MEM 505: CHILD AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 1
COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Theories of Cognitive Development
Cognitive development is gradual, systematic changes by which mental
process become more complex and refined. Establishment of new schemes is
essential in cognitive development.
Piaget’s Main Tenet: The Child Actively Seeks Knowledge
Jean Piaget viewed children as constructivists, meaning they are active
seekers who respond to the environment according to their understanding of its
essential features. He also believed that intelligence was not random but it was a set
of organized cognitive structures that the child actively constructed, and viewed
intelligence as basic life function that helps the child to adapt to his environment.
According to Piaget, human beings inherit two essential intellectual functions
which he called organization and adaptation.
1. Organization is inborn and automatic, and it refers to the child’s tendency
to arrange available schemata into coherent systems or body of
knowledge. Children are constantly rearranging their existing knowledge
to produce new and more complex cognitive structures (Gines, et al.,
2. Adaptation is the child’s tendency to adjust to the demands of the
environment. This occurs in two ways:
a. Assimilation is interpreting or understanding environment events in
terms of one’s existing cognitive structures and ways of thinking.
b. Accommodation is changing one’s existing cognitive structures and
ways of thinking to apprehend environment events.
Stages of Cognitive Development
Piaget divided cognitive development into four stages: sensorimotor,
preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. He outlined this theory
that follows an increasingly adaptive behavior mechanism from diffused to
generalized responses of the patterns of behavior. He said that all children pass
through these stages in this order and that no child can skip a stage. However,
different children may pass through the stages at somewhat different rates.
1. Sensorimotor Stage (Birth to 2 years).
During this stage, children acquire knowledge through sensory
experiences and performing actions accordingly. This is entirely unconscious,
self-unaware, and non-symbolic cognition. There are six divisions of this stage:
a. Reflexes (0 to 1 month). These refer to the behavioural foundation upon
which more complex behaviors are based. They develop when applied to a
wider variety of stimuli and events e.g. sucking and modify with
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b. Schemes (1 to 4 months). These refer to an organized pattern of behavior
which the child interacts and comes to know his world e.g. sucking and
grasping. This substage coordinates and integrates previously
independent schemes such as visual and auditory. Moreover, schemes are
directed inward e.g. grasp for the sake of its grasping than on the effect it
has on the world.
c. Procedure (4 to 8 months). The schemes are directed outward and
develop into procedures of interesting behaviors that produce interesting
effects in the world. Procedure gets repeated e.g. banging on a pot with a
d. Intentional Behavior (8-12 months). Prior to this substage, child produces
some outcome from his behavior and repeats it. Now, the child wants to
produce a particular result then figures out the action.
e. Experimentation (12-18 months). Experimentation is the child’s trial-and-
error exploration of the world to discover new and different ways of
acting on it. Here the child produces new actions and observes the effects
e.g. pulling the rug to get an out-of-reach object.
f. Representation (18-24 months). Before this substage, all actions and
results occur externally. In this substage, the child begins to think about
and acting on the world internally e.g. naming an object that is not
currently present but is just thought of. Besides, the child witnesses an
action but does not reproduce it and he reproduces the witnessed action
at a later time. This is called deferred imitation.
2. Preoperational Stage (2 to 6 years).
During this stage, children develop their capacity to employ symbol,
particularly language. Because of symbols, they are no longer limited to the
stimuli that are immediately present and they use these symbols to portray
the external world internally e.g. child can talk about the ball and can form a
mental image of it. In stage, children also develop their ability to conserve the
qualitative and quantitative identify of objects even when they change
3. Concrete Operational Stage (6-12 years).
Children are more logical and able to complete task not able to
perform in preoperational period. Thinking is still with real or concrete objects
and actions, and not yet abstract thinking.
This is the beginning of rational activity in children. They come to
master various logical operations including arithmetic, class and set
relationships, measurement, and conceptions of hierarchical structures
(Gines, et al., 1998). Child mastered by age 6 the Conservation of Number and
he mastered by age 8 or 9 the Conservation of Length and Weight.
4. Formal Operational Stage (12 years and over)
Children develop their abstract thinking. It is their ability to think
logically about things that are only possible and not necessarily real or
concrete. They also develop their hypothetical-deductive reasoning.
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Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory of Cognitive Development
Lev S. Vygotsky’s theory emphasizes that social interaction plays a vital role in
cognitive development. His theory basically means that development depends on
interaction with people and the tools that the culture provides to help form their
own view of the world (Gallagher , 1999).
