EjSBS - The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences

The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences

Online ISSN: 2301-2218
European Publisher

Cognitive and Sociocultural Perspectives: Approaches and Implications for Learning, Teaching and Assessment


The primary role of educators is to best serve and support students’ learning. To this end, the epistemological beliefs they hold are immensely influential, governing (both explicitly and implicitly) educators’ assumptions about how students learn, which determines the curriculum design and instructional methods utilized to support that learning. Over the years, two prominent and influential epistemological theories have developed – the cognitive perspective, which focuses on learners’ mental processes, and the sociocultural perspective, which focuses on learners’ participation in social practices within a particular context – with each providing their own unique contributions to the field of education. Using the example of the learning goal of students’ mastery of English for passing the TOEFL, the purpose of this paper is to explore how these two perspectives view knowing and learning, and the implications of this for motivating engagement and assessing learning. By drawing on and utilizing a synthesis of the cognitive and sociocultural perspectives, educators can align their learning outcomes with the most pedagogically-appropriate approach possible, to best support overall student learning and academic success.

Keywords: Cognitive theorysociocultural theorylearning and teachingTOEFLmotivationassessment

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

About this article

Published online: 30.08.2021
Pages: 217-235
Publisher: European Publisher
In: Volume 30, Issue 3
DOI: 10.15405/ejsbs.301
Online ISSN: 2301-2218
Article Type: Original Research
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