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Encyclopedia > Theory of cognitive development

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Although there is no general theory of cognitive development, one of the most historically influential theories was developed by Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist (1896–1980). His theory provided many central concepts in the field of developmental psychology and concerned the growth of intelligence, which for Piaget, meant the ability to more accurately represent the world and perform logical operations on representations of concepts grounded in the world. The theory concerns the emergence and acquisition of schemata—schemes of how one perceives the world—in "developmental stages", times when children are acquiring new ways of mentally representing information. The theory is considered "constructivist", meaning that, unlike nativist theories (which describe cognitive development as the unfolding of innate knowledge and abilities) or empiricist theories (which describe cognitive development as the gradual acquisition of knowledge through experience), it asserts that we construct our cognitive abilities through self-motivated action in the world. For his development of the theory, Piaget was awarded the Erasmus Prize. Piaget divided schemes that children use to understand the world through four main periods, roughly correlated with and becoming increasingly sophisticated with age: Jean Piaget [] (August 9, 1296 – September 16, 1480) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemologic view called genetic epistemology. He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and... This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... It has been suggested that Schemata theory be merged into this article or section. ... In Developmental psychology, a stage is a distinct phase in an individuals development. ... Constructivism is a set of assumptions about the nature of human learning that guide constructivist learning theories and teaching methods of education. ... The Erasmus Prize is an annual prize awarded by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization, to individuals or institutions that have made notable contributions to European culture, society, or social science. ...

  • Sensorimotor period (years 0–2)
  • Preoperational period (years 2–7)
  • Concrete operational period (years 7–11)
  • Formal operational period (years 11–adulthood)

Sensorimotor period

According to Piaget, this child is in the sensorimotor period and primarily explore the world with senses rather than through mental operations.

Infants are born with a set of congenital reflexes, according to Piaget, in addition to a drive to explore their world. Their initial schemas are formed through differentiation of the congenital reflexes (see assimilation and accommodation, below). Download high resolution version (2272x1704, 404 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (2272x1704, 404 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ...


The sensorimotor period is the first of the four periods. According to Piaget, this stage marks the development of essential spatial abilities and understanding of the world in six sub-stages:

  • The first sub-stage, known as the reflex schema stage, occurs from birth to six weeks and is associated primarily with the development of reflexes. Three primary reflexes are described by Piaget: sucking of objects in the mouth, following moving or interesting objects with the eyes, and closing of the hand when an object makes contact with the palm (palmar grasp). Over these first six weeks of life, these reflexes begin to become voluntary actions; for example, the palmar reflex becomes intentional grasping. (Gruber and Vaneche, 1977).
  • The second sub-stage, primary circular reaction phase, occurs from six weeks to four months and is associated primarily with the development of habits. Primary circular reactions or repeating of an action involving only one's own body begin. An example of this type of reaction would involve something like an infant repeating the motion of passing their hand before their face. The schema developed during this stage inform the infant about the relationships among his body parts (e.g., in passing the hand in front of his eyes he develops a motor schema for moving his arm so that the hand becomes visible.)
 Also at this phase, passive reactions, caused by classical or operant conditioning, can begin (Gruber et al., 1977). 
  • The third sub-stage, the secondary circular reactions phase, occurs from four to nine months and is associated primarily with the development of coordination between vision and prehension. Three new abilities occur at this stage: intentional grasping for a desired object, secondary circular reactions, and differentiations between ends and means. At this stage, infants will intentionally grasp the air in the direction of a desired object, often to the amusement of friends and family. Secondary circular reactions, or the repetition of an action involving an external object begin; for example, moving a switch to turn on a light repeatedly. The differentiation between means also occurs. This is perhaps one of the most important stages of a child's growth as it signifies the dawn of logic (Gruber et al., 1977). However, babies still only have a very early rudimentary grasp of this and most of their discoveries have an "accidental" quality to them in that the initial performance of what will soon become a secondary circular reaction occurs by chance; but then operant conditioning causes the initial "accidental" behavior (which was followed by an 'interesting' pattern of stimulation) to be repeated. And the ability to repeat the act is the result of primary circular reactions established in the previous stage. For example, when the infant's hand accidentally makes contact with an object he is looking at the infant receives both visual and tactile feedback about the object; and his subsequent ability to bring his hand into contact with other objects in his field of vision is based on the primary circular reaction of briniging his hand into his field of vision. Thus the child learns (at the level of schemata) that "if he can see it then he can also touch it" and this results in a schema which is the knowledge that his external environment is populated with solid objects.
  • The fourth sub-stage, which occurs from nine to twelve months, is when Piaget (1954) thought that object permanence developed. In addition, the stage is called the co-ordination of secondary circular reactions stage, and is associated primarily with the development of logic and the coordination between means and ends. This is an extremely important stage of development, holding what Piaget calls the "first proper intelligence." This stage marks the beginning of goal orientation or intentionality, the deliberate planning of steps to meet an objective (Gruber et al. 1977).
  • The fifth sub-stage, the tertiary circular reactions phase, occurs from twelve to eighteen months and is associated primarily with the discovery of new means to meet goals. Piaget describes the child at this juncture as the "young scientist," conducting pseudo-experiments to discover new methods of meeting challenges (Gruber et al. 1977).
  • The sixth sub-stage, known as the invention of new means through mental combinations stage, is associated primarily with the beginnings of insight, or true creativity. In this stage the trial-and-error application of schemata, which was observable during the previous stage, occurs internally (at the level of schemata rather than of motor responses), resulting in the sudden appearance of new effective behaviors (without any observable trial-and-error.) This marks the passage into the preoperational stage.

