The Role and Status of Cognitive Theory in Nursing Education


Hossein Karimi Moonaghi 1 , Roghayeh Zardosht 2 , *

1 Ph.D. in Nursing, Associate Professor, Evidence- Based Caring Research Center, Department of Medical- Surgical Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran, Iran

2 Ph.D. Student of Nursing, Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran, Iran

How to Cite: Karimi Moonaghi H , Zardosht R . The Role and Status of Cognitive Theory in Nursing Education, Strides Dev Med Educ. 2015 ; 12(1):e59725.


Strides in Development of Medical Education: 12 (1); e59725
Published Online: January 28, 2015
Article Type: Editorial
Received: August 08, 2017
Accepted: September 22, 2014




Background & Objective: Learning theories focus on individuals’ way of learning. Cognitive learning theory emphasizes the importance of the internal process of the learner and includes several known prospects such as Gestalt, data processing or information processing, meaningful learning, concept mapping, exploration methods, self-efficacy, and self-regulation. Each of these perspectives emphasizes a specific aspect of cognition. Limited information exists on the processes and approaches used by nursing students in learning. The present research was conducted in order to determine the role of cognitive theory in nursing education.
Methods: In this study, library and search databases [Medline, Google Scholar, Scientific information database (SID), and Magiran] were search using the keywords learning theory, cognitive theory, and nursing education. All literature published from 2000 to 2013 were selected. Subsequently, each approach to this theory in nursing education was studied. 
Results: The key principles of Gestalt in connection with the care and education of patients, include mental organization towards simplicity, balance and discipline guided by the patient's desire, and a simple and clear description of the illness. Application of information processing theory in nursing education consists of compliance of occupation with mindset, and acceptance of and respect for different ways of thinking among people working in the health care environment. Concept mapping is a metacognitive strategy for training nursing students on learning methods and exploration method is the factor which increases the confidence of nurses. Self-efficacy emphasizes the importance of acquisition and application of knowledge, and development and improvement of scientific and professional skills. Moreover, nursing students with greater achievements are learners who show self-regulation.
Conclusion: In the 21st century, nursing has undergone numerous changes and nurses are forced to deal with patients with a wider range of pathologies, and chronic and underlying diseases. For satisfactory performance in such an educational environment, nurses require cognitive and metacognitive skills. Educational applications of social cognitive learning theory in nursing include model orientation, teaching new behaviors and skills, encouraging previously learned behaviors directly and indirectly, teaching of the prevention of chronic diseases, increasing patients’ independence and effectiveness. This study provided valuable knowledge on cognitive theory in nursing education. Thus, the introduction, application, and study of this theory in nursing education are recommended.


Nursing education Social cognitive theory Learning theory

© 2015, Medical Education Development Center. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.



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