These cultural tools can be transmitted to three ways. These are:
1. Imitative Learning- a person tries to imitate or copy another person.
2. Instructed Learning- a person remembers the instructions of the teacher and
then uses them to self-regulate.
3. Collaborative Learning- a group of person who strive to understand each
other and they work together to learn a specific skills.
He believed that children are born with elementary mental abilities such as
perception, attention and memory. These innate abilities transforms into higher
mental functions as children interact with their culture and society (Meece, 2002).
His theory also states that language plays a vital role in cognitive
development. Within his theory, he identified three stages in children’s use of
1. Social speech- speech used by children for purpose of communication to other
2. Egocentric speech- speech that is more intellectual and children use this by
verbalizing their ideas.
3. Inner speech- speech used by children to think in their minds about their
problem or task, instead of verbalizing their ideas in order to solve their
problem or to decide what to do next.
His Socio-Cultural Theory also refers to the difference between what a learner
can do independently and what can be done with other’s guidance. He called this as
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). He assumed that interactions with adults or
peers in the zone of proximal development help children move to higher levels of
mental functioning within the classroom (Meece, 2002).
The implications of Vygotsky’s theory to education are to encourage
cooperative learning exercises and to engage student in the discovery process with
guidance from knowledgeable source. He suggests that teachers use cooperative
learning exercises where less competent children develop with the aid from more
adept peers within the zone of proximal development. He believed that when a
student is at the ZPD for a particular task, providing the appropriate assistance, will
give the student enough of a “boost” to achieve his goal or to complete the task
ZPD is associated with scaffolding. The concept of scaffolding was introduced
by Wood and Middleton. It is defined as a learner to concentrate on those elements
of the task that are initially beyond his capacity and complete only those elements
that are within his range of competence. According to Wood and Middleton,
scaffolding becomes most effective when the assistance is correlated to the needs of
the learner (McLeod, 2012).
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Meece has provided some of the major contributions of Vygotsky’s theories
to education. His theory gives insight to role of private speech and peer interactions
in cognitive development and explains the significance of guided participation and
scaffolding (Meece, 2002).
Furthermore, he also emphasized in his theory that three factors that shape
children’s behavior, and these are called ecological contexts.
1. Cultural Contexts- He said that one’s culture comprises the environment
that humans have created and continue to perpetuate in their caregiving
practice. Culture consists of human designs for living, which are embodied
in beliefs, values, customs, and activities.
2. Social Contexts- He believed that learning occurs through interpersonal,
social context. Thinking, as he defined, is a process of social interaction
between children and more experienced and knowledgeable members of
community. This social interaction helps them to master culture-specific
skills and develop their behaviors that will enable them to successfully
adapt to their particular community.
3. Historical contexts- His viewpoint, the child’s environment which he is
reared and his own developmental history in terms of his experiences in
that society are both significant in identifying the ways in which the child
will think. Conceptual thinking must be transmitted to children through
words, thus language becomes a crucial cognitive tool for deciding how
children learn to think (Owens, 2006).
Exponents of this theory perceive that we are a processor of information. It
means that we are not merely responding to stimuli rather we process the
information we receive. They equate our mind to a computer, which receives
information and follows a certain program to produce an output.
Structure of the Information-Processing System
The standard information-process model has three major components:
sensory memory, working memory or short-term memory, and long-term memory
Figure 1: Model of Memory Systems
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1. Sensory Memory
Environment is the source of variety of stimuli. In psychology, stimulus
is an energy pattern which is recorded by our senses such light, sound, heat,
cold, etc. Human body has special sensory receptor cells that transduce
external stimulus to electrical energy so the brain can understand. This
process of transduction creates memory.
Each sensory system has its own sensory register which receives and
temporary stores all of the stimuli. The sensory register stores sensory
information for a while, then analyzes it to identify whether the sensory input
should be conveyed into working or short-term memory or should be
forgotten. (See diagram 1)
It is absolutely critical that the individual attend to the information at
this first stage in order to transmit it to the second stage. Transmission of
sensory information to working memory can be done if the stimulus has a
stimulating effect to the individual or the stimulus activates a known pattern.
2. Working Memory or Short-Term Memory
It is believed to be the center of conscious thought, compare to a
computer it is the Central Processing Unit (CPU) or using the concept of
Sigmund Freud it is the conscious memory. As individual pays attention to an
external stimulus or internal thought, working memory is created. Processing
of information may take around 15 to 20 seconds unless it is repeated or
rehearsed at which point it may take up to 20 minutes.
