Cognitive integration is an education design principle rooted in cognitive psychology that aims to create a mental connection between different types of knowledge, emphasizing integrating procedural and conceptual knowledge. Procedural knowledge is the how of a task - what steps need to be carried out and the capacity to complete them. Conceptual knowledge is the why of a task - why it needs to be done, and why each step is necessary. Research demonstrates that integrating procedural and conceptual knowledge can improve both the learning of the material and being better able to apply it in new situations. Examples within healthcare might include learning the steps to a medical procedure (e.g. lumbar puncture). Knowledge of both how it is done (procedural) and why it is done (conceptual) can help the healthcare provider complete the procedure safely and effectively and improve retention and transfer to other skills and new scenarios.
Kulasegaram, Kulamakan Mahan; Martimianakis, Maria Athina PhD; Mylopoulos, Maria PhD; Whitehead, Cynthia R. MD, PhD; Woods, Nicole N. PhD. Cognition Before Curriculum: Rethinking the Integration of Basic Science and Clinical Learning. Academic Medicine: October 2013 - Volume 88 - Issue 10 - p 1578-1585 doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a45def