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What is the Situated Cognition Theory?

What is the Situated Cognition Theory?

Course: ma education

1 Answer

The Situated cognition Theory.

Situated cognition is a theory of instruction that suggests learning is naturally tied to authentic activity, context, and culture. It is more difficult to learn from unnatural activities. For example, learning your first language or a foreign language by immersion is widely held to be easier than learning languages from textbooks and vocabulary lists. The theory of situated cognition claims that every human thought is adapted to the environment, that is, situated, because what people perceive, how they conceive of their activity, and what they physically do develop together. Knowledge as lived practices must be understood in relation to the social aspect as well as the individual aspect.

Situated cognition has its origin in the research studies where researchers have studied common people as to how they make sense of their surroundings, how they learn, solve problems, attain complex understanding, or acquire complex skills living in a community. Situated cognition approach comes from studies in informal situation rather than formal situation. By studying cognition in real life it tries to come up with a theory for education where children acquire various skills naturally in the way a child grows in a community tacitly acquiring the norms, beliefs and skills of the community.


Situated cognition starts from everyday practices to come up with the theory. Thus situated cognition view is often defined as “enculturation,” or adoption of the norms, behaviour, skills, beliefs. language, and attitudes of a particular community. The community might be mathematicians or gang members or readers or teachers or students any group that has a particular way of thinking and doing.

Learning and its Scope:

Thus, situated cognition is a shift from traditional theories; which is not related with the cognitive structure embedded in specific context a shift in learning theories from individual towards a social orientation, acknowledging that learning is always situated in a context. The idea of situated learning explains learning to be a social practice that must be understood through the ever present relationships between participants, activity, and environment.

Emergence of Situated Cognition Approach.

Cartesian philosophy assumes a fundamental division in the aspects of human behaviour. It is the assumption that the mind is isolated from the world. The Cartesian dualism has been prevalent in psychology of learning theories virtually since their inception. For example in Behaviorism, learning theories give importance to the environment and negate the role of mind. Cognitive theories are primary focused on the mind of individual situated approach to cognition rejects dualism of all kinds.

Situated cognition approach has its origins in diverse fields, including:
  • Sociology of knowledge (Marx, Durkheim, Mannheim)
  • Functionalism (anti-associations) (Dewey, Bartlett)
  • Activity theory (Vygotsky, Leontiev, Luria, Cole, Wertsch)
  • Cybernetics and system theory (Bateson, von Foerster)
  • Ethno methodology (Garfinkel)
  • Ecological psychology (Gibson, Jenkins, Bransford, Neisser, Barker)
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Everyday Cognition

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December 4, 2018