Sunday, September 15, 2013
Jean Piaget, Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher whose career had a profound effect on both education and psychology. Throughout his career, Piaget made several contributions to learning and to cognition. There is also a very important model developed by Piaget and theoretical concepts associated with that model. This model developed by Piaget still has a modern-day relevancy.
Contributions to Learning and to Cognition
Piaget made several contributions to learning and to cognition by developing theories that helped understand the cognitive differences between adults and children. He provided support for the idea of children and adults think differently. Piaget’s work also generated and increased interest in developmental and cognitive psychology. Students in education and psychology study the theories of Piaget to understand learning and cognition. Applying Piaget's theory of cognitive development to the education of children is another contribution that enables the effective teaching of children (Kuhn, 1979). One last contribution of Piaget’s is the creation of the International Center for Genetic Epistemology, which occurred in 1955.
Model associated with Piaget
Jean Piaget developed the theory of cognitive development, which distinguishes the four primary cognitive structures that correspond to four stages of intellectual development. The stages are in turn divided into distinctive sub-stages in which distinctive cognitive abilities emerge. These stages are sensorimotor stage (birth to about two years), preoperational thinking (about two to seven years), concrete operations (about seven to 11 or 12 years), and formal operations (about 11 or 12 to 14 or 14 years).
This stage occurs from birth to about two years. A characteristic of this stage is the absence of language; however, the stage is not characterized by thinking, such as Piaget viewed thinking (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). Basically, infants, and toddlers do not have words for things therefore objects do not exist when a child is not interacting with the objects directly. Strictly sensorimotor are children’s environmental interactions, what children deal with is the here, and present. Egocentric, refers to how children are at this stage, and they see every, and anything with themselves as a frame of reference (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). Also at this stage a child’s psychological world is the only one of existence. The concept of permanence for a child develops toward this stages end; therefore children start to realize that objects still exist when they are no longer experiencing those objects.
This stage occurs from about two years to seven years. In this stage there are two subdivisions, which are preconceptual thinking (occurring basically two to four years) and the period of intuitive thought (occurring basically four to seven years) (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). During preconceptual thinking, children start the formation of rudimentary concepts. Olson and Hergenhahn (2013), “they begin to classify things in certain classes because of their similarity, but they make a number of mistakes because of their concepts; thus, all men are “Daddy,” all women are “Mommy,” and all toys they see are “mine” (p. 275). Logic at this stage is transductive, instead of deductive or inductive. During the period of intuitive thought a child does not solve problems in accordance with any logical rules but rather intuitively. Also during this period a child lacks the ability to develop conversation. The “term” conversation refers to the ability of realizing that length, substance, number or area remains constant; even if presented in different ways.
This stage occurs from about seven years to 11 or 12 years. During which, children develop the abilities to conserve, deal with classes adequately. As well as develop the ability to deal with number concepts, and seriation, such as in the ability to arrange certain things from largest to smallest or smallest to largest (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). A child also has the ability of performing complex operations on problems; however, the problems cannot be abstract; they have to be concrete. During this stage, the thought processes of a child direct toward observable existing events.
This stage occurs from about 11 or 12 years to 14 or 15 years. Children can deal with hypothetical situations, and his or her thought processes are not exclusively bound by what is existing and immediate at this stage (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). At this stage thinking is as logical as possible, and one’s mental apparatus is as sophisticated as possible. Although there is the ability to direct this apparatus toward the solution one’s never ceasing problems throughout life (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013).
Theoretical Concepts Associated with the Model
Theoretical concepts developed by Piaget are intelligence, schemata, assimilation, and accommodation, equilibration, and interiorization. Piaget described intelligence as a dynamic trait because the availability of an intelligent act changes as an organism biologically matures and can gain experience (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). Piaget thought of intelligence as a necessary part of any organism because every organism seeks intelligent conditions, which are beneficial to the survival of said organisms. Exactly how intelligence exhibits itself during any point and time inevitable varies as conditions vary (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). A schema, as thought of by Piaget is an element in cognitive structure of an organism. An organism’s available schemata, determines how said organism may respond to the physical environment (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013).
Olson & Hergenhahn (2013), “schemata can manifest themselves in overt behavior, as in the case of the grasping reflex, or they can manifest themselves covertly” (p. 271). Assimilation and accommodation identify two types of learning experience and both are involve the storage and acquisition of information (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). Basically, assimilation is a static type of learning, which has limitations because of the present cognitive structure, and accommodation is a continuing steadily growth of the cognitive structure, which changes the character of any subsequent learning (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013).
Equilibration, as thought of by Piaget is the motivating force behind intellectual growth. Piaget made the assumption that every organism had an inherent tendency to develop a harmonious relationship between their environment and themselves. Equilibration is the inherent inclination to organize one’s experiences ensuring maximal adaptation. Practically, equilibration is the continual drive toward balance or equilibrium. Interiorization is a gradual decrease in dependence on the physical environment and the increased utilization of cognitive structures (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2013). It is the process that adaptive actions develop into increasingly covert instead of overt.
Modern-day Relevancy of the Model
Today, areas of psychology, sociology, education, and genetics continue to study Piaget's theories. Piaget’s work continues to contribute to the understanding of cognitive development in children and how to educate children effectively. Earlier researchers often viewed children as version of adults but smaller versions. Through Piaget’s theories he helped to demonstrate childhood is a special and important human development period. Piaget’s work is influential and continues to influence students and psychologists.
Developmental psychologist Piaget’s career and work had an effect on education and psychology in a profound way. Piaget made several contributions to learning and to cognition, such as his stages of intellectual development, which describe the cognitive development of children. Piaget’s models and theoretical concepts helped to understand the cognitive abilities of children; who indeed differ from adults and their cognitive abilities differ. Said models and theoretical concepts still have a modern-day relevancy all these years later.
Olson, M. H. & Hergenhahn, B. R. (2013). An introduction to theories of learning (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Kuhn, D. (1979). The application of piaget's theory of cognitive development to education. Harvard Educational Review, 49(3), 340-60.