Piaget Piaget’s theory covers how our thinking develops as we move from being a baby to being an adult. Because it covers the development of thinking, it is called a theory of “cognitive development.”
Piaget Understanding Piaget’s theory is very important. Concepts to focus on: Equilibrium and related concepts (adaptation, accommodation, assimilation, schemas), Stages of development (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, formal operational), aspects of cognition (reversibility, decentering, egocentrism, conserving), Applications to classroom. “Piaget” is pronounced /pee-ah-ZHAY/
Schema A schema is our understanding of a concept—the network of knowledge and understanding in our minds we have related to an idea. Sometimes our schemas can be applied to new situations and sometimes our schemas are not sufficient for a new situation.
Piaget’s theory explains how our schemas change as we have learning experiences. Schema fur 4 legs A baby’s schema about cats tail 2 ears 2 eyes
EquilibriumA state of cognitive balance between IN OTHER WORDS: Theindividuals’ understanding of the understanding you have explainsworld and their experiences. the experience you are having. Schemas and equilibrium: A person is experiencing equilibrium when his or Example of disequilibrium: When Galileo her theory (or scheme) of looked at the sky with his new telescope, something explains past what he observed was different from what he experiences successfully understood. He understood the sun to and predicts new events revolve around the earth. He observed that successfully. the movement of the stars did not support this idea. He had to figure out a new understanding to support his observations.
Equilibrium We all try to maintain equilibrium—it gives us a sense of being able to cope with the world. When an experience does not match our understanding, we experience distress in our disequilibrium. This distress drives us to ADAPT—either we adapt our understanding (accommodation) or we adapt our experiences (assimilation).Adaptation: the process of adjusting schemes and experiences to each other tomaintain equilibrium.
Schemes are mental patterns, operations, and systems. The process of forming and using schemes in an effort to understand how the world works is organization. Schemes and organization 2 ears Child says:A child’s scheme about “dog”: Child sees: Doggie!!! 2 ears tail fur doggie tail1. furry 2. 3. Moment of disequilibrium: Adaptation: accommodation scheme does not work! 2 ears tail 2 ears tail That’s not a doggie, doggie that’s a kitty. Kitty kitty says meow, doggie says bow wow furry bow wow furry meow4. 5. New scheme
Developing and Maintaining Equilibrium Scheme: mental patterns, operations, and systems—our understanding of the real world Interaction leads to disequilibrium and adaptation: assimilation and accommodation Experiences in the “real world” Scheme Experience Disequilibrium Accommodation The child’s A two year old This two year The parent definition of dog child believes old sees a cat says, “no, changes: a dog that dogs are and says, that’s not a has 4 legs, is four legged “Look at the doggie, that’s furry, and doesanimals with fur doggie!” a cat. not say “meow.”
Accommodation vs. AssimilationExperience Accommodation—a form of Assimilation—a form of adaptation adaptation in which an existing in which an experience in the scheme is modified and a new environment is incorporated into one is created in response to an existing scheme experienceIdentify animals Kitties and doggies are different Characteristics of kitty apply to other animals even though both are furry members of cat family (lion, tiger)Drive car Driving stick shift is different from I can drive a semi tractor because it driving automatic. I have to learn has a clutch and gear shift, just like my to use the clutch and gear shift. old Toyota carCook You can’t make a cake in a If I know how to cook one type of microwave pasta, I can apply that knowledge to other typesPlay music Brass instruments—you have to Once you know one brass instrument, learn how the harmonic overtone you can play the others using the same series works in order to play a horn knowledge
Accommodation vs. Assimilation Accommodation—you have to LEARN (or change your thinking) in order to ACCOMMODATE a new situation. A hotel provides accommodations— they CHANGE the sheets & other aspects of the room for each set of new guests. Assimilation—you can ASSIMILATE a new experience into your world by applying old knowledge. When you go into a new school or job, you try to ASSIMILATE to a degree so you fit in—you try to become “old news” and not something new and different.
Factors influencing development Experiences with the physical world. For example, after many experiences with concrete manipulatives, students can engage with abstract mathematical concepts. Social experience—the process of interacting— usually verbally—with others. In the slide on schemes, it was a verbal interaction between the mother and the child that helped the child to develop a new scheme for domestic animals.
Piaget’s Stages of Development Sensorimotor—a child at this age is learning how to deal with his or her body (senses and motor skills, or the ability to move the body) Preoperational—the child is not able YET to perform certain mental operations. Concrete Operational—the child is able to perform operations about things he or she can sense and handle (things that are concrete rather than abstract) Formal Operational—the person can handle all adult forms of thinking and reasoning.If you understand what the words mean, it will help you to remember the stages.
Visual learners: try to associate the pictures with the stage so you can remember the age. Sensorimotor Stage 0-2 years Children develop an understanding the world using their senses and physical abilities (motor capacities). Early in this stage, children do not have a sense of object permanence, that when something disappears it might still exist. Peek-a-boo is a game that gives children the experiences they need in order to develop object permanence. Older children are bored by this game because they already have a sense that objects that are not visible still exist. But children in the sensorimotor stage are learning this and are therefore fascinated by the game.
