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The two main ideas that are under study are, the social interaction of high school students during the learning process and the self-discipline of online students in the online learning process. The face to face interaction kind of learning environment and online learning have certain variances that are detrimental to students. On the other hand each kind of interaction is beneficial in its own special and specific way. This paper is focusing on the effects of these learning environments according to social development theory and contribution to cognitive development in education psychology. 

According to Piaget, social communication which is a component in social interaction plays a key role in educational activity. There are cognitive and sentimental benefits that come along as a result of the social bonds forged. Therefore, the online learning deprives a student the opportunity of creating new social bonds. Consequently due to lack of face to face interaction in the online learning setting, students may not relate with the course work fully which is important and fundamental to the process of acquiring knowledge and cognitive development.

Mixson-Brookshire, S. M. (2014). Enhancing Learning with Technology: Applying the Findings from a study of students online, Blended, Face to face first year seminar classes. 

The two ideas of face to face interaction and online learning are directly related to the cognitive theory of social interaction by Jean Piaget and Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s theory contributes to the fact that students should play an active role in the learning process. Therefore, for this to happen there has to be a social interaction. Students engaging in the online-learning process are assumed not to take an active role in the learning process according to Vygotsky’s theory. Learning is a reciprocal experience between the students and the teachers. The teacher should join forces with his or her students to ensure an interactive session of learning has been facilitated. This helps achieve the objective of the learning process which is the students understanding the course work. Additionally the social development theory highly supports the social interaction in the learning process. Furthermore, the social development theory states that social interaction to a great extent contributes to cognitive development (Mixson-Brookshire, 2014).

Students engaging in online studying get enough study content and have social interaction although it cannot be compared to face to face interaction. The online students are expected to practice a very high level of self-discipline. Since there are no teachers to give directions to the students, the students must have a discipline that once they are online, they restrict themselves to learning. The tendency to be online for a class and conduct a class is low as there are other many social platforms that take away the students’ attention from the learning sites. It is observed that most students who get online they engage in other tasks rather than learning. Therefore, face to face interaction is preferred to online learning. 

The social development theory to some extent is reflected in online learning as there are social sites students can engage in like skype and chatting rooms. Although they are not face to face, they give students the face to face impression hence cognitive development. With online learning, the examinations are not well supervised as the face to face interaction. Online learning students have many examination irregularities as there is no direct exam supervision. This leaves the teachers with perception that the traditional way of doing things is better than online learning.

In online learning the students communicate frequently with the instructors rather than their fellow students, this explains the lack of interest of students to participate in board discussions. An important aspect of learning is communication of the course expectation. In both models of learning the course expectation is communicated. This enables the learners to understand what is expected of them. Thus, before the lessons begin the students are well aware of what they are to cover and what they should have attained at the end of the course work. The interaction in the online learning environment can be improved by blending online activities, assignments, and formats. This results to a meaningful engagement hence promoting the learning process.

Unlike face to face interaction, in online learning in case of a challenging topic the teachers can update videos weekly and conduct office hours virtually. This additional material assists in clarifying challenging ideas or topics that were presented in a course material. In face to face, there is clarification and one on one consultation with the teachers. This is an advantage since the students understand well though it is difficult to consult during non-working hours. 

Jeane, J. (2012). What is the importane of Educational Psychology to Teachers? Retrieved from Preserve articles:

There are barriers that come along with technology, lack of electrification or power failure due rationing, and internet failure. These factors act as barriers to online learning. There is also an assumption that the teachers could make that all their students have access to the internet. Therefore, the teachers give them little information concerning the coursework as they assume that they can google and get the information. Consequently, the students would get differing information hence a disparity in understanding the coursework. The teacher’s delivery is wanting due to the assumption (Jeane, 2012). 

In an online setting, if students practice discipline they have an excellent opportunity to download their own videos and creating their presentations virtually. This assists students to enhance their skills and to use the new skills as learned in class. An opportunity to conduct group discussions around case studies, including those that bring out ethical dilemmas enables the students to apply the information learned in class.

Spears, L. R. (2012). Social Presence, Social Interaction, Collaborative learning, and satisfaction in online and face to face courses. Lowa State University, 5-8.

The reflective part of learning greatly contributes to cognitive development due to social interaction. A deeper and personal connection to the course content is facilitated by discussions. These discussions are held among the students who participate in reflection to understand comprehensively what was taught in class. This is also an opportunity for peer to peer feedbacks and reviews of projects or assignments. In these discussions the students are able to relate their personal experiences to the class work. The variety of experiences enables the students to fully identify with the course work hence understanding well (Spears, 2012).

Summary Paragraphs

The research learning tools are face to face and online learning techniques. This includes the benefits and detriments of each of the techniques and areas of improvement. The intended audience are students in both face to face and online learning setting and the teachers or instructors involved. The function of this research will help the teachers and students to understand and embrace their roles in each learning setting. 

From the research, the learners are made aware of the contribution the learning process contributes to cognitive development through social interaction. Teachers and students learn better ways of enhancing and attaining social interaction which contributes to cognitive development. The teacher will be in position to observe the abilities, intelligence, needs, interests and different communication techniques are adopted. Since in educational psychology practices and theories of learning and teaching have been emphasized, the teachers have no option than to concentrate on the facts that contribute to educational psychology theories.


Goulding, B. I. (2009). Maximising social interactions and effectiveness within distance learning courses: cases from construction. Journal for Education for the built environment, 75-99.

Jeane, J. (2012). What is the importane of Educational Psychology to Teachers? Retrieved from Preserve articles:

McNary, L. S. (2011). Journal of Interactive online learning. Understanding students’ interaction:Analysis of Discussion Board postings, 1-14.

Mixson-Brookshire, S. M. (2014). Enhancing Learning with Technology: Applying the Findings from a study of students online, Blended, Face to face first year seminar classes. 

Spears, L. R. (2012). Social Presence, Social Interaction, Collaborative learning, and satisfaction in online and face to face courses. Lowa State University, 5-8.

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