RetrievalEncoding & Elaboration
Rehearsal / Repetition
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Working memory has subsystems that store and process verbal
information and visual images. It also supervises the coordination of
subsystems that includes awareness of the follow of information into and out
of the memory and visual representation of the possible moves, all stored for
a limited amount of time.
The short-term has a limited capacity, which can be readily
demonstrated by simple expedient of trying to remember a list of random
items without allowing repetition. In the experiments conducted by George
Miller in 1956, he gave the number 7 + 2, which he described as the “magical
number” or sometimes referred to as Miller’s Law however latest study
proposes the number may be more like 5 + 2 for most things we are trying to
recall. The number of objects an average human can hold in working memory,
also called memory span, varies in how much individuals can work with
One of technique for retaining and retrieving information in short-term
memory, and it also the method used to get information into long-term
memory is chunking. Chunking of information helps to the capacity of short-
term memory. It is the organization of pieces of information into shorter
meaningful units to make it more manageable. For example, it is easier to
recall 0917-571-4380 rather than 09175714380.
3. Long-Term Memory
Long-term memory is responsible of storing information over a long
period of time. It encodes information for storage semantically- based on
meaning and association. However, some studies suggest that it also encodes
to some extend by acoustic. For example, when we are trying to recall a word,
we try to associate by a certain sound. Short-term memory can be become
long-term memory through the process of organization involving repetition
and meaningful association (Mastin, 2010).
There are two major memory strategies:
1. Rehearsal- A memory strategy that involves repeating the words or
information to be remembered or recalled either verbally or
2. Retrieval- A memory strategy that gets information out of the long-
Two common forms of retrieving the information: recognition
and recall. Recognition is a form of retrieval that involves noticing
whether a stimulus is identical or similar to one previously
experienced, and recall is a form of retrieval that involves
remembering or recalling a stimulus that is not present (Owens,
Individual Differences: Theories of Intelligence that Influence Individual Differences
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Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Robert Sternberg, a psychologist, defined intelligence as “mental activity
directed toward purposive adaptation to, selection and shaping of, real-world
environments relevant to one’s life. (Stenberg, 1985)” To him, successful intelligence
has less to do with the success in the classroom but more to do with the success in
the real-world. Besides, he proposed that successful intelligence comprises of three
different factors and that successfully intelligent people learn to balance these
1. Analytical or componential intelligence. This aspect of intelligence allows a
person to process information effectively and think abstractly, and it also
refers to problem-solving abilities.
2. Creative or experiential intelligence. This aspect of intelligence allows a
person to come up with new ideas by combining seemingly unrelated
information or facts based from past experiences and present skills. People
high in creative intelligence can ﬁnd connections between concepts that seem
different and distinct.
3. Practical or contextual intelligence. This aspect of intelligence allows a person
to adapt to dynamic environment and to discover practical solutions to real
problems. People with this intelligence are often referred as “street smart.”
Figure 2: Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Application to Education
Sternberg believes that these types of intelligence can be developed, and
students learn better if the way they are taught matches their learning ability.
1. To develop student’s analytical intelligence, teachers can ask them to
analyze, critique, compare and contrast, evaluate, and assess.
2. To develop student’s creative intelligence, teachers can ask them to
create, discover, invent, imagine, and predict what might happen
3. To develop student’s practical intelligence, teachers can ask them to put
into practice, apply, use, implement, or employ. This teaching orientation
is effective in
The Gender Schema Theory
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The gender schema theory was developed by Carol Martin and Charles
Halverson. This theory derives from information-processing approaches to cognitive
development and features social learning and cognitive theories. They suggest that
children’s motivation to behave in gender appropriate ways derives from their
Owens (2006) defines gender schema as a pattern of beliefs and stereotypes
about gender that children use to organize information about gender-related
characteristics, experiences, and expectations. Gender is a salient characteristic in
children’s world, relating both themselves and to others. Therefore, it is used to
organize information in a place that may be used by older and more knowledgeable
According to the proponents of this theory, they suggest that sex stereotypes
serve as schemata to organize and structure social information. Acceptance of
maleness or femaleness starts by age 2 or 3 and readily incorporates stereotyped
views by play activities, roles and behaviors appropriate to their gender.
