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Piaget's Theory


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Piaget's Theory

  1. 1. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
  2. 2. Piaget (1896 - 1980) • Swiss Psychologist, worked for several decades on understanding children’s cognitive development • Most widely known theory of cognitive development. • Was intrigued by kids’ thoughts & behavior, & worked to understand their cognitive development
  3. 3. Background • Young Piaget was incredibly precocious – Published first paper at 10 – Wrote on mollusks, based on these writings was asked to be curator of mollusks at a museum in Geneva (he declined in order to finish secondary school) – Earned his doctorate in natural sciences at 21 – Began to study psychology, applying intelligence tests to school children
  4. 4. Constructivism • Assumption that learning is an active process of construction rather than a passive assimilation of information or rote memorization. • Credited for founding constructivism • Has had a large influence on American schools
  5. 5. Piaget and Constructivism • Best known for idea that individuals construct their understanding, that learning is a constructive process – Active learning as opposed to simply absorbing info from a teacher, book, etc. – The child is seen as a ‘little scientist’ constructing understandings of the world largely alone
  6. 6. Piaget & Constructivism • believed all learning is constructed, whether it is something we are taught or something we learn on our own. • Whether or not we are taught in a “constructivist” manner, Piaget believed we are constructing knowledge in all our learning.
  7. 7. Piaget & Learning • Two main states – equilibrium & disequilibrium • Believed that we are driven or motivated to learn when we are in disequilibrium We want to understand things The level of disequilibrium must be just right or optimal – too little and we are not interested in changing, too much and we may be anxious to change.
  8. 8. Piaget & Learning • Equilibration: the act of searching for balance • assimilation & accommodation • We adjust our ideas to make sense of reality • Assimilation: • process of matching external reality to an existing cognitive structure. • Ex. The first time many children see a skunk, they call it a “kitty”. They try to match the new experience with an existing scheme for identifying animals.
  9. 9. Piaget & Learning • Accommodation: • When there’s an inconsistency between the learner’s cognitive structure & the thing being learned the child will reorganize his/her thoughts • Example: Children demonstrate accommodation when they add the scheme for recognizing skunks to their other systems for identifying animals.
  10. 10. Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development • A child’s capacity to understand certain concepts is based on the child’s developmental stage
  11. 11. Piaget’s Four Stages • Believed that all children develop according to four stages based on how they see the world. – He thought the age may vary some, but that we all go through the stages in the same order. 1. Sensori-motor (birth –2 years) 2. Preoperational (2-7) 3. Concrete operational (7-11) 4. Formal operations (11-adult)
  12. 12. I. Sensorimotor Stage • Birth to about 2 years, rapid change is seen throughout • The child will: – Explore the world through senses & motor activity – Early on, baby can’t tell difference between themselves & the environment – Can later follow something with their eyes; begins to recognize that objects do not cease to exist when they are hidden – Moves from reflex actions to goal-directed activity
  13. 13. II. Preoperational Stage • About 2 to about 7 – Better speech communication – Develop basic numerical abilities – Still pretty egocentric (not selfish) but as difficulties seeing another person’s point of view. – Learning to be able to delay gratification – Can’t understand conservation of matter
  14. 14. II. Preoperational (27) • Conservation of matter – understanding that something doesn’t change even though it looks different, shape is not related to quantity • Ex: Are ten coins set in a long line more than ten coins in a pile? • Ex: Is there less water if it is poured into a bigger container?
  15. 15. Piaget’s PreOperational Stage Inability to understand conservation of matter.
  16. 16. Guidelines: Teaching the Preoperational Child Use concrete props and visual aids whenever possible Examples: 1. When you discuss concepts such as “part,” “whole,” or “one-half,” use shapes on a felt board or cardboard “pizzas” to demonstrate. 2. Let children add and subtract with sticks, rocks, or colored chips. This technique also is helpful for early concrete-operational students.
  17. 17. Guidelines: Teaching the Preoperational Child Make instructions relatively short-not too many steps at once. Use actions as well as words. 1. When giving instructions about how to enter the room after recess and prepare for social studies, ask a student to demonstrate the procedure for the rest of the class by walking in quietly, going straight to his or her seat, and placing the book, paper, and pencil on his or her desk. 2. Explain the game by acting out one of the parts.
  18. 18. Exercise • Help students develop their ability to see the world from someone else’s point of view. • Relate social studies lessons about different people or places back to the children’s experiences, pointing out similarities and differences.
  19. 19. III. Concrete Operational Stage • From about 7 to about 11 – Able to solve concrete (hands-on) problems in logical fashion. – Understands laws of conservation and is able to classify.
  20. 20. GUIDELINES: Teaching the Concrete-Operational Child Continue to use concrete props and visual aids, especially when dealing with sophisticated material. Examples: 1. Use time lines in history and 3-dimensional models in Science. 2. Use diagrams to illustrate hierarchical relationships such as branches of government and the agencies under each branch.
  21. 21. Exercise: • Use familiar examples to explain more complex ideas. • Compare students’ lives with those of characters in a story.
  22. 22. IV. Formal Operations • From 11- adult – Able to solve abstract problems in logical fashion. – Becomes more scientific in thinking. – Develops concerns about social issues, identity.
  23. 23. GUIDELINES: Helping Students to Use Formal Operations Continue to use concrete-operational teaching strategies and materials. Examples: 1. Use visual aids such as charts and illustrations as well as somewhat more sophisticated graphs and diagrams, especially when the material is new. 2. Compare the experiences of characters in stories to student’s experiences.
  24. 24. Exercise: • Give students the opportunity to explore many hypothetical questions. • Have students write position papers, then exchange these papers with the opposing side and debate topical social issues-the environment, the economy, etc.
  25. 25. Piaget’s Development • Development happens from one stage to another through interaction with the environment. • Kids will differ in how long they are in each stage. • Development leads to learning – Drive for development is internal – The child can only learn certain things when she is at the right developmental stage – Environmental factors can influence but not direct development – Development will happen naturally through regular interaction with social environment
  26. 26. Piaget & Education • Piaget did not think it was possible to hurry along or skip stages through education
  27. 27. Limitations of Piaget’s Theory • Children often grasp ideas earlier than what Piaget found • Cognitive development across domains is inconsistent (e.g. better at reading than math) • Studies have shown that development can to some degree be accelerated • Overlooking cultural factors
  28. 28. Reflect: • A group of vocal parents wants you to introduce workbooks to teach basic arithmetic in your class for 4- and 5-year-olds. They seem to think that “play” with blocks, water, sand, clay, and so on is “wasted time.” How would you respond?