Unlock A New Level Of Critical Thinking With Citelighter’s New ‘Cognitive Prints’

citelighter_logoDo you guys remember Citelighter? We wrote about them last fall when they launched a massive global learning database with their browser extension citation tool. We thought it was awesome that they made a tool that made it easy to create a bibliography using the resources you used on the web. The tool makes it easy to compile information as they research and put it into their papers, and it even offers a level of plagiarism protection so that students aren’t just copying and pasting off of websites. Users can even search their database of knowledge cards on specific subjects, which link you back to relevant material, and Pro account holders have access to millions of articles in the Questia library (newspapers, magazines, peer reviewed journals, transcripts, reference materials, etc) to aid in research.

Today, they’re announcing that they’ve done something even cooler.

New Tool Analyzes Your Critical Thinking Process

Citelighter announced this morning that they’ve created a platform geared specifically towards teachers to help them hone in on the cognitive process of their students. The teacher platform builds off of the existing student platform, and uses the information students input to analyze their critical thinking process.

citelighter cognitive prints

Citelighter has conducted ethnographic studies into the research and writing behaviors of students to understand their natural digital processes. Rather than recreating the wheel, we decided to create a tool that mimics students’ natural behaviors, and incorporates valuable structural components as a way to subtly reinforce best practices and encourage original thought. The steps a student goes through when using Citelighter, while also making the research and writing process more efficient for them, force a student to engage with the content in a meaningful way, and accelerates their abilities to draw conclusions. These simple functions include the comment box (where students can paraphrase and add original thoughts to the content they find), the ability to drag and drop facts into a logical outline, and the ability to reference one’s organized thoughts and comments directly within a Google Doc, in what they call the Citelighter Clipboard.

The Cognitive Print

When you put together the information from this process, it forms what they’ve termed a Cognitive Print, which- in a nutshell – is a personalized fingerprint of each student’s cognitive process. Cognitive prints are a real time, color-coded, sequential task analysis of the steps that a student takes as they complete their research and writing assignment. It can offer a new depth of insight into why a student may be performing exceptionally well (or not), and can help them to guide each student in a better direction.

citelighter cognitive prints

Color-coded cognitive prints offer a visual view of different students’ processes and the corresponding letter grade.

Pretty awesome, right? For this endeavor, Citelighter has won a number of different awards, and they’ve partnered with the National Writing Project as well.

“The National Writing Project is excited to partner with Citelighter to engage teachers in exploring how this tool supports the development of student writers.” Tanya Baker, Director of National Programs at the National Writing Project.


  • June 2012 – Milken Penn – 1st Place for Best Use of Open Resources
  • June 2012 – Milken Penn – 1st Place for Best Online Innovation
  • Jan 2013 – New Media Consortium – Best Education Start-Up
  • March 2013 – SIIA – 1st Place Educators Choice
  • March 2013 – SIIA – 2nd Place Most Innovative
  • May 2013 – ISTE – 3rd Place Best Ed-tech Start-Up

How Cognitive Prints Work

citelighter-printBoth teachers and students can get a lot out of using these cognitive prints.

When a student looks at their own cognitive print, it can help them to understand how they are completing a process, and offers them a visual representation of their research and writing habits. It helps them not only to begin thinking about how they think, but encourages self reflection about their time management and planning skills.

Cognitive prints give teachers an in-depth, personalized look at each student’s work process. Since Citelighter gives them the ability to see a log of every action their students take as they research, comment, paraphrase, organize content, and write, they don’t need to waste time trying to diagnose any particular students’ difficulties. The teacher and student can work together to put a more efficient process in place for each student.

The teacher tools have a few additional offerings:

  • A dashboard to see how all students are performing at any one time.
  • The ability to view individual students’ projects (i.e. what kind of content they are capturing, how they are organizing it, how they are thinking through it).
  • The ability to share students’ assignments (between teacher and student) in Google Docs.

The Edudemic Promo Code

Want a promo code? Who wouldn’t? Just use the code iheartedudemic on Citelighter – a special thanks for reading the whole way down this article!

What Teachers Have To Say

In creating this tool, Citelighter put together a substantial pilot program. With teachers of mostly middle and high school students, they went to work putting the tool to use in real life classrooms. Here is what a couple of teachers have had to say about the new tool:

“The cognitive print is a rare window into the way my students work when they are not in my classroom. I can tailor my lessons to respond to patterns in the whole class data. But the biggest advantage for me is the way the cognitive prints make conferencing with individual students more productive. Now I can start by saying, “I noticed you are jumping right into writing without taking much time to organize you ideas” or “I noticed you are gathering a lot of info from only one source. Here’s what students producing stronger essays are doing.” My students are getting personalized feedback from me about their research and writing process, not just comments and grade on a final paper.” – Catherine Turso, High school Social Studies Teacher at Baruck College Campus Highschool, pilot teacher
“In a digital world, information is at our fingertips. This information abundance brings new challenges for students learning to write. How do they determine what information is reliable? How do they select appropriate evidence to build arguments? How do they navigate websites, blogs, news outlets, and academic databases to develop their own opinions and organize their thoughts? These are just some of the skills that the developers of Citelighter have captured in their tool. The student platform assists students in developing argumentative thinking and writing skills. The teacher platform allows teachers to see their students’ processes in a way that has never before been done. Citelighter is the tool that every teacher of research and writing will see and say, “I need this for my students.” – Dr. Kristen Turner – Assistant Professor of English at Fordham, Director of Digital Literacy Initiative

Check Out The Video

Take a peek at the video below to learn more about Citelighter and how the cognitive print works.

1 Comment

  1. Danize Simon-Diaz

    October 1, 2013 at 9:55 am

    This is interesting due to the fact of creating a blue print that establishes the development and progress of the ming gear toward academic success. I’m looking foward to gathering more information in this wonderful concept.