This theory emphasizes that boys should do boy-related activities like playing
toy trucks and girls should do girl-related activities like playing dolls. This will help
children to identify their gender and reliably put themselves in the appropriately
gender-related category and not in other group (Owens, 2006).
Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence
Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that intelligence is
not a single intellectual capacity but it has eight different capacities.
1. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence
It is well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms
and meanings of words. Roles: teachers, editors, journalists, radio
2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
It is the ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to
detect logical or numerical patterns. Roles: engineers, programmers,
3. Spatial-Visual Intelligence
It is the ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately and
abstractly, to do changes on those perceptions, and to re-create aspects of
visual experiences in the absence of pertinent stimuli. Roles: sculptors,
4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
It is the ability to control one’s body movements and the ability to
handle objects skilfully. Roles: athletes, dancers, nurses, geologists
5. Musical Intelligence
It is the ability to produce and appreciate pitch, rhythm, melody, and
aesthetic sounding tones and the ability to understand the forms of musical
expressiveness. Roles: singers, DJs, violists, song composers
6. Interpersonal Intelligence
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It is the capacity to discern and respond appropriately to the moods,
temperaments, motivations and desires of others. Roles: psychologists,
politicians, therapists, salesmen
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence
It is the capacity to be self-aware and in-tune with inner feelings and to
use these feelings to guide one’s own behavior, and knowledge of one’s own
strengths, weaknesses, desires, and intelligences. Roles: person who is self-
aware and involved in the process of changing personal thoughts, beliefs, and
behavior in relation to their situation.
8. Naturalist Intelligence
It is the ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other
objects in nature or appreciate the world and nature. Roles: zoologists,
Achievement Motivation and Intellectual Performance
Achievement motivation is a person’s tendency to strive for successful
performance, to assess one’s performance against specific standards of excellent
and to experience pleasure as a result of having performed successfully.
The achievement motivation is premised on the fact that a person needs to
experience a certain degree of achievement essential for himself in school, sports,
occupation, and business for self-esteem and social approval. A person with high
achievement motivation tends to choose challenging activities (Zulueta & Malaya,
McClelland’s Achievement Motivation Theory
David McClelland achievement motivation theory suggests that there are
certain needs that are learned and socially acquires as the person interacts with his
environment. According to him, there are three needs and he classified them as need
of power, needs of affiliation, and need for achievement.
1. Needs of Power. This need indicates person’s to control and influence other’s
2. Needs of Affiliation. This needs shows person’s desire for affection and to
establish friendly relationships.
3. Need for achievement. This need implies person’s desire to succeed in a
competitive situation and his desire to prove his superiority over others.
Factors Affecting Development
Three Factors which Affect Modern Development: Psychologist’s Point of Age-
A. Universal Changes
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Universal changes are changes that all individuals undergo as biological
organisms. All individuals experience the process of growth and maturation as
they grow older.
B. Group – Specific Changes
Group-specific changes are changes manifested and observed from
members growing up together in a particular group and hence influenced by
the dominant culture. This includes a system of meaning, customs, languages,
values, attitudes, attitudes, traits, laws, beliefs, and moral guidelines.
C. Individual Changes
These changes are typical of particular individuals and they result from
unique, unshared events. Every individual is unique, a product of a unique
combination of genes which sets him apart from anyone.
Atypical Change is a kind of individual change that is detrimental to
individual. This change comes from the influence of genes and environment.
Mental development of an individual is impaired due to chromosome
abnormality, or visual impairment due to abuse of drugs.
Theoretical Perspective on Development
A. The Psychoanalytical Perspective
Psychoanalytic Theory: Sigmund Freud’s Pleasure-Seeking Child
Sigmund Freud formulated his psychoanalytic theory on an intuitive
basis, drawn from his observation and notes that he made about life histories
of his mentally disturbed patients.
The major tenets of his theory pertained to children’s sexual and
aggressive desire, the importance of early experiences as determinants of
later development, and to ways the unconscious mind- the seething cauldron
of our innate pleasurable instinct that influences our adult behavior (Owens,
The Three Basic Elements of Personality
According to Freud, our mind is made up of the id, ego, and superego.
The goal of the psyche is to maintain or regain an acceptable level of dynamic
equilibrium that maximizes pleasure and minimizes tension (Limpingco & Tria,
1. Id- It is our conscious mind and contains our human motives and emotions
such as love, aggression, fear, and so on. It operates by the pleasure
principle- by seeking immediate gratification of instinctual needs.
