The Cognition Toolbox (2009-2012)

Implementing Cognitive Principles and Assessing Student Learning in College Courses 

2009-2012 Cognition Toolbox Project Overview
Click to download poster (PDF)
ASLE 2014 Book Cover: Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum
Download E-book (p. 194-205)


Applying the science of learning: The cognition toolbox

Victor A. Benassi, Elizabeth M. Tappin, Catherine E. Overson, Michael J. Lee, Edward J. O'Brien, Barbara Prudhomme White (University of New Hampshire)

Jennifer J. Stiegler-Balfour (University of New England)

Christopher M. Hakala (Western New England University)


Project Dissemination (click + for details)

Between 2007-2009, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has been developing and pilot testing a new approach to meet its primary goal: assisting faculty in improving student learning and retention of course material and facilitating the utilization of teaching and learning strategies that promote the transfer of what is learned to new situations. This new approach, The Cognition Toolbox, is characterized by a set of strategies by which faculty implement one or more “cognitive tools” in courses they are currently (or will be) teaching.

This new approach to improving student learning differs dramatically from the standard approach found in many other teaching and learning centers. Most teaching and learning centers rely on workshops, seminars, talks, and/or “bag lunch” sessions in which faculty are provided information and examples about pedagogical methods and techniques (e.g., “how to” sessions on using PowerPoint, incorporating writing into courses, techniques for facilitating active learning, etc.) We plan to meet with individual instructors; assess exactly what “cognitive tools” are likely to work in a specific course; devise a plan for the implementation of the recommended cognitive tools; provide assistance in the integration of the recommended cognitive tools into courses; develop outcome measures to assess the unique impact of incorporated cognitive tools on student learning.

Pyburn, D. T., Pazicni, S., Benassi, V. A., & Tappin, E. M. (2014). The Testing Effect: An Intervention on Behalf of Low-Skilled Comprehenders in General Chemistry. Journal Of Chemical Education91(12), 2045-2057.

Stiegler-Balfour, J. J., & Benassi, V. A. (2015). Guiding questions promote learning of expository text for less-skilled readers. Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning In Psychology1(4), 312-325. doi:10.1037/stl0000044

Collins, D.P, Rasco, D., & Benassi, V.A. (2018). Does Deeper Processing on Quizzes Benefit Exam Performance? Teaching of Psychology, 45 (3), 235-238.

Victor Benassi talks about fostering higher-order learning outcomes in Graduate education.


Fostering Higher-Order Learning Outcomes in Graduate Education

U.S. Naval War College
YouTube: 55 min.
August 9, 2017
Presenter: Dr. Victor Benassi

If you would like additional information on the Cognition Toolbox grant, please contact

Davis Educational Foundation
The Cognition Toolbox is made possible by a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation (Yarmouth, Maine). The Foundation was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis's retirement as chairman of Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.