Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance. (n.d.)


“Cognitive dissonance refers to the uncomfortable feeling that occurs when there is a conflict between one’s belief and behavior. This unsettling feeling brings about intense motivation to get rid of the inconsistency. An individual experiencing dissonance has three optional courses of action in order to minimize the dissonance: change the behavior, change the belief, or rationalize the behavior.”
Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger)

I am very sure that cognitive dissonance happens all the time in a classroom setting.  Especially classrooms in big cities with large population where there is more diversity.  I feel that it is more prevalent in adult education where people from all stripes converge to upgrade their skills.   People from different cultural background and religious beliefs; age differences; lifestyles; ethnicities; political leanings; geographical origins; among others.

While some classes may touch on subjects that are common with most in the classroom such as “How to make cookies” or “Troubleshooting an Automatic Transmission”, subjects that touched on topics that are more personal, cultural and political may caused people to disagree.   

Dr. Charles Donovan, Director of the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment at Imperial College, London, said that “China’s growing position as a leader in the international green finance market highlights the importance of tackling climate change and the role that governments and businesses need to play in boosting the global green economy. The talk provided us with an ideal opportunity to showcase the important work the Business School is doing to address these issues.” Singleton, L. (2018, February 22).  I read in many discussion forums where poster saying that it is impossible as China is the largest polluter in the world.  What these posters didn’t realize was that during the Industrial Revolution from the mid 1700s until the mid 1800s, all of the 20th century and most of the 21st century, the West was the largest polluter. By a huge margin.  In was only in 1st quarter of the 21st century, as China’s economy grew, China superseded the US and Western Europe as the largest polluter.  What Dr. Donovan said was factual but some people in the West refused to believe and viewed it as a propaganda..

People disagree because “error justification.” Many times people invest time and energy into something that turned out to be a big mistake. This reality causes great dissonance, and thus motivation to explain what occurred in a different way. Rather than accepting failure, people tend to justify their effort by saying it was fun, it was an important experience, or brush it off altogether by saying they didn’t really try.” Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger)

Leon Festinger, the founder of the Cognitive Dissonance theory said ” learners try to achieve consistency between their beliefs, opinions, and other cognitions. When an inconsistency occurs they will alter their behavior or attitude in order to reduce the “dissonance”. Festinger believed that this was one of the most powerful motivators, as learners want to avoid the discomfort, pressure, and tension that a dissonance can cause. In essence, when there are two behaviors, actions, or cognitions at war within their minds, learners are more likely to make meaningful change to remedy the issue and seek alignment. Pappas, C. (2018, March 20)

Pappas, C. (2018, March 20)

There may be ways to reduce Cognitive Dissonance in the classroom. One way is to underemphasize personal beliefs.  In classes where thought provoking discussions happen, use facts to disprove opinions and ideas.

When people disagree, the next progression is usually conflict.  Set ground rules to discourage conflicts.  Explain that the classroom is to learn and conflicting ideas and opinions give everyone the opportunity to learn.  Any disagreements can solved by finding out more about the topic by learning more from factual sources.  In some circumstances, actual sources can be bias, we can also use empirical data to prove points.

Every one is unique in her/his own experiences.  Disagreement is inevitable. I feel that in the classroom, an educator can help to create an environment where all the experiences can be positively harnessed to improve everyone’s belief and perceptions.

6 Golden Rules For Engaging Students




I like how Nicolas simplified the process of engaging students down to six rules.  Those rules made it easier for me to focus in on the important things.  Sort of focusing on the forest instead of getting mired amongst the trees.

There is a common theme in these six rules.  To let students learn in their own ways. Below are my own takes of these rules.  I felt that they gave me a general road map towards engaging students more effectively.

1: Make it meaningful

Let student troubleshoot themselves for ‘problem based problems”.  Ask students questions of their own perspective and experiences.


2: Foster a sense of competence

By making learning visible.  Through the own eyes of students and let them be their own teachers.  The author mentioned Gamification which I feel is an excellent method in so many ways.   By making learning visible, students will learn in their own unique ways which will result in a feeling of competency.


3: Provide autonomy support.

Let them self direct learning while providing checkpoints without sacrificing autonomy.


4: Embrace collaborative learning

Collaborative learning comes in many shape and forms.  To get meaningful collaboration, teachers must use a variety of resources and different types of collaborations to engage students.


5: Establish positive teacher-student relationships

Teachers can positively build a relationships with students by meeting students on their own terms.  Honesty, authenticity, vested interest and embracing each student’s uniqueness from teachers are key to building a positive teacher-student relationship.


6: Promote mastery orientations

By providing clear directions and goals, along with the five rules above, teachers can help students toward success.



Self Assessment



Midway Self Assessment


This course is probably one of the most important course in the PIDP program.  Engaging students is key to the success of effective teaching.   The online learning structure seems to be easy to follow while at the same time challenges me to seek out information and directions within it.  It is typical of any online learning resources as self-directed learning is after all based on self-direction, self-motivation and self-discovery.