This article is about biological reflex. ... Suction is the creation of a partial vacuum, or region of low pressure. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... In psychology, habituation is an example of non-associative learning in which there is a progressive diminution of behavioral response probability with repetition of a stimulus. ... It has been suggested that eye blink conditioning be merged into this article or section. ... Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. ... Motor coordination is a major element of motor skills. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Prehensility is the quality of an organ that has adapted for grasping or holding. ... Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... Look up ability in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Ability - the quality of person of being able to perform; A quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment. ... Intelligence is the mental capacity to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. ... Look up Insight in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Creativity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The role of imitation

Piaget postulated that imitative activity is the forerunner of mental symbolism.[1] Bodily activity, imitating the action of perceived phenomena, actually builds bodily/behavioral signifiers that stand for phenomena in a comparable way to that by which mental symbols will later stand for these phenomena. Such imitative formations provide the basis upon which mental symbolic activity can later build. The symbol is, according to Piaget, an internalized imitation.


For Piaget, even perception of an object is an imitative activity; the eye tracing the shape of an object is forming a pre-symbolic concept of the object. Piaget suggests that the motions experienced here may be repeated by the child in an abbreviated fashion when recalling the object; this bodily image symbolizes the object that was perceived earlier.[2]

  1. ^ Ginsburg and Opper, Piaget's Theory of Intellectual Development, ISBN 0-13-675140-7, p. 73
  2. ^ ibid., pp. 72–75

Preoperational stage

The Preoperational stage is the second of four stages of cognitive development. By observing sequences of play, Piaget was able to demonstrate that towards the end of the second year a qualitatively new kind of psychological functioning occurs. (Pre)Operatory Thought in Piagetian theory is any procedure for mentally acting on objects. The hallmark of the preoperational stage is sparse and logically inadequate mental operations. Jean Piaget [] (August 9, 1296 – September 16, 1480) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemologic view called genetic epistemology. He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and...


According to Piaget, the Pre-Operational stage of development follows the Sensorimotor stage and occurs between 2–7 years of age. It includes the following processes:


Symbolic functioning—characterised by the use of mental symbols, words, or pictures, which the child uses to represent something which is not physically present.


Centration—characterized by a child focusing or attending to only one aspect of a stimulus or situation. For example, in pouring a quantity of liquid from a narrow beaker into a shallow dish, a preschool child might judge the quantity of liquid to have decreased, because it is "lower"—that is, the child attends to the height of the water, but not to the compensating increase in the diameter of the container.


Intuitive thought—occurs when the child is able to believe in something without knowing why she or he believes it.


Egocentrism—a version of centration, this denotes a tendency of a child to only think from her or his own point of view. Also, the inability of a child to take the point of view of others. Example, if a child is in trouble, he or she might cover her eyes thinking if I cannot see myself my mom cannot either.


Inability to Conserve—Through Piaget's conservation experiments (conservation of mass, volume and number) Piaget concluded that children in the preoperational stage lack perception of conservation of mass, volume, and number after the original form has changed. For example, a child in this phase will believe that a string of beads set up in a "O—O—O—O" pattern will have a larger number of beads than a string which has a "OOOO" pattern, because the latter pattern has less space in between Os; or that a tall, thin 8-ounce cup has more liquid in it than a wide, short 8-ounce cup (see also centration, above).


Animism The child believes that inanimate objects have "lifelike" qualities and are capable of action. Example, a child plays with a doll and treats it like a real person. In a way this is like using their imagination.


Concrete operational stage

The Concrete operational stage is the third of four stages of cognitive development in Piaget's theory. This stage, which follows the Preoperational stage, occurs between the ages of 7 and 11 years and is characterized by the appropriate use of logic. Important processes during this stage are:


Seriation'—the ability to arrange objects in an order according to size, shape, or any other characteristic. For example, if given different-shaded objects they may make a colour gradient.


