Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Cognition
  • Concepts & Prototypes
  • Confirmation Bias
  • Functional Fixedness
  • Hindsight Bias
  • Obstacles to Problem Solving
  • Problem-solving Strategy
  • oss0152
  • oss01521
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Thinking - Course Map and Recommended Resources


    How to Use this Guide

    This guide provides information and resources on introducing the topic of thinking and cognition. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System (LMS) via the hyperlinks.


    Thinking is one of the smaller topics that make up cognitive psychology (along with perception, attention, intelligence, and memory). Faculty may want to first introduce Cognitive Psychology and discus how thinking fits into all the other areas.  This topic lends itself to several in-class activities to emphasize the different concepts. Faculty may also want to pair this section together with Intelligence and language development.

    Learning Objectives

    1. Define cognition
    2. Understand concepts and prototypes
    3. Explain some of the problem-solving strategies
    4. Explain obstacles to problem solving
      1. Define functional fixedness
      2. Define confirmation bias
      3. Define hindsight bias

    Cross Cutting Themes


    1. Explain how the way we create concepts could lead to stereotypes and discrimination
    2. How has the combination of the availability heuristic and terroristic acts affected perceptions of different cultural and religious groups?


    1. Do psychology students have an ethical obligation to share what they know about cognitive biases with friends and family?
    2. Discuss how some of the errors in thinking contribute to the beliefs of fake news

    Variations in Human Functioning

    1. Share examples of experts using intuition appropriately.
    2. Discuss ways psychology students can help the public understand some of the errors in thinking


    1. How has the combination of the availability heuristic and terroristic acts affected perceptions of different cultural and religious groups?
    2. Share examples of experts using intuition appropriately
    3. Discuss how cognition research is helping to build smart computer systems.
    4. Apply thinking principles to current political stories

    Recommended Resources

    Thinking and Intelligence, OpenStax Chapter 7 

    The Ohio OER has broken out thinking and intelligence as two separate topics, so this chapter could be used for either.  This is the best of the chapters that cover aspects of thinking.

    Accuracy and Inaccuracy in Memory and Cognition

    University of Minnesota Library Chapter 8, which covers both thinking and memory.  Faculty who use this chapter would have to focus on the sections that discuss aspects of thinking.   

    Categories and Concepts

    This is the chapter on Categories and Concept by Gregory Murphy within the NOBA project   

    Judgment and Decision Making

    This is the chapter on Judgement and Decision making by Max Bazerman within the NOBA project   

    Supplemental Resources

    Cognition: How Your Mind Can Amaze and Betray You (Video)

    Crash Course video #15 on thinking and aspects of thinking.     

    How I Hacked Online Dating (Video)

    How do we solve problems?  How can data help us to do this?  Follow Amy Webb’s story of how she used algorithms to help her find her way to true love. Closed captioning available.   

    10 Problems with How We Think

    Summary and examples of common cognitive biases.   

    The Science of Thinking (Video)

    This is a nice 12 minute video that discusses some of the common mistakes that are made in thinking.

    Brain Games - Functional Fixedness (Video)

    Great example of Functional Fixedness from Brain Games

    Why Do Our Brains Love Fake News? (Video)

    Confirmation bias and fake news   

    Brains Vs. Bias (Video)

    Crash Course video on different biases that are made in thinking   

    Class Activities

    Thinking, Language and Intelligence

    This resource is from Open Washington’s Module9: Thinking, Language, and Intelligence, and contains class discussion prompts, learning objectives and assignment ideas in a Google Docs folder     

    A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem Solving

    A problem solving test that can be done during the class time, with some discussion around the steps they took to solve the problem    

    Promoting Psychological Science

    This is from an E-book from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, called Promoting Psychological Science: A Compendium of Laboratory Exercises for Teachers of High School Psychology.  The Chapter on Cognition by Amy C. Fineburg & Suzanne C. Baker provide several in-class activities that could be used in this section.

    Astound Demonstrations

    A listing of classroom demonstrations from Tim Bender from Missouri State University.  Although most of the demonstrations are for memory, there are some that can be used in this section.   

    Why Facts Don't Convince People (and what you can do about it)

    A TEDed lesson on Why Facts Don't Convince People (and what you can do about it).  Students can view the TED talk and then take quiz questions on the material they watched.   

    Top Brain Teasers, Games and Illusions, for Teens and Adults of Any Age

    Description of brainteaser that can be done during class.  Students are instructed to think about how they are thinking about solving the problems.  They try to find patterns in how they go about their decision making.