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Cognitive Studies in Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Cognitive Studies in Education

In the Department of Human Development

About > About the Program

About the Program

In Cognitive Studies in Education, students examine the cognitive mechanisms that underlie learning and thinking in school and non-school settings. The program trains students in basic theories of human cognition, the practice and interpretation of empirical cognitive and developmental research, and how to use research to improve educational practices and develop innovative methods built around new technologies. Studies in cognitive, developmental and educational psychology, and computer science provide students with a valuable perspective on cognition and learning.

The curriculum and program requirements are designed to prepare graduates for careers in several possible settings. For the master's programs, these settings include:

  • Publishers and software companies looking for people with knowledge of cognition and development and experience in instructional design.
  • Research organizations seeking people to conduct basic research and work on instructional applications of computers and related technologies.

For the doctoral programs, work settings after graduation might include: research organizations or universities seeking faculty in cognitive psychology, educational psychology, educational technology, and reading.

Students in the Cognitive Studies in Education Program begin by taking a set of core background courses, then pursue one of six areas of focus: Cognition and Learning, Intelligent Technologies, Reading Research, Cognitive Studies of Educational Practice, Creativity and Cognition, or Learning Analytics. Students beyond the M.A. level take more advanced courses, including a statistics sequence.

In addition, students register for research practicum seminars during which they complete a substantive project as a culminating experience for that degree. Choice of advanced courses and research seminars should be shaped by the students' area of focus, as described below. Students whose interests do not fit one of these tracks may design their own area of focus in consultation with their advisor.

  • Cognition and Learning: The area of focus in Cognition and Learning is designed for students interested in theories of human cognition and learning, and experimental approaches to learning, memory, language, reasoning, and problem solving. The culminating experience for master's students in this concentration is to conduct an empirical research study in the area of cognition or learning.
  • Intelligent Technologies: The Intelligent Technologies area of focus offers a program of study for students whose interests include developing cognitive science-based theoretical frameworks for informing the design of educational technology, as well as for students wishing to create educational applications that serve as test beds for such theoretical frameworks. By offering this area of focus, the Program in Cognitive Studies in Education recognizes the importance of computational and allied technologies to both guide and be guided by cognitive research. Many of the courses in this area of focus are cross-listed with the programs in Communication, Computing, and Instructional Technology in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology. As a culminating experience, master's students in this area of focus create and evaluate an educational technology application.
  • Reading Research: This area of focus prepares students to do basic research in reading and theory on all aspects of the psychology of reading, (e.g., basic skills, comprehension, and aesthetic response) in order to improve educational practice. Students address the connections between written and oral language and between reading and writing skills. Individual differences are also addressed, especially with respect to students with learning disabilities, adult literacy, learning from text and educational policy issues. The culminating experience for master's students is an empirical study in the area of reading.
  • Cognitive Studies of Educational Practice: This area of focus is for students interested in understanding and facilitating the thinking and learning involved in educational activities. Students will learn about cognitive processes involved in both formal and informal education and how they are influenced by various factors, including classroom structure, teacher belief systems, student motivation, and educational policy. The focus on understanding cognitive processes and development is designed to help prospective and practicing teachers and other educators improve educational practice. The culminating experience for master's students is an empirical study of cognition in a classroom setting.
  • Creativity and Cognition: Focusing on the importance, development, and influence of creativity, Creativity and Cognition is designed for those interested in creative problem solving and multi-modal thinking as it affects the classroom, curriculum development, community organizations, therapeutic settings, and business. The culminating experience for master's students is an empirical study in the area of creativity.
  • Learning Analytics: This area of focus is for students interested in the analysis of large-scale educational data. In this area of focus, you will learn key learning analytics methodologies in technical detail, and learn how to apply them to real-world problems. You will learn how to use algorithms and tools appropriately and effectively, and learn about relevant policy, legal, and ethical issues involved in conducting analytics on educational data. The culminating experience for master's students is an empirical analysis of educational data using analytics methods. For more information on this area of focus, see http://www.columbia.edu/~rsb2162/lak-concentration.html
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