Classification—the ability to name and identify sets of objects according to appearance, size or other characteristic, including the idea that one set of objects can include another. A child is no longer subject to the illogical limitations of animism (the belief that all objects are animals and therefore have feelings). The term Animism is derived from the Latin anima, meaning soul.[1][2] In its most general sense, animism is simply the belief in souls. ...


Decentering—where the child takes into account multiple aspects of a problem to solve it. For example, the child will no longer perceive an exceptionally wide but short cup to contain less than a normally-wide, taller cup.


Reversibility—where the child understands that numbers or objects can be changed, then returned to their original state. For this reason, a child will be able to rapidly determine that if 4+4 equals 8, 8−4 will equal 4, the original quantity.


Conservation—understanding that quantity, length or number of items is unrelated to the arrangement or appearance of the object or items. For instance, when a child is presented with two equally-sized, full cups they will be able to discern that if water is transferred to a pitcher it will conserve the quantity and be equal to the other filled cup.


Elimination of Egocentrism—the ability to view things from another's perspective (even if they think incorrectly). For instance, show a child a comic in which Jane puts a doll under a box, leaves the room, and then Jill moves the doll to a drawer, and Jane comes back. A child in the concrete operations stage will say that Jane will still think it's under the box even though the child knows it is in the drawer.


Formal operational stage

The formal operational period is the fourth and final of the periods of cognitive development in Piaget's theory. This stage, which follows the Concrete Operational stage, commences at around 11 years of age (puberty) and continues into adulthood. It is characterized by acquisition of the ability to think abstractly, reason logically and draw conclusions from the information available. During this stage the young adult is able to understand such things as love, "shades of gray", logical proofs, and values. Lucidly, biological factors may be traced to this stage as it occurs during puberty (the time at which another period of neural pruning occurs), marking the entry to adulthood in Physiology, cognition, moral judgement (Kohlberg), Psychosexual development (Freud), and social development (Erikson). Some two-thirds of people do not develop this form of reasoning fully enough that it becomes their normal mode for cognition, and so they remain, even as adults, concrete operational thinkers.[1] This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Look up Cognition in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A moral is a one sentence remark made at the end of many childrens stories that expresses the intended meaning, or the moral message, of the tale. ... Lawrence Kohlberg (October 25, 1927 – January 19, 1987) was born in Bronxville, New York. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Sigmund Freud His famous couch Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 - September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, a movement that popularized the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. ... Although the term social is a crucial category in social science and often used in public discourse, its meaning is often vague, suggesting that it is a fuzzy concept. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...


General information regarding the stages

These four stages have been found to have the following characteristics:

  • Although the timing may vary, the sequence of the stages does not.
  • Universal (not culturally specific)
  • Generalizable: the representational and logical operations available to the child should extend to all kinds of concepts and content knowledge
  • Stages are logically organized wholes
  • Hierarchical nature of stage sequences (each successive stage incorporates elements of previous stages, but is more differentiated and integrated)
  • Stages represent qualitative differences in modes of thinking, not merely quantitative differences

Challenges to Piagetian stage theory

Piagetians accounts of development have been challenged on several grounds. First, as Piaget himself noted, development does not always progress in the smooth manner his theory seems to predict. 'Decalage', or unpredicted gaps in the developmental progression, suggest that the stage model is at best a useful approximation. More broadly, Piaget's theory is 'domain general', predicting that cognitive maturation occurs concurrently across different domains of knowledge (such as mathematics, logic, understanding of physics, of language, etc). However, more recent cognitive developmentalists have been much influenced by trends in cognitive science away from domain generality and towards domain specificity or modularity of mind, under which different cognitive faculties may be largely independent of one another and thus develop according to quite different time-tables. In this vein, many current cognitive developmentalists argue that rather than being domain general learners, children come equipped with domain specific theories, sometimes referred to as 'core knowledge', which allows them to break into learning within that domain. For example, even young infants appear to understand some basic principles of physics (e.g. that one object cannot pass through another) and human intentionality (e.g. that a hand repeatedly reaching for an object has that object, not just a particular path of motion, as its goal). These basic assumptions may be the building block out of which more elaborate knowledge is constructed. Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... This is a discussion of a present category of science. ... Domain-specificity is a theoretical position in cognitive science (especially modern cognitive development) that argues that many aspects of cognition are supported by specialized, presumably evolutionarily specified, learning devices. ... Modularity of mind is the notion that a mind, at least in part, may be composed of separate innate structures which have established evolutionarily-developed functional purposes (ie. ...


