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Student Cognitive Activity: A Modern View of the Problem

Student Cognitive Activity: A Modern View of the Problem
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The debate on whether students should have activities focused on stimulating cognitive skills lasts for years. While some believe a cognitive activity is pointless, others say that it is a way of getting children’s minds prepared for the world. By working on their problem-solving, decision-making, and similar skills, these tasks get them ready for life.

Is there a purpose for implementing cognitive activities in your classroom? Here is a modern view of the problem and how children can benefit from these tasks!

What Is the Goal of Cognitive Learning Activities?

The idea is to create a setting where the participants will apply their investigation, creativity, logic, and related skills to solve a problem or provide an answer to the topic. The exact method might vary, which gives you plenty of options to design a task suitable for your group.

Scientific research supports the claim that cognitive activities can be fruitful for the children. The Early Childhood Research Quarterly published a study with 840 children of different age groups from ten months to six years old. The authors showed that cognitive and creative play activities could affect children’s mental skills. It indicates that this approach is far more than a theory.

Main Objectives of Cognitive Learning

While you should prepare the tasks depending on the teaching level, the goals always remain the same. Here is an overview of what you can achieve with cognitive activities and how to tailor them to your students.


The idea is to trigger a person’s memory. It can be excellent to see if the students remember things from previous classes. Forget about the classic Q&A session and ask the children to write a paragraph on the last lesson’s most crucial info. They are welcome to write whatever they remember. 

If you are teaching history, you can ask them to place events chronologically. You don’t have to insist on the exact time when a particular battle occurred; it is all about triggering the brain to put them in the right order.

Comprehending the Problem

It’s hard to be a professor in modern times. You aren’t even sure that the children are listening, let alone understand what you are talking about. That is why you can trigger their brain to look at the information from a different angle.

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For example, inspire them to have a debate on the topic. If you are a sociology teacher, focus on the current trends. Ask one student to defend social networks and another one to criticize them. They should be free to present arguments because the idea is to make them think.

Problem Solving

How do you solve a problem when you face it in real life? The approach is always similar – you analyze the issue and rely on what you know to solve it. Professors might think of a problem in advance and present it on the board. The students have a limited time to offer a solution using the knowledge and skills they’ve obtained so far. 

Evaluation Skills

Children should learn how to analyze what they already know and make informed decisions based on that data. That can help them to develop a smart approach to decision making later in life.

You can ask the students to analyze a particular problem or decision by making a pros and cons list. That learning method can reveal them how to weigh their options and pick the right one. Depending on the topic discussed, you can ask the participants to develop a graph to show information in an understandable way or develop a questionnaire to organize the data available.


Creative tasks give you a large amount of freedom at every level – from primary school to college. The idea is to nurture the students’ creativity and to deliver original ideas for resolving problems. 

Here are some cognitive activity suggestions that focus on creativity:

  • Ask the students to write a poem about a particular topic
  • Prepare a task to prepare instructions for someone who is using a specific product/service/method for the first time
  • Write a short story or essay that discusses a specific problem (world hunger, the pandemic, an issue related to the current lesson, etc.)
  • Prepare a scenario to use as a speech to demonstrate an idea


Student cognitive activities can be helpful at all education levels. Whether you are a professor at a university or working with first-graders, these tasks can bring results. It is nice to see that more teachers around the world are accepting this approach and using it in classrooms. Focusing on these tasks doesn’t only nurture the children’s mental skills. It also keeps them interested because they find the activities fun and exciting.

About the Author

Annabelle Gratwick is a blogger working for Edusson.com. She is an expert in education and has years of experience tutoring students of various levels. Annabelle has numerous publications in relevant journals and loves blogging about education.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.