Semiotic function: the ability to use symbols—language, pictures, signs, orgestures—to represent actions or objects mentally. Pre-operational childrenare able to use symbols to represent things that are not present, a majoraccomplishment.Preoperational Stage 2-7 years Egocentrism—can only deal with own perspective Centration—focuses on single aspect of something Lacks transformation, reversability, and The point of this is that children this age are systematic reasoning. not capable of doing certain types of thinking. Children fundamentally think differently from Cannot conserve adults.
A special note on egocentrism You mean the world doesn’t revolve around me?Ego: Latin for “I”Centrism: “center”Everything is centered around me. This is how children think—and no wonder, sincethis is their experience as babies. As we grow up, we have to learn that other peopleexist and their needs are just as legitimate as ours.
Characteristics of pre-operational thinking Egocentrism—the inability to interpret an event from someone else’s point of view. Centration (centering)—the tendency to focus on the most perceptually obvious aspect of an object or event to the exclusion of all others. A tall thin glass holds more liquid in it than a wide tumbler because of the height. Transformation—the ability to mentally trace the process of changing from one state to another. Shell games play on this ability (or inability). Reversability—the ability to mentally trace a line of reasoning back to its beginning. Systematic reasoning—the process of using logical thought to reach a conclusion. This process is not fully available to thinkers until formal operations. Semiotic function—the ability to work with symbols (a major accomplishment of pre-operational thinkers) Collective monologue—children of this age will talk about what they are doing without really being involved in a conversation with others.The last three depend on being able to hold a thought about something that is differentfrom immediate concrete experience. Remember, little kids fundamentally thinkdifferently from older people.
ConservationPour the sameamount of water intotwo differently-shaped glasses. Achild who cannotconserve will thinkthat the one on theright has more waterin it because it istaller. Conservation: the idea that the “amount” of some substance stays the same regardless of its shape or the number of pieces into which it is divided.
Concrete Operational Stage 7-11 years Can think logically about concrete objects Can transform, reverse, and use systematic reasoning as long as the objects about which they are thinking are present.When I was in second grade, I got in trouble for counting on my fingers (I promptlydeveloped a way of counting on my fingers which wasn’t so obvious to the teacher).Math teachers today recognize that second graders need concrete objects(manipulables) in order to learn the operations of mathematics.
Characteristics of thinking thatdevelop during concrete operations Seriation: the ability to order objects according to increasing or decreasing length, weight, or volume Classification: the process of grouping objects on the basis of a common characteristic Identity: if nothing is added or taken away, a material stays the same Compensation: a change in one direction can be compensated for through a change in another direction. Decentering: can focus on more than one aspect at a time.
Formal Operational Stage 11-Adult Can think abstractly (does not need to have concrete objects available). Can think systematically and hypothetically (what if…).Remember that thinking abstractly depends not just on cognitive maturation but also onhaving a certain amount of concrete experience. Older students and adults may need towork concretely on something new before moving into the abstract.
Adolescent egocentrism The assumption that everyone else shares one’s thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Adolescents often have the feeling that everyone is watching what they are doing. This contributes to their strong feelings when they make a mistake (e.g., wearing the wrong clothes).
Comparing concrete and formal operational thinking Flavell’s Formal Operational Concrete Operational characteristics of Thinker Thinker formal thought Abstract thinking Can describe the meaning of Tends to view ideas concretely abstract ideas, such as “make hay and literally, such as concluding while the sun shines” to conclude “you need to harvest hay during something such as “take an the daylight hours.” opportunity when it’s given.” Can deal with metaphors. Systematic Systematically examines the Randomly chooses variables and possible influence of multiple tries them out, often changing strategies factors in a given situation (science more than one. experiment, for instance). Hypothetical and Can consider hypothetical questions Cannot consider hypothetical and reason from there. questions. Tends to get deductive thinking confused by them.Hypothetico-deductive reasoning: a formal-operations problem-solving strategy inwhich an individual begins by identifying all the factors that might affect a problem andthen deduces and systematically evaluates specific solutions.
Neo-Piagetian theories Uses information processing theory (attention, memory, and strategy use) in conjunction with Piaget’s ideas about how children think and construct knowledge.
Limitations of Piaget’s Theory Children develop aspects of conservation at different ages—understanding that a line of blocks spread out doesn’t change the number of blocks occurs before understanding that a ball of clay doesn’t change when it is flattened out. Development isn’t sudden as a stage theory might suggest—there are subtle changes that happen gradually in a child’s thinking.
Limitations of Piaget’s theory Piaget may have underestimated what young children can do. Very young children can keep track of three or four items and may be able to conserve when a small number of things are used. Piaget’s theory does not explain how some youngsters are able to think abstractly (such as children who are expert chess players).
Limitations of Piaget’s theory The theory does not account for the effect of culture on cognition. Western people go through something like Piaget’s stages because our schools and culture demand this type of thinking. But this kind of thinking may not be characteristic of mature people in other cultures.
Relationship of Development and LearningDevelopment Piaget Learning Piaget: development precedes learning. Development is creating the schemes through adaptation and accommodation while learning is creating the associations within the schemes..
Implications for teachers: Piaget We need to understand and build on student thinking. Students need opportunities to construct their knowledge—to try things out for themselves. “Play is children’s work” (Montessori). Play helps children to develop their cognitive abilities.