Cognitive Development theory by Jean Piaget
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The cognitive development theory was developed by a Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget. According to the child development text book, Jean Piaget published his first article when he was only 10 years old. At age 21, he received his Ph.D. degree. After that he became fascinated in psychology and worked at Binet Laboratory. While working in the Binet Lab, Piaget discovered lot about children. He learned that children were active in their thinking; all children, even the young ones, made worthy attempts to understand and answer questions even though their answers were different that older children’s answers. He also realized that the younger children’s answers were different because younger children think differently than older children. For the rest of his career, Piaget observed children and worked on his theory of cognitive development using his background in biology (source 1).
In Piaget’s theory, he believes that they are two major principles that guide intellectual growth and biological development: adaptation and organization (source 2). Adoption is in order for a person to survive in an environment, he must adapt to physical and mental stimuli. The two parts of the adaptation process are assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the process of brining new objects or information into cognitive structure that already exists (source 3). An example of assimilation is a little boy, john, see his own picture in a photo album for the first time. The mother asks him, “who is that john?” John points to the boy in the picture and says, “It’s baby.” John can’t identify himself. The mother tells john,” yes, it’s baby, and that baby is you.” She explains to John how pictures are taken to capture moments. In order for John to understand what his mother told him about the picture, she has to somehow assimilate the information from his mother and into his existing internal cognitive structures. Accommodation refers to the process adjusting the information in a cognitive structure that already exists or creating new ones to better fit assimilated information (source 1). An example would be John from the above example. John knows that he can’t concurrently exist in two places. Now that John’s mother told him that he is the baby in the picture, John will now alter his interior mental structures to adjust to the newly discovered external reality. The second principle in the Piaget’s cognitive theory is organization. Organization is the tendency to form increasingly rational and integrated structures (source 2). Piaget advocated that a human’s mind is organized in integrated and complex ways. He believed that simplest level is the scheme, which is a physical or mental action that can be performed on an object or even (source 3). According to the Child Development text book, a person’s scheme can be modified, united and rationalized to form more complex cognitive structures.
They are four major stages in the cognitive development theory. Piaget said that children demonstrate new intellectual abilities and increasingly complex understand of the world in each stage (Source 3). He believed that all children pass thorough the four stages in order to advance to the next level. These stages are always in order.
The first stage is the sensorimotor thought stage, which lasts from birth till the age of two. During this stage, the infant has fairly little ability in representing the environment using images, language or symbols (source 1). Infants can’t form symbols and are trapped in their immediate sensory and motor actions world.
The second stage is preoperational thought, which last from age two to seven. During this stage, children begin to use language and their memory and imagination also develops. The children can think about something without the object being visible by use of language. Children engage in make believe and they can understand and express relationships between the past and the future. Children’s intelligence is egocentric and intuitive during this stage. They believe that they are he center of the universe, and it seems that everyone has to believe the same things that they believe or do. During ages of four to seven, also known as the intuitive phase, child becomes less egocentric and more social (source 3). She or he has an instinctive grasp of logical concepts in some areas, but the child still has a tendency to focus attention on only one part of the object and ignoring the rest. During this stage, children believe that certain basic properties of an object, such as volume, mass, and weight remain the same even if its physical appearance changes. This example is also known as conservation example (source 1).
Concrete operational thought is the third stage in Paige’s theory, which develops between the ages of seven to eleven years old. Children show intellectual development in this stage through the use of logical and systematical manipulation of symbols that are related to concrete objects (source 2). Their thinking becomes less egocentric and their awareness of external events is increased.
The final stage of Paige’s theory is the formal operational thought theory, which lasts from age 12 to adulthood. During this stage the adolescent uses symbols that are related to abstract concepts. He or she learns to use hypothetico-deductive reasoning. According to the Child Development text book, “Hypothertico-deductive reasoning is the ability to use reasons from general to specific facts, also known as deductive reasoning, to systematically manipulate several variables, test the effects in a systematic way and reach correct conclusions in complex problems.” Piaget believed that intellectual development was a lifelong process, but no new structures were needed when formal operational thought was achieved.
Piaget believed that intellectual development was a lifelong process, but that when formal operational thought was attained, no new structures were needed. Intellectual development in adults involves developing more complex schema through the addition of knowledge.