Cognitive Flexibility Theory

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to restructure knowledge in multiple ways depending on the changing situational demands (i.e. difficulty or complexity of the situation) (Spiro, 1995). The major goal of cognitive flexibility is to help develop the learner’s ability to understand various situations (Graddy, 2001).

Our mind is flexible and can accommodate in different situations. Our mind has the ability to adapt to fit in new knowledge. The theory is concerned with transfer of knowledge and skills. The focus of this theory is on the nature of learners when learning complex and ill structured learning areas. Thus information should be presented using examples and preferably diverse case studies. This theory is built on constructivist theory; the learner must be given opportunity to develop their own representations of information in order to learn.

Cognitive flexibility theory emphasizes case analysis. However, the focus is on experiences in analyzing the aspects of the topic being discussed. It emphasizes looking at various components of an illustration and connectivity among important case elements. These aspects help develop a hypertext instructional environment. This type of interface allows the learner to progress from several levels of the material by starting/moving to any point in the thought process. Flexibility is developed in the hierarchical structure which focuses the learner to proceed in a linear fashion (Graddy, 2001)

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