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Cognitive Development (Piaget And Vygotsky)

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I. Theoretical Perspectives

1. Introduction:

There are a number of theorists that have ideas, charts, and graphs about how a child develops. Many are used today to determine when a child is mature, when they can feel emotion, and other important factors to which there are no strict textbook answers for. Piaget and Vygotsky are two theorists that offer theoretical perspectives on how a child develops.

2. Piaget's Constructivist Theory of Cognitive Development:

Piaget had a phrase that said "Assimilation and Accommodation lead to Adaptation." Assimilation is when a person fits his or her external information in with what he or she already knows. The change is external in this case. Accommodation is the exact opposite. This is when you have to modify what you already know to make some sense out of the external information. The change is internal. A person must use both of these tactics in order to adapt to a situation (external or internal) correctly and have a regulated equilibrium.

Nature v. Nurture:

In Piaget's theories, he seems to cover the Nature side of the "Nature v. Nurture" argument. In the textbook assigned for this class, Of Children, by Guy R. Lefrancois, it tells about how and when a child is growing up, he or she is a helpless little organism. (S) he is lacking in stored thought and reasoning. However, they are remarkable sensing machines. They are picking up everything around them in their environment. They look for, seek out, and respond to every stimulation there possibly is.

Continuity v. Discontinuity:

Piaget has two main theories. One theory is on Adaptation, the other is about Development. In terms of the adaptation theory, better known as his Constructivist theory, continuity seems to take place. This theory ,and its content, is not something that would stop at a certain age. It is a continual process that everyone has until death.

Piaget's Developmental Theory, better known as his Stage Theory, he describes how a person develops from birth and how each level effects a person. (Described in more detail on page six) This is an example of discontinuity. His stages only approach up to, and end with, approximately age fifteen. This theory does not seem to have any major factors after approximately age fifteen.

Individual Differences:

No child is the same even if they are brought up the same way. People learn that through the Nature V. Nurture argument, but that is another story. There are major factors that can disrupt the Stage theory or the Constructivist theory. A person could have a dysfunction or a special need that needs to be dealt with. For example, is a little boy has a brain dysfunction that disrupts his learning abilities, there is a high percentage of chance that he will not develop at the same pace and rate as other children in his generation and environment.

With the Constructivist Theory, a child may not know how to deal with his or her internal emotions and/or thoughts. If that child does not know how to deal with his or her own internal workings, there is going to be much difficulty trying to deal with a personal accommodation. The same thing goes with assimilation. If a child does not know how to deal with his or her external environment, there is going to be difficulty changing them and dealing with assimilation.

Dealing with the Developmental Theory (Stage Theory), a child may have the same dysfunction and not be able to move up the ladder of stages. There are those rare cases where a child may be stuck at one stage, or a child may not develop everything he or she needs to move on.

A. Organizational and Adaptive Processes that Account for Cognitive Development:

The three adaptive processes for cognitive development are assimilation, accommodation, and equilibrium. These are three agents that contribute to a child's intellectual growth. Ass was covered earlier, assimilation is when a person fits his or her external information in with what he or she already knows and accommodation is when you have to modify what you already know to make some sense out of the external information.

Equilibrium is what keeps both assimilation and accommodation balanced. Having a well-balanced equilibrium is having a healthy adaptation level. If Assimilation or Accommodation overpower another, a person may develop differently.

B. The Four Periods of Cognitive Development in Piaget's Theory:

This theory is better known as Piaget's Stage Theory because it deals with four stages of development. Each stage has its own components and major characteristics that take place. They are all separated by an approximate amount of years which a child would fall under.

1. Sensorimotor: (Ages Birth - 2)

This stage is primarily physically based. It has to do with building up a type of coordination between sensations that are felt and the movements that cause them or are caused by the sensation. The main movements that a child deals with at this point are involuntary movements called reflexes.

During this stage, the child, through physical interactions with his or her own environment, builds a set of concepts about reality, and it really works.

2. Pre-operational: (Ages 2 - 7)

The child now knows about certain movements and reflexes that happen. Now is the time for the child to realize that there is a differentiation between his or her own "self" and the "other" people. A type of egocentric thought begins to develop.

3. Concrete Operational: (Ages 7 - 11)

At this point, the child has the ability to think abstractly. His or her thought process has widened. A number of physical experiences have happened in his or her life. A thought process begins to connect these physical actions to explanations of why they happened. They can now use rule of logic. Using logic, the child is capable of reversibility and conservation.

4. Formal Operational: (Ages 11 - 15)

The child at this point is able to imagine a hypothetical situation, or solve a problem that it not directly in front of them. Conceptual reasoning is now possible of the child. They are becoming more adult-like in their thought structures and processes. There is high potential in the child to use logic to his or her fullest capacity.

C. Characteristic



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