Post Piagetian and Neo-Piagetian stages

There are three major changes to the number of stages and their definitions. First and foremost, the half stages are now shown to be stages. Pascual Leone discovered this. Almost all Post Piagetians accept this. Second, postformal stages have been shown to exist. Kurt Fischer suggested two, Michael Commons presents evidence for four postformal stages: the systematic, metasystematic, paradigmatic and cross paradigmatic. Fischer has considered a stage suggested by Biggs and Biggs. It is a stage before the early preoperational. Commons and Richards call this stage the sentential because organisms can sequence representations of concepts. Michael Lamport Commons, Ph. ... The model of hierarchical complexity, is a framework for scoring how complex a behavior is. ...


Piagetian and post-Piagetian stage theories/heuristics

The model of hierarchical complexity, is a framework for scoring how complex a behavior is. ... Kieran Egan, (born 1942) has written on issues in education and child development, with an emphasis on the uses of imagination and the intellectual stages (Egan calls them understandings) that mark different ages from birth to adulthood. ... The Educated Mind : How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding is a 1997 book on educational theory by Kieran Egan. ... BaronLarf 01:40, May 12, 2005 (UTC) Categories: Possible copyright violations ... A series of stages of faith development was proposed by Professor James W. Fowler, a developmental psychologist at Candler School of Theology, in the book Stages of Faith. ... Lawrence Kohlberg (October 25, 1927 – January 19, 1987) was born in Bronxville, New York. ... Kohlbergs stages of moral development are planes of moral adequacy conceived by Lawrence Kohlberg to explain the development of moral reasoning. ...

References

  • Piaget, J. (1954). "The construction of reality in the child". New York: Basic Books.
  • Piaget, J. (1977). The Essential Piaget. ed by Howard E. Gruber and J. Jacques Voneche Gruber, New York: Basic Books.
  • Piaget, J. (1983). "Piaget's theory". In P. Mussen (ed). Handbook of Child Psychology. 4th edition. Vol. 1. New York: Wiley.
  • Piaget, J. (1995). Sociological Studies. London: Routledge.
  • Piaget, J. (2000). "Commentary on Vygotsky". New Ideas in Psychology, 18, 241–259.
  • Piaget, J. (2001). Studies in Reflecting Abstraction. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
  • Seifer, Calvin "Educational Psychology"

Further reading

  • Geary, D. C. (2004). Evolution and cognitive development. In R. Burgess & K. MacDonald (Eds.), Evolutionary perspectives on human development (pp. 99-133). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Full text

David C. Geary received his Ph. ... Human development is the process of growing to maturity. ... This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... A human infant In basic English usage, an infant is defined as a human child at the youngest stage of life, especially before they can walk or simply a child before the age of one[1] (see also child and adolescent). ... Childhood (song) Childhood is a broad term usually applied to the phase of development in humans between infancy and adulthood. ... “Young Men” redirects here. ... See Adult. ... According to Erik Eriksons stages of human development, first enumerated in Childhood and Society (1950) a young adult is a person between the ages of 19 and 40, whereas an adolescent is a person between the ages of 12 and 21. ... Middle age is the period of life beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age. ... Paul Kruger in his old age. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The effects of ageing on a human face Elderly woman Ageing or aging is the process of systems deterioration with time. ... It has been suggested that Longevity genes be merged into this article or section. ... In Developmental psychology, a stage is a distinct phase in an individuals development. ... John Bowlby (1907 - 1990) was a British developmental psychologist in the psychoanalytic tradition, notable for his pioneering work in attachment theory. ... Mother and child. ... Jean Piaget [] (August 9, 1296 – September 16, 1480) was a Swiss philosopher, natural scientist and developmental psychologist, well known for his work studying children, his theory of cognitive development and for his epistemologic view called genetic epistemology. He created in 1955 the International Centre for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and... Lawrence Kohlberg (October 25, 1927 – January 19, 1987) was born in Bronxville, New York. ... Kohlbergs stages of moral development are planes of moral adequacy conceived by Lawrence Kohlberg to explain the development of moral reasoning. ... Sigmund Freud (IPA: ), born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939), was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... // Psychosocial development as articulated by Erik Erikson describes eight developmental stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development@Everything2.com (1303 words)
Piaget's theory of cognitive development is based on the assumption that people try to make sense of the world and actively create their knowledge through direct experience with objects, people and ideas.
Prior to the work of psychologist Jean Piaget, the predominant view of cognitive development in children was based on the idea that children's mental processes are roughly the same as those of adults.
Throughout his or her development, the child interprets new phenomena using existing schemas by assimilation, and changes existing schemas as a result of experience by the process of accommodation.
TIP: Theories (336 words)
A second aspect of Vygotsky's theory is the idea that the potential for cognitive development depends upon the "zone of proximal development" (ZPD): a level of development attained when children engage in social behavior.
Vygotsky's theory is complementary to the work of Bandura on social learning and a key component of situated learning theory.
Because Vygotsky's focus was on cognitive development, it is interesting to compare his views with those of Bruner and Piaget.
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