The difference between cognitive and behaviorist perspectives is that behaviorists look only at the outside behaviors of the person while cognitive looks at how the brain works. Cognitive goes in depth on how the brain works such as memory, psycho motor movement, etc… One of the main theorists in this theory is Jean Piaget. He hypothesized that we develop in stages and that what we learned would come in predetermined stages. He studied the mind and how we use different learning strategies to process and store information in our unconscious. While behaviorists look at what we do as humans and what causes to do it in our environments. This theory looks more at the conscious side of our brains. A good definition on found on YouTube in a video titled Cognitive vs Behavioral Psychology ( is “…A behaviorist views it as a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. (Willingham, 2007).” What it means is that it only observes actual human behavior to predict and control what a person does.

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(Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky)

Applying these two theories to students in school today allows teachers different methods so they can help all students achieve a high level of success. Some students might use more processes and adapt to the environment to absorb information quickly and be able to repeat it. Other students might rely more on different learning strategies so they can use their skills in the unconscious to learn material.

Some limitations of cognitive theory are that you do not know exactly what the person is thinking and we do not have a way to confirm it, we can not physically see what is happening so their is no proof for the hypothesis. Some limitations of behavioral theory are people not respond the same to certain stimuli so you can not accurately predict what they are going to do. Their past experience may give you a different result.

I think I as a teacher would be more in the middle since I would try to teach both ways in order to see how a student would react to a stimuli. As a physical education teacher, I could use behaviorism to see how students would react to different sports like soccer, softball, basketball, etc… and then see what strategies of teaching would be most appropriate to increase their skill in that area.

I would compare myself more to the cognitive theory because I would use prior knowledge to help my understanding like find an example of a topic in my everyday life. But in regards to physical education I also see a lot of behaviorist because a few of my past teachers used this method so I see it in a different way.

I will use this knowledge in my future career to help students with different learning styles acquire the same basic knowledge for all sports and compare them to everyday tasks that we do in order to survive and correctly process the information.


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