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Cognitive controls are patterns of thinking that control an individual processing and utilisation of information. Jonasen and Grabowski see them as reflecting the cognitive abilities identified in intelligence research and underpinning more global cognitive styles in their hierarchy.
While global cognitive stylesare related to learner traits Santostefano, 1978 noted that cognitive controls
... have the status of intervening variables that define principles by which motoric behaviour, perception, memory and other basic quantitative forms of cognitive functioning are organised as an individual coordinates himself with his environment.
Jonassen (1978) listed the following features of cognitive controls:
- Cognitive dimension: The theory differentiates multiple cognitive dimensions of individual differences.
- Distinguishing goal: Cognitive control theory seeks to identify how cognitive mechanisms manage, regulate, and
adapt to environmental information, needs, and motives.
- Inference: The theory identifies situational requirements that activate each control.
- Theoretical base: Cognitive controls are based on the assumptions and propositions of psychoanalytic theory.
Cognitive controls include:
- Breadth of categorizing
- Cognitive complexity and cognitive simplicity
- Cognitive flexibility
- Conceptual tempo
- Field dependence and field independence
- Focal attention