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JEAN PIAGET'S THEORY OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT.

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Divides theory into 4 stages (sensori-motor, preoperational thought, concrete operations & formal operations) and studies characteristic of each.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Divides theory into 4 stages (sensori-motor, preoperational thought, concrete operations & formal operations) and studies characteristic of each.

Paper Introduction:
The purpose of this research is to examine the child development theories of Jean Piaget. Jean Piaget has long been the most influential figure in the field of child development. His vast volume of contributions was most notable in three particular aspects. First, his ideas were innovative with an awareness of problems which has never before been investigated. Secondly, research in child development has revitalized and reoriented the field, challenging it anew. Third, the research of Piaget is most thoroughly and appropriately founded upon the study of children (Ginsburg and Opper., 1969, p. IX). Piaget is perhaps best known for his theory of cognitive development. He defined cognition as: a form of biological adaptation - the organism's constant

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Actions are internalized viasymbolic functions, but thought is not liberated from perception(Wadsworth, 1971, p. Each of these concepts: egocentrism, centration, transformation, andreversibility are interdependent and yet eachdominates the operation of thought. This is true according to Piaget in the child's approachto: "methods of approaching reality, in the ensuing views of the world, andin the uses of language" (Ginsburg and Opper., 1969, p. Thefifth stage, twelve to fifteen months is that of experimentation, as thechild begins to discover through these means. Such speech is characterized bymonologues described by Piaget as collective. The child uses representational thought more quickly andeffectively. It contains the capabilities of mental representation,conservation, reversibility, and decentration. It is a period wherein thechild is able to classify objects accord-ing to categories, and tounderstand a relationship among them. The images of absent objects are considered. These structures were used by Piagetto explain why children "make rather stable responses to stimuli, and toaccount for many of the phenomena associated with memory" (Wadsworth, 1971,p. The first stage, from birth to one month, finds the childunable to differentiate between self and other objects. The self is seen as an object among other objects and as the objectof actions. The child does not reflect and therefore does notquestion his way of thinking. The concrete opera-tional child is able to visualize theentire route being taken (Mussen, Conger, and Kagan, 1974, p. The four stages are; the sensori-motor intelligence period (birth - 2years), the preoperational thought period (2 - 7 years) the concreteoperations period (7 - 11 years) and the formal operations period (1l - 15years) (Wadsworth, 1971, page 26). al., 1974, p.311). Each period is reached sequentially as the child develops cognitively.The sensori-motor period's the level of development which the child uses asa foundation for the next period in which language and other cognitiveskills may begin to develop. The metaphor is now understood. 31 ). It is this socialinterac-tion which prompts the dissolving of egocentric thinking. Lastly, representational thoughtis now subject to socialization. Schema are cognitive structures. These two acts were inseparable in the functioningof the total person. 32). Piaget's work in cognitive development supports the sugges-tion thatthe child is quite different in a number of ways rather then simply being aminiature adult. In egocentric speech, the child emphasizes the self,and has no real value of communication. The child'sview is different from the adult's qualitatively as he sees the world witha unique perspective. Wadsworth, Barry J. (1971). In developing this theory of cognitive developmentwhich defined intellectual organizationand adaptation, Piaget required the application of four basic concepts:"schema, assimilation, accommodation, and equilibrium" (Wadsworth, 1971, p.1 ). The presence of irreversibility is the most observable of the problemsin thinking experienced by the preoperational child. Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development.New York: David McKay Company Inc. Thinkingis scientific in nature with the ability to effect and test a hypothesis.It is independent of content with the operation of logical thought. A more intelligent child may proceed morequickly than a slower child but they will both follow the same sequentialstages of development. (1974).Child Development and Personality. 77). Itmay be noted that Piaget placed a chronological age upon each period as ameasure for normative comparison. Secondly,research in child development has revitalized and reoriented the field,challenging it anew. This indicates the presence of the"comprehension and use of social-relational terms" (Ambron, 1975, p. All cognitive structures are formed and will not be improvedupon during the remainder of life. (1955). 75). Thisplacement is not considered right or wrong but as better and better. 223). A child in the preoperational periodwould walk to the store by making certain turns along the way as would arat in a maze. The third stage, four to eight months, demonstrates eye-handcoordination, and the ability to reproduce interesting events. The child now operates with symbols which may not have a per-sonalmeaning but which contain an abstract one. They are the center of actions and events. 219). Curiosity and anticipationare present in primitive form while some differentiation has begun to takeplace. Duringthis level of development the child is inhibited intellectually becausehe/she does not accommodate new schemata well. Piaget's Theory ofIntellectual Development. Mussen, Paul Henry, Johy Janeway Conger, and Jerome Kagan. (1975). 