Three Theories of Cognitive Representation and Criteria for Evaluating Training Effects

W. Tomic, J. Kingma

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The development of cognitive representation is the main theme of the three classic theories on how children learn new concepts (Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky). However, these theories do not agree on evaluation standards for training effectiveness. According to Piaget, it is only when stringent criteria for evaluating training effects are met, i.e. when the child can solve a wide range of transfer problems after training, and when the results of training are durable, that one can conclude that the child’s representation has changed. Many American training studies deal with rather specific training effects with only minor transfer. Moreover, these studies do not investigate the duration of the effect, making it impossible to conclude that representation changes through training. The training method developed by Obuchova (1966) maintains the same criteria used by Piaget. Replications of training studies using Obuchova’s method have shown that cognitive representation does change. The outcomes of training studies conducted by different theoretical schools clarify that one can only examine whether and to what extent cognitive representation is changed when stringent criteria are used to assess the effect of training.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-35
    Number of pages21
    JournalEducational Practice and Theory
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


    • cognitive representation; evaluating training effects; range of transfer


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