sovereignty.

Gothic Art: The last medieval period, it developed throughout Europe. The paintings were very expressive and the background panels were usually painted in golden leaf.



This movement appeared in the Netherlands and unfolded in the Northern part of Europe in the 14th and the 15th centuries. Its paintings are characterized by bright colors, abundance of symbolic details and rich texture.

The most remarkable painters of the time are Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden and Jan Van Eyck.



The focal point of the Renaissance was in Italy. This is also divided in three periods:

The Trecento – 13th to 14th century.

Period of transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Giotto di BondoneLamentation (The Mourning of Christ) is an emotionally moving painting.

The Quattrocento – 15th century.

The significance of this period is given by renowned painters, such as Massaccio, Paolo Ucello, Fra Angélico, Sandro Botticelli and others.

BoticelliThe Birth of Venus (1478-1487)

MasaccioThe Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was the first nude picture, ever since the Greek art period.

The Cinquecento – the 16th century.

The time of the most outstanding painters: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Paolo Veronese and others. Art revived in Florence and Rome.

Leonardo Da VinciLa Gioconda (Mona Lisa) (1503-1507)

MichelangeloThe Creation of Adam (1511)

Raphael SanzioSistine Madonna (1512-1513)



1530-1600. Develops sophisticated and refined art, and also enlarges the figures, making them more dynamical.

El GrecoMater Dolorosa (1590?)



This art spread all around Europe. The main themes are religion, mythology and daily life, and the most striking aspect is the dynamism of the figures.

Italy: Guido Reni

France: Nicolás Poussin



The term ‘neoclassicism’ first occurred in the 19th century as a pejorative word used to describe the esthetic movement that reflected in arts the intellectual principles of the Enlightenment. This  movement had occurred in philosophy from the mid-18th century, and then it was trasmitted to all cultural fields.



This art rejects the neoclassical principles and adheres to the baroque values. Its themes are exotic, historical, Oriental or related to landscapes, and it generally uses warm and loose colors.



Was created by a Brotherhood composed of an association of English painters, poets and critics. It was founded in 1848 in London by John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. The Brotherhood lasted for only five years, but it influenced English painting until the beginning of the 20th century.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood : John Everett Millais (painter), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (painter and poet), William Holman Hunt (painter), William Michael Rossetti (critic), Thomas Woolner (sculptor and poet), James Collinson (painter) and Frederic George Stephens (critic).

Artists and personalities associated with the Brotherhood: Ford Madox Brown (painter and illustrator), Edward Burne-Jones (painter and illustrator), Arthur Hughes (painter), Jane Morris (model), William Morris (illustrator and architect), Christina Rossetti (poet), Elizabeth Siddal (painter, poet and model), John William Waterhouse (painter) and Thomas Cooper Gotch (painter).


Short Guide on the History of Art (from Prehistoric Art to Pre-Raphaelism)


This era is divided into two ages, each consisting of several periods, as follows:

  • The Stone Age:
    • Paleolithic: meaning ‘old stone’. It is divided in Lower (a period of exclusively carved stone using bifaces and flakes), Middle, or Older (flakes and burins), and Upper, or Late Paleolithic. Periods of warm weather allowed the development of a culture under the race of the Neanderthals. During Late Paleolithic, the climate turned glacial, and the people who ruled then were the Cro-Magnons. Reindeer were also replaced due to climate warming.
    • Mesolithic: This is the intermediate period between two ages.
    • Neolithic: Meaning ‘new, polished stone’.
    • The Metal Age has two main eras:
      • Bronze Age: from the 25th to the 9th century BC.
      • Iron Age: this age gas been divided into the Hallstatt  and the La Téne periods. While the former seems to have started in the 9th century BC, the latter ended in the 5th BC.

Prehistoric art is not described as a hobby or pastime, but this art recounts some events that have happened; it tells a story of past events. Moreover, it tells us that the main motifs of this art were sorcery, society, animals and, above all, hunting.

These weapons were made from either stones or animal bones. People used hammers also made of stone to make their weapons very sharp tips which would help kill the prey they wanted.


One of the characteristics of Ancient Egypt is its unique art, with monumental works that usually served served as a vehicle for funerary and religious symbolism.

Although the concept of art is rather modern, it is perfectly appropriate for use in Egyptian architecture, sculpture, painting and jewelry making, as many of the works are genuine pieces o art, not mere craftsmanship.

Because the climate of Egypt is dry and the artifacts were buried by the sand of the desert, (or by the owners of the objects, who wanted to also enjoy them in the “afterlife”), many original works of art have reached present times in an acceptable state of conservation, in spite of the wars, the use of monuments as quarries, or the countless times the temples and tombs have been looted.

Egyptian art touches some of the most beautiful themes; one of them is love of nature, and also family is also present in many sculptures.



Painting: had a strictly decorative purpose, and was used to embellish buildings. Lacks perspective and the use of color is very poor: white, blue and red are the dominating hues. As can be seen in decorative mosaics and tiles, it used the tempera painting technique. The main subjects were scenes of war and ritualistic sacrifices, painted in a very realistic manner. There also appear geometrical shapes, people, animals and monsters. Painting was used in home decoration as well. Shadows would not appear in the paintings.

Sculpture: involved life-size replicas of real beings. However, this realism blends with the artist’s subjective mark, who gives his work a symbolical meaning that lies beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. Sculpture is probably the artistic category in which the Mesopotamian world stands out in the most distinctive manner, with its principles, characters, and its way of transposing itself into art. The pattern is the following: hands crossed on the chest, shaved head, while the body is either nude or covered with a mantle. The thematic of Sumerian sculpture was inspired and influenced by the characters of a world dominated by power and religion, and Sumerian art became an expression of that world.

Painting: Mesopotamian art consisted mainly of mosaics.



Painting: All that is left from Greek painting are the names of a few artists; their painting abilities can be recognized only by their ceramic work. Although they did not use many colors, they managed to keep the harmony with just one color. The shades they used in their works were mainly red and black.

Sculpture: Greek sculpture is impossible to explain, but, without a doubt, it was greatly influenced by the Egyptian art. In contrast to Egyptian art, where figures were carved separately, Greek sculpture seemed more dynamic.



This art is divided into two periods:

The Republican period, when Rome became a republic.

The Imperial period, when Rome was a Military Empire.

Sculpture: Is different from Greek art in that Greeks used to carve statues of gods and heroes, while Romans sculpted their political and military leaders, giving them an air of divinity, but keeping true to reality.

Painting: Was more important than sculpture, as it offer the possibility to create images that better reflected reality. The pictures they created were mosaics and frescos.