64). (1969). The child will now be seen as developingintellectually and primarily in the conceptual-symbolic area but, this isnot to imply that the sensori-motor developments have reached its completematurational level. Schemata adapts and changes as the individual grows inmental development, and becomes more numerous. It is a system of living and acting operation that strives for equilibration or a balancing between what the individual knows and what he perceives in the world (Ambron, 1975, p. The transition between the two was found to be thenonconversation of thecollective monologues (Piaget, 1955, p. However, as the child becomes more socialized, his/her ideasare questioned by the conflict of the thoughts of others. Rather the process of the child's development, will bedominated by his intellectual processes. The process known as assimilation and accommodation arethought to be responsible for changes in schema. Decentration begins before this periodbut is acquisition is a gradual process in which the child increasinglygeneralized and accomplishes more and more complex problems. He/she is capable of reflection and the reexamination ofknowledge a well as having the ability to contemplate. Theseconcepts are found to occur at all levels of Piaget's theory of cognitivedevelopment. Often the child shows noconception of the nature of the question asked. In the preoperational period, "the cognitive behavior of the child isstill influenced by perceptual activities. Though adolescents have the equipment tothink as well as an adult they will not particularly manifest this ability.Changes in schemata continue to take place but quantitatively rather thenqualitatively. Serialization is another characteristic which should be mentioned. Theacquisition of conserva-tion, a very gradual process, is usually present atthe end of the preoperational period. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. 352). References Ambron, Sueann Robinson. Both modes create changes ordevelopment of cognitive structures. IX). The formal operational child can deal with complex classes ofproblems, both hypothetical and verbal, and also those involving thefuture. Socialized speech showed realintercommunication. Thinking is accomplished with the integration of general theoriesrather then dealing with each problem inisolation, thus, several operations made used in problem solving. Child Development. Thus, the egocentric thought, as it manifestsduring the less socialized behaviors of the child, does not need aresolution. Piaget is perhaps best known for his theory of cognitivedevelopment. Equilibrium is the balance that takes place between assimilation andaccommodation. Jean Piaget has long been the most influential figure in the field ofchild development. The Language and Thought of the Child. For these reasons, communication and education withand of the child must take on special under-standing for successfulaccomplishment. According to Ambron, (1975, p. A major and crucial implication of centration and decentration ismade in its effect on egocentricity in the child. First, his ideas were innovative with anawareness of problems which has never before been investigated. Thus the adult sees the child's view of reality aschaotic and unnatural. Where as the sensori-motor and preoperational periods children view the world directly inrelation to the self. 239) the preoperational period ofcognitive development can be subdivided into a preconceptual stage, abouttwo to four years, and intuitive stage, about four to seven years. Conservation is another unique facet of Piaget's theory.By definition it is the ability of the child to conceptualize that theamount or quantity of a matter will stay the same regardless of whether theshape or position changes. The preoperational child is also unable to attend to transformations,which are the changes of one state to another. They are: "egocentrism, centration,irreversibility, and inability to follow transformation" (Wadsworth, 1971,p. During the preoperational period the child engages in symbolicthinking, coordinates schemata, and makes novel responses as new abilitiesemerge. Moral development is divided by Piagetinto two dimensions: "intentionality (the motive of an individual) andrestitution (punishment that provides for restoration of damage)" (Ambron,1975, p. In theoverall period, the child evolves from functioning primarily in sensori-motor modes to that of a conceptual-symbolic one. For example, the educator may present asimpleproblem or idea with a self-evident answer, yet the child will havedifficulty in formulating the correct answer. No child may pass through the stagesexcept in the prescribed order. As the child moves his/her attention from state to state,there is no integration of the information received. The child cancreate a new schemata in which to fit the new stimuli or the stimuli may bemodified to fit already existing schemata. He defined cognition as: a form of biological adaptation - the organism's constant effort to bring about a harmonious interaction between his own schemata and the outer world. Piaget's last period of development is the formal operational period.The child is able to understand that classes may not only be considered asconcrete objects but also may be conceived of - and operated on withabstract thought. The second stage, one to fourmonths, shows the child with the general activities of hand sucking, andgrasping by which the environment is perceived. Itis the ability to arrange objects according to some quantified dimensions,such as weight or size, on an ordinal scale (Mussen, et. It is only with time andexperience that the child becomes able to 'decenter' and evaluateperceptual aspects of events in a coordinated way with cognitions(Wadsworth, 1971, p. Assimilation isthe cognitive process by which the person integrates newperceptual matter or stimulus events into exiting schemata or patterns ofbehavior (Wadsworth, 1971, p. At this period the child is very influenced by the moralityof cooperation, holding rules and laws as very sacred and unchangeable. 