G. Barandika, J.I. Beitia, M.L. Fidalgo, I. Ruiz-de-Larramendi

University of the Basque Country (SPAIN)
Preparing students to be good problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners has become a critically important educational goal in this twenty-first century. Because student-centered environments are typically problem-based, open-ended, and complex, different forms of scaffolding are needed for students and teachers to succeed in such environments. One form of support involves the use of technology as cognitive tools.

Cognitive tools are instruments that support or perform cognitive processes for learners in order to support learning. Jonassen and Reeves defined cognitive tools as "computer-based tools and learning environments that have been adapted or developed to function as intellectual partners with the learner in order to engage and facilitate critical thinking and higher-order learning". Therefore, cognitive tools can bridge the difference between open learning environments, like discovery learning environments and traditional supportive instructional environments.

Cognitive tools can be classified into four categories depending on their function:
(a) support cognitive and metacognitive processes, share cognitive load by providing support for lower level cognitive skills (so that resources are left for higher order thinking skills)
(b) allow learners to engage in cognitive activities that would be out of their reach otherwise, and
(c) allow learners to generate and test hypotheses in the context of problem-solving.

In this work, we study the adaptation of some cognitive tools to the self-learning of Chemistry for Pharmacy students. Cognitive tools include the use of laboratory equipment and calculus software to model through theory-based simulations the experiments carried out by the students.

The authors acknowledge the financial support of SAE/HALEZ (UPV/EHU) for a PIE2013-2015(6695) grant.

[1] Jonassen, D. H. and Reeves, T. C. (1996). Learning with technology: Using computers as cognitive tools. Handbook of research for educational communications and technology. D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), New York: Macmillan, pp. 693-719)
[2] Barandika G., Beitia J. I., Fidalgo M-L. and Ruiz-de-Larramendi I., (2015), Academic results derived from the implementation of an activity for Chemistry students in the Pharmacy grade : integration of room, laboratory and computer practice, Proceedings of INTED2015 Conference (ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7), 2nd-4th March 2015, Madrid, Spain, pp1537-1541.