The ICAP Framework: Linking Cognitive Engagement to Active Learning Outcomes

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1244 Scopus citations


This article describes the ICAP framework that defines cognitive engagement activities on the basis of students’ overt behaviors and proposes that engagement behaviors can be categorized and differentiated into one of four modes: Interactive, Constructive, Active, and Passive. The ICAP hypothesis predicts that as students become more engaged with the learning materials, from passive to active to constructive to interactive, their learning will increase. We suggest possible knowledge-change processes that support the ICAP hypothesis and address the limitations and caveats of the hypothesis. In addition, empirical validation for the hypothesis is provided by examining laboratory and classroom studies that focus on three specific engagement activities: note taking, concept mapping and self-explaining. We also consider how ICAP can be used as a tool for explaining discrepant findings, dictate the proper choice of a control condition, and evaluate students’ outputs. Finally, we briefly compare ICAP to existing theories of learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-243
Number of pages25
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 19 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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