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How Did Piaget View Cognitive Development - Essay Example

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Development is the process by which organisms grow and adapt to their ever changing environment. For humans in particular, development has many stages, which starts from what the person already has. and would then include learning from outside sources, such as things learned through experiences, social interactions, and the like …
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How Did Piaget View Cognitive Development
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Running Head: PIAGET AND COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT How Did Piaget View Cognitive Development? How Did PiagetView Cognitive Development?
Development is the process by which organisms grow and adapt to their ever changing environment. For humans in particular, development has many stages, which starts from what the person already has (instinct, primitive reflexes, etc.) and would then include learning from outside sources, such as things learned through experiences, social interactions, and the like (Slavin, 2009, p. 30). Many theories regarding development in humans today are categorized as to whether the theory is more on the inherent characteristics of a child, also known as the nature aspect, and as to whether the theory involves the nurture aspect, or environmental factors that could affect human development (ibid., p. 31). With regards to the nurture aspect of development, Jean Piaget has many accepted theories regarding human development.
Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was one of the leading developmental psychologists that mainly focused on the impact of environmental and social factors on human development, particularly cognitive development in children. His theories on how a child’s way of thinking grows and adapts through acquiring experiences through the process of interacting with nonliving things as well as by engaging in social interaction with other children or adults, was very much looked upon especially during the pre-war era. Most of the theories were to be tested as models for improving people’s learning in school or at work, but were not tested fully after World War II broke out (Hsueh, 2005, p. 1).
In theory, development can either be continuous or discontinuous. Continuous development is related to the human development through gradual progress from infancy to adulthood. Discontinuous development, on the other hand, occurs through a fixed sequence that has discrete and predictable stages (Slavin, 2009, p. 32). In Piaget’s view on cognitive development in humans, the trend is rather discontinuous (Richardson & Sheldon, 1996, p. 178), and that growth is seen as having specific, qualitatively different stages. Each stage then has particular information-processing approaches that would be based on memory and language skills acquired at a certain stage. Also, cognitive growth is stimulated by what a child perceives (Ogden, 1964, p. 1), and that the process of learning can be enhanced by letting the child experience and discover new things suitable for his or her age (Richardson & Sheldon, 1996, p. 185). The child, then, would be able to gain new knowledge when previously-acquired knowledge would get challenged by new stimuli, and the said process encourages the child to think of other ways to get out of the problem, like adapting to changes and recalling what caused such changes (Slavin, 2009, p. 32). This is in order to resolve a similar problem that might arise.
Theoretically, in Piaget’s stages of development, all children must pass all four stages. These stages include the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and formal operational stage. It was stressed that no child can skip a stage. In recent studies though, some children either skipped a stage or finished a stage much faster than the average. This created some revisions in his original ideas due to issues regarding the validity of his claim (Langer & Killen, 1998, p. 250). But, despite this fact, Piaget’s ideas still get “rediscovered” and reexamined, thus keeping them in line with many newer theories on how cognition develops in individuals (Hsueh, 2005, 3).
Jean Piaget presented ideas that sparked many new theories about the development of human cognitive learning (Hsueh, 2005, p. 2). His idea of progressing in separate and distinct stages was both revolutionary and radical since during the time it was proposed, many theories were available regarding the continuous and inherent growth and development in humans. Children grow up as what they were preprogrammed to do, and Piaget challenged this idea by presenting tests that show how at a certain age children would be able to answer problems and solve them based on how much they have experienced and have perceived at that time. Another thing is that even though there may be distinct stages in the cognitive development, the four main steps in the process of problem-solving, mainly assimilation, accommodation, equilibration and reflective abstraction were normally employed (Langer & Killen, 1998, p. 248). The only difference between all stages of growth would be the amount of previously perceived experiences at a specific stage of growth, in a specific individual.
Based on the research conducted, it can be concluded that it is true that most of Piaget’s theories would still hold true until today even though some of them were already refuted, but the very basic idea of cognitive learning is still his achievement. His legacy is that he introduced the concept that cognitive learning is stimulated by letting a child perceive ideas and solutions as an effective way of letting a child think outside the box and become more creative not just in a single area of growth but in the development of the person as a whole.

Hsueh, Y. (2005). The lost and found experience: Piaget rediscovered. The Constructivist, 16(1).
Retrieved May 17, 2010 from Citeseerx database.
Langer, J. & Killen, M. (1998). Piaget, evolution, and development. New Jersey: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Ogden, C.K. (1964). The early growth of logic in the child. London: Routledge and Kegan
Paul Ltd.
Richardson, K. & Sheldon, S. (1996). Cognitive development to adolescence. East Sussex:
Psychology Press.
Slavin, R.E. (Ed.). (2009). Educational psychology theory and practice. Johns Hopkins
University Read More
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