14). Mental representation is achieved in that the child is able to applythis capacity to a series of actions. Conservationis not achieved as a whole process but in parts, for first comes theconservation of numbers, then weight, and lastly volume. However,the concrete operational child are able to decenter the self and understandand take the viewpoints of others. He divided language in this period intotwo different classifications: egocentric speech,and socialized speech. The self is seen as the cause of all events. Conservation and reversibility are attained during this period as thechild is capable of decentration. 7 ). The childcan anticipate the movement of objects, but can not make spacial relationsof objects. In the preoperational period, the child isunable to conserve, or in other words to "hold one dimension invariant inthe face of changes in other dimensions" (Wadsworth, 171, p. There is also the operation withsymbols of symbols. The sixth stage, eighteen to twenty-four months, is that ofrepresentation and the ability to invent new means with internalcombinations. UnitedStates: The World Publishing Company. Ginsburg, Herbert & Sylvia Opper. 4 8).There is interest in theoretical ideas, which leads the individual toformulate ideals of families, societies, andreligions. During this period of late adolescence, "the ability to acquire andutilize knowledge reaches its peak efficiency" (Ambron, 1975, p. Third, the research of Piaget is most thoroughly andappropriately founded upon the study of children (Ginsburg and Opper.,1969, p. San Francisco:Rinehart Press/Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. There is anawareness of movements of objects that have not been seen andrepresentation of spatial relationships. The third period of cognitive development, Piaget termed concreteoperational. However, while assimilation accounts forthe way in which the individual organizes and adapts to his environment, itis the process of accommodation that accounts for the change in schemata.Accommoda-tion takes place when the child is not able to fit the incomingstimulus to the already existing schemata, in two ways. Thus, the educator seesthat his/her adult experience may not be generalized for the child. There is anawareness of the relationship between self and objects, well as objects inspace. 35 ).Wherein the development of social behavior and morality are progressedthrough or because of this capacity. As the cognitive development of thechild progresses, these concepts will subside in unison. In essence, the childdoes not have the ability to retrace or mentally reverse the sequence ofthoughts or events. Piaget, Jean. Symbol representationgive the child the ability to think (internally represent events) and thusto become less dependent upon sensori-motor abilities to effect behaviors.The child most notably develops language and socialization of behaviors.However, thinking in adult terms is limited because of certain thoughtcharacteristics during this period. Centration, yet another limiting characteristic of this period is thepoint at which the child fixes his/her attention when giving his/herattention to the exploration of a stimulus. There is reflexactivity and perceptions are egocentric. The purpose of this research is to examine the childdevelopment theories of Jean Piaget. However, a child might showaspects of a more advance stage at an earlier age and vice versa, but inone aspect Piaget is very definite. The fourth stage,eight to twelve months is characterized by the coordination of schemata.The child can apply known means to new problems, can anticipate, has objectperman-ence, and perceptual constancy of size and shape of objects.Causality is now viewed with elementary concepts of externaliza-tion. Rather the child focuses oneach individual or in between state then on the sequence of the whole fromstart to finish. 125).Piaget saw cognitive acts as organization of and adaptation to theperceived environment. Education may especially utilize the concepts of Piaget inits presentation of material to children and with appropriate expectationsof their capabilities for learning. His vast volume of contributions was most notable inthree particular aspects. Each schema may be thought of as an index or file by which theindividual can organize and then generalize incoming stimuli throughdifferentiation. Each step of development follows acumulative process as the previous stage is integrated into the next. Piaget's whole theory of development "stresses theinteraction of current cognitive structure and new experiences for thearousal of interest and the subsequent development of under-standing"(Ginsburg and Opper., 1969, p. The first period, that of sensor-motor intelligence is broken downinto six stages. Piaget placed great importance upon the role of language inthe development of the intellect. It is necessary to insure an efficient interaction with theenvironment and is placement in the child's schemata is always consideredappropriate to that person's level of conceptual development. Thesecond stage begins with the appearance of symbolic representation. Coupled with the sensitivity of aconcerned educator, the child's world may be guided to its fullestpotential. New York: Harper &Row Publishers. It is during this period that the child reaches maturityfor he/she has to ability to solve all classes of problems, through logicaloperations. He/she also searches forobjects with consideration for sequential displacements. 1 ). Piaget's theory of cognitive development is composed of four stageswhich proceed according to chronological age. Numbers andquantities are dealt with intellectually. Causality is representative withcauses and effects inferred. Thus, the perceptionof the whole is dependent upon the assumption of the present focus of theattention.

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