Cognitive Development and Learning: Analyzing the Building of Skills in Classrooms


Marc Schwartz, 701 planetarium place, College of Education, University of Texas, Arlington; TX 76019; e-mail:


This article explores the unique and personal experience of learning within a broader framework of development called skill theory. The framework offers a perspective for recognizing within a diversity of experiences a stable order of increasing complexity in skills that individuals display as they execute or demonstrate changes in their understanding. This order is described in terms of a scale, or ruler, that quantifies across domains the achievement of greater levels of complexity in ability. In particular, we explore the process adults follow as they attempt to understand and apply ideas from science and leadership to allow the reader to witness how individual experiences can map onto a “universal” scale of learning and development.