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University of Wyoming

Jerome Bruner

1915 - present

Theory of Categorization

Jerome Bruner (1915 - ) had a great effect upon cognitive learning theory. Based upon the idea of categorization, Bruner's theory states

"To perceive is to categorize, to conceptualize is to categorize, to learn is to form categories, to make decisions is to categorize."

He maintained that people interpret the world in terms of its similarities and differences and suggested a coding system in which people have a hierarchical arrangement of related categories.

Each successively higher level of categories becomes more specific.

Bruner maintained that people interpret the world in terms of similarities and differences which are detected among objects and events. Objects that are viewed as similar are placed in the same category.

The major variable in his theory of learning is the coding system into which the learner organizes these categories. The act of categorizing is assumed to be involved in information processing and decision making. Bruner's theory of cognitive learning theory emphasizes the formation of these coding systems He believed that the systems facilitate transfer, enhance retention and increase problem solving and motivation.

He advocated the discovery oriented learning methods in schools which he believed helped students discover the relationships between categories.