Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development: an Appreciation - Essay Example

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Man takes pride of his intellect which according to him separates him from the rest of the animal kingdom. Indeed, the scientific and technological advancement we can see today serves as a living testament to this belief. Such complex undertakings and achievements are due all to the human’s mind. …
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Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development: an Appreciation
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Download file to see previous pages Man takes pride of his intellect which according to him separates him from the rest of the animal kingdom. Indeed, the scientific and technological advancement we can see today serves as a living testament to this belief. Such complex undertakings and achievements are due all to the human’s mind.
The question that invariably rises now is how the human mind achieved this state of being. Research on cognitive development, or the development of thinking processes, has had many enthusiasts –most of them philosophers – who proposed many explanations. However, the most influential theory of cognitive development was that of Jean Piaget. (Piaget,1977)
In this paper, we aim to gain a better understanding of Piaget’s theory thru a discussion of the concepts he forwarded. We will then try to observe Piaget’s theory in operation in two children – one 3 years old and another one 8 years of age.
Piaget’s Theory
Piaget’s 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.
Piaget divided schemes that children use to understand the world through four main stages, roughly correlated with and becoming increasingly sophisticated with age:
Sensorimotor stage (years 0-2)
Preoperational stage (years 2-7)
Concrete operational stage (years 7-11)
Formal operational stage (years 11-adulthood)
Although the task did not mention what stage will the research focus, the age classification of the subjects leads us to focus on the Pre-operational stage and the Concrete Operational stage. We discuss them in the following (Piaget, 2001):
Preoperational stage
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.
According to Piaget, the Pre-Operational stage includes the following processes:
Symbolic functioning - use of mental symbols, words or pictures to represent something which is not physically present.
Centration - 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 - tendency of a child to only think from her or his own point of view
Inability to Conserve - lack of perception of conservation of mass, volume, and number after the original form has changed.
Concrete operational stage
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:
Decentering - takes into account multiple aspects of a problem to solve it. For example, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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