Being stuck in the the midst of an intense period of multiple work related datelines, the expectations of this course, plus the importance of this course put additional sense of urgency for me to achieve better results.

Midway through the course, I feel that on certain areas, I did well and on some, I minimally participated, mainly due to time constraints.  On scheduled assignments like reflective writings, I was able to set a specific time, sit down and reflect on my learnings, particularly learnings from the required textbook.  Being more of an “IT guy”, I had little trouble setting up a blog rather quickly.  Reading and responding to other students’ blogs, there, I think I did it when only time allows. I don’t think I was as engaged as some of  my peers.

Reflective Writings

I feel that I was able to set time to reflect on my learnings.  By cross referencing my previous experience as a learner, I feel that I was able to effectively articulate my reflections on the concepts learned and potential future applications.   At the same time I feel I adhered to the technical requirements of the assignment.  For example, by using third party references, APA formatting and limited spelling and punctuation errors.

Marking Rubric: Level 3.5



I was able to set up my blog quickly and met the technical specifications.  I had experience creating WordPress sites before. This time, I used the free WordPress service which had limitations to what can be done and many WordPress plugins are not available which makes it rather frustrating for me.  I did learn to scale down my expectations and try to create a generic blog,  things that I can control such as graphics, colours and available plugins, I made full use of them.  The next time when I do a blog, I would just use my existing Web Host to host the WordPress site.  this way, it is be more effective and efficient.

I did post a few course related topics on the blog.  I should have posted more of my own thoughts about those topics since is a blog after all.

Marking Rubric: Level 3.  ( 3.5 for the technical aspects of the blog, 2-2.5 for the activities within the blog)

Discussion Forums

At first I was a little confused as to what to do.  After poking around Moodle, I finally figured it out.  I did post a few replies to other student’s discussions and started one on my of discussion thread.  I feel the activities within it are not as active as I would like.   I will continue to post more in depth replies to other threads while try to make mine more engaging.   Overall, I feel that the scattered resources can dilute instead of concentrate  discussions.

I feel my effort in this part of the course is somewhat mediocre and can be improved.

Marking Rubric: Level 2


I feel the need to gain momentum in order to get to the finish line with satisfaction.  I aim to participate more in discussion forums, get my own topic within the forum up to speed and engage other students to participate.

I also intend to improve my blog, technically and content wise.

Marking Rubric (Midway) : 3




Hot Dogs And Economics: How Great Teachers Guarantee Learning

Hot Dogs And Economics: How Great Teachers Guarantee Learning

“When I go to a baseball game, I can eat six, maybe seven hot dogs. I love hot dogs more than anything on Earth.”

This is the opening line from Mr. Hourigan, my high school Economics teacher. We’re learning the law of diminishing returns.

He goes on to explain how, though his love for brats runs deeper than human understanding, he starts to get tired of them after a while. Sure, each of those first three dogs make him happier and happier. Eventually, though, the next one isn’t quite as tasty as the last. After about six hot dogs, Mr. Hourigan hardly cares about hot dogs at all.

Admittedly, a strange comparison. Also a shockingly effective way to share a complex idea with a bunch of apathetic high schoolers.

The law of diminishing returns, put simply, describes how you can’t achieve endless efficiency in any system. More workers on a construction project won’t always make it finish faster. Speeding up an assembly line won’t guarantee you more widgets in an hour.

As a 17-year-old student, I didn’t care about construction projects or assembly lines. I didn’t care about hot dogs either, but I wasintimately familiar with them. I knew if I ate too many, I wouldn’t like them as much. And Mr. Hourigan knew that’s all I needed to understand to get the lesson.

He compared something I already understood to something I didn’t and, suddenly, I understood it, too. It’s called schema learning, and it’s a well-documented educational tool.

You’re (probably) not an economics teacher. What you are, though, is someone with important ideas that need to be communicated effectively. You want to educate people, and you want to lead them to make smart decisions.

So, it’s critical you understand how to communicate your ideas using schema learning because there is no better tool to not only educate someone quickly but also persuade them to make smart decisions and accept good advice.

Image courtesy of Gioia De Antoniis.
Image courtesy of Gioia De Antoniis.

The Simple Science Of Schemas

Let’s play a quick game. Say the word “cat” out loud. Now, say the next word that immediately comes to mind after cat. Do this two or three more times. Here’s what I came up with (strange it may be):

  1. Cat
  2. Cheetah
  3. Police
  4. Detention

What you’ve just done is an exercise in free association. Each word is, in some way, connected—at least in your brain—to the one before it.

I said “cheetah” because it’s a type of cat. I said “police” because cheetahs run fast and police are who I’ll deal with if I drive too fast. Police can put you in jail and that reminds me of my time in lock-up, aka “detention,” in high school.

Your brain builds all kinds of literal and abstract connections between the things you know and understand. There’s no single way from one part of your brain to another. The more distinct pieces of knowledge you have, the more opportunities you have to make connections to new ones.

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