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Piaget’s Take on Cognitive Development

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Stefany Diaz

EECE 310

Professor Spring

10 May 2016

Piaget’s Take On Cognitive Development


        Jean Piaget was a clinical psychologist from Switzerland. He lived from 1896 to 1980. His contribution to the field of psychology was a very influential one. Piaget's influence all began with his employment in the Binet Institute during the 1920s. Here, his job entailed around him developing French questions on English intelligence tests. What caught his attention automatically was that some of the children gave incorrect answers for questions he believed required logical thinking. This caught his interest and Piaget thought that these incorrect answers stemmed the important difference between how adults thought and how children thought.

        Piaget's major contribution to psychology was his theory of child development. He believed that children undergo 4 universal stages of cognitive development. The first stage was known as sensorimotor. It took place from birth up to 2 years old. In this stage the child learns by doing, looking, and touching. The main accomplishment of this stage is that object permanence begins to appear at 9 months. Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when we cannot see, feel, or smell them. During this stage, children also gain a basic understanding of cause and effect relationships. The second stage is preoperational and take places from ages 2 to 7. Throughout this stage children begin to use language and symbols such as letter and numbers. This provides them the ability to make the object for example, a word, have a much greater meaning. Egocentrism is evident in this stage, where the children have a difficult time comprehending and accepting the viewpoints of others aside from themselves. Third stage is known as concrete operations and occurs from 7 to 11 years old. Piaget believed that this stage was a crucial turning point for the children's cognitive development. In this stage the child demonstrates conservation, serial ordering, and a development understanding of cause and effect. The concrete operational stage marks the start of the child's logical thought. By this, Piaget means that instead of physically trying to resolve issues in the real world, the child maps and internally does it in his/her head. This stage also allows children to people to maintain a number by age 6, mass by age 7, and weight by ae 9. By doing this, children display knowledge in conservation. This means that they acknowledge that something can remain equal in amount although its look may change. The final stage of Piaget's theory is known as the formal operational stage. This stage occurs from 11 years and over until adulthood. During this period the child shows abstract thinking such as logic, deductive reasoning, and comparison.

In this theory of cognitive development, each child must go through every stage of cognitive development in the same order. However, it is clear that there is diversity in how each child advances and progresses through the stages. There is no indication made by Piaget regarding each stage attained by the stated ages. Some believe that each stage has no appropriate age but that everyone must go through each stage.

The major strengths of this theory are that it made a huge impact on teaching and education in general. Many different instructional strategies have been development from this theory such as a contributory environment. Piaget's theory also highly improved the understanding of cognitive development. From this the way children's thinking was viewed shift significantly. As well as the way adults communicate with children. From Piaget's theory various way to study children have stemmed. Prior to the theories made by Piaget, the assumption made in psychology regarding children was that they were less competent thinkers than adults. Piaget’s theory opened a whole new educated perspective on this topic. The interesting part of Piaget's theory is that he did not originally intend for it to be attributed to the field of education, although many of the principles he provides can be used for teaching.

In the same way that Piaget's theory provided many positive things for education it also faced a ton of criticism. For starters, a lot of people believed that Piaget’s research was not reliable and was formed from a biased opinion. Piaget only did extensive research on his own children. Another downside to his theory is that he belittled the abilities of the children. For example in theory of cognitive development each stage describes different abilities that the child will posses by a certain age, However, most children will possess those abilities at an earlier age than he stated.



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