Among education journals, Cognition and Instruction’s distinctive niche is rigorous study of foundational issues concerning the mental, socio-cultural, and mediational processes and conditions of learning and intellectual competence. For these purposes, both “cognition” and “instruction” must be interpreted broadly. The journal preferentially attends to the “how” of learning and intellectual practices. A balance of well-reasoned theory and careful and reflective empirical technique is typical, as is analysis of process data in addition to outcome measures. The study of learning in engineered and ecologically valid circumstances is highly valued, but so is laboratory study that can be seen as necessary to reach fundamental principles that manifestly apply in the "real world" of learning and intellectual performance.