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Worsham j 504_paper01_final.doc


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Worsham j 504_paper01_final.doc

  1. 1. Jean Piaget's Stage theory of Cognitive Development has greatly impacted both developmental psychology and twentieth-century education. This theory describes the findings of Piaget's research on how knowledge is developed in human organisms. Piaget found that children process new information in four different ways depending on their stage of cognitive development. The four stages are: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations CITATION Web80 l 1033 (Webb, 1980). These stages must occur progressively from sensorimotor through formal operations. This is due to the building upon and restructuring of each stage as a child advances to the next. The development of cognitive structures, or learning, is an active and ongoing process CITATION Hin07 l 1033 (Hinde, 2007). One would conclude that this theory fits well in constructivism. <br />During the author's research of this theory, it was not noted that Piaget gave credit to anyone else for its development. Each source for this paper noted the importance of this theory to multiple fields of study. Because he was the sole developer however, many critics responded harshly CITATION Lou96 l 1033 (Lourenco, 1996). <br />The major principles of this theory describe how children construct knowledge within each stage. During the sensorimotor period, which starts at birth and lasts until approximately two years of age, a child uses her senses and develops motor skills to explore her surrounding environment CITATION Web80 l 1033 (Webb, 1980). "During the preoperational stage, from about two to seven years, the child is perceptually bound; he is unable to reason logically concerning concepts that are discrepant from visual clues" CITATION Web80 p 94 l 1033 (Webb, 1980, p. 94). At age seven, the child moves into the concrete operational stage and will stay there until age eleven. During this stage, the child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences. Finally, after age 11, a child reaches the formal operations stage. This stage is characterized by abstract thinking and the ability to manipulate concepts using propositions and hypotheses CITATION Web80 l 1033 (Webb, 1980). One unique aspect of this theory is that not everyone will reach the final stage of formal operations. <br />Piaget's theory of cognitive development has resonated in the minds and practice of teachers for over 50 years CITATION Hin07 l 1033 (Hinde, 2007). Elementary school teachers use this theory to plan and implement curriculum. The reverse can be true as well. Elementary school teachers in Arizona used this theory to refute educational reform initiatives that were beyond the development stage of their students. The state was requiring that kindergarten through third grade be taught historical concepts and the teachers used this theory to provide an evidence based argument that historical concepts were beyond children in Piaget's preoperational stage. One example of a concept to be learned in second grade was to describe how the colonists demonstrated their discontent with British Rule CITATION Hin07 l 1033 (Hinde, 2007). Despite the research based opposition by local teachers, the state went ahead with the reform CITATION Hin07 l 1033 (Hinde, 2007). <br />One might ask the question: how does this theory relate to educational technology? The first relationship exists in instructional design. This theory points out to instructional designers that learners in the preoperational stage need visual clues and concrete examples to construct knowledge. It can also help teachers who must make accommodations for special needs students old enough to be in the concrete operational stage, but are cognitively preoperational. The second connection is how technology can be used to provide learners with visual clues and even simulations of experiences to help them construct knowledge. For example this author teaches about the negative effects of tobacco on the human body. It is possible through the use of technology to create a visual simulation of the transformation of healthy lungs into the diseased lungs of a long term smoker. This visualization would be far more stimulating than before and after pictures in a textbook. Finally, this theory provided others inspiration for further study. <br />References<br /> BIBLIOGRAPHY Hinde, E. R. (2007). Elementary Teachers' Application of Jean Piaget's Theories of Cognitive Development during Social Studies Curriculum Debates in Arizona. Elementary School Journal , 63-79.Lourenco, O. M. (1996). In defense of Piaget's theory: A reply to 10 common criticisms. Psychological Review , 143.Webb, P. K. (1980). Piaget: Implications for Teaching. Theory Into Practice , 93.<br />