CRESST learning model

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The CRESST learning model has been proposed by Baker (1995) of the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standard, and Student Testing (CRESST) to describe “the range of cognitive learning in which students engage”. The "cognitive types of learning" are a composite of taxomomies and theories from by Gagné, Merrill and others.

Five families are used to describe the kinds of learning that can take place.

Content-specific activities:

  • Content understanding - learning of domain specific material. Activities may include student explanations, concept map builiding.
  • Problem solving - processes and strategies engaged to acheive a goal that has no apparent solution, including the trasfer of content-understanding and use of metacognition to the resolution of an unfamiliar problem.

Content-independent activities:

  • Collaboration - learning to work with others, acquiring interpersonal skills, including teamwork (group performance on task) and taskwork (individuals' effectiveness within the group) (Morgan, Salas, & Glickman, 1993)
  • Communication - learning to express thoughts and ideas effectively, written and/or verbally within the content domain (use appropriate terminology to explain content.
  • Metacognition - learning to regulate one's cognitive activity through awareness, knowledge of cognitive strategies, planning and self-monitoring.

CRESST publishes handbooks for creating assessment materials to assess performance in each of these families. The handbook for assessing content understanding is available as a free sample (PDF).

CRESST is also proposed as a method to analyse the cognitive demands of a technology by evaluating the extent to which each family of learning is activated through the use of a particular technology (Baker, O'Neil, & Klien, 1998).



  • Baker, E.L. (1995), Finding our way. Presentation at the annual conference for the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standard, and Student Testing (CRESST), University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Baker, E.L. , O'Neil, H.F., & Klien, D.C.D. (1998), A Cognitive Demands Analysis of Innovative Technologies, CSE Technical Report 454, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standard, and Student Testing (CRESST), UCLA.
  • Morgan, B.B, Jr., Salas, E., & Glickman, A.S. (1993). An analysis of team evolution and maturation. Journal of General Psychology, 120, 277-291.