2. Ego- It is the rational level of personality and emerges when psychic
energy is diverted from the id to energize the important cognitive
processes such as perception, learning and logical reasoning (Gines, et al.,
1998).It also functions as the executive in dealing with real-life events and
balances irrational demands from the id and the higher guidance of
superego (Owens, 2006).
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3. Superego- t is the judicial branch of the personality, person’s moral arbiter.
It reminds us of our dos and don’ts. It sets out a series of guidelines that
define and limit the flexibility of the ego.
Psychosexual Stages of Development
Freud believed that all human beings pass through a series of
psychosexual stages, each stage dominated by the development of sensitivity
in a particular erogenous or pleasure-giving spot in the body. In addition, each
stage provides individuals a unique conflict that they must resolve before they
proceed to the higher stage.
Table 1: Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development
Oral Stage (birth to
Mouth, Gums Eating, biting,
Weaning- child weaning from his
mother’s breast or bottle too
early or too late.
Anal Stage (2 to 3
Toilet Training- child is severely
toilet trained or undertrained.
Phallic Stage (3 to 6
Oedipus Complex (Males) and
Electra Complex (Females)- chid
fails to identify with the same-sex
Latency Stage (6 to
None Directed to
Social interaction with others
Genital Stage (13
Establishing intimate relationships
Source: Limpingco, D. A. & Tria, G. E., 1999. Personality. 2nd ed. Quezon City: Ken Inc. (pp. 26)
Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages: Identity-Seeking Child
Erik Homburger Erikson discussed psychosocial stages and he came up
with the eight distinctive stages of Psycho-social development. He believed
that personality develops in a series of stages and describes the impact of
social experience across the whole lifespan.
In his Theory of Psychosocial Development, it centers on the
development of “ego identity”. It means our conscious sense of self that we
develop through social interaction. According to Erikson, our ego identity is
constantly changing due to the new experiences and information we acquire
in our daily interaction with others. Besides, he also believed that a sense of
competence motivates behaviors and actions. He was more concerned with
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becoming competent in an area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person
will feel a sense of mastery, which is sometimes referred to as “ego strength”
or “ego quality”. Otherwise, if the stage is handled poorly, the person will
emerge with a sense of inadequacy. However, it can be resolved successfully
at a later time.
Every stage of psychosocial development, people experience conflict
that serves as the turning point in human development also called crisis.
These conflicts focus either on developing a psychological quality or failing to
develop that quality. These are the stages of Psychosocial Development:
1. Trust Vs Mistrust (birth to 18 months). The infant is this stage develops
a sense of ambiguity on the world he or she lives. So as parents- the
first teachers, we need to provide reliability, care, and affection for our
children to develop their sense of trust. A lack of this will lead to
2. Autonomy Vs Sham and Doubt (18 months to 3 years). The child
discovers his or her skills and abilities. So as parents or teachers, we
need to encourage our child to becoming more independent whilst at
the same time protecting our child so that constant failure is
prevented. Success leads to feeling of autonomy, and failure results
feeling of shame and doubt.
3. Initiative Vs Guilt (3 to 5 years). The child begins to plan activities,
makes up games, and initiates activities with others. This is the stage
where child interacts regularly to other children at school. So as
parents or teachers, we need to give the opportunity to our child to
play or socialize to other children to develop his or her sense of
initiative, and feels secure in his or her ability to lead others and makes
decisions. Conversely, if this tendency is squelched, either through
criticism or control, child develops a sense of guilt. He or she may feel
like a nuisance to others and will therefore remain follower, lacking
4. Industry (Competence) Vs Inferiority (6 to 11 years). Child needs to
cope with social demands and academic demands. We, teachers, begin
to take a vital role in his or her life as we teach him or her specific skills.
If child is encouraged and reinforced for his or her initiative, he or she
begins to feel industrious and feels confident in his or her ability to
achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if we restricted them,
the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his or her own abilities and
therefore may not reach his or her potential.
5. Identity Vs Role Confusion (12 to 18 years). Child becomes adolescent.
He or She becomes more independent, and begins to look at the future
in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc. He or she wants
to belong to a society and fits in. During this stage, adolescent explores
possibilities and begins to form his or her own identity based upon the
outcome of his or her exploration. Our role as parents and teachers,
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we need to guide him or her and help them in overcoming his or her
crises or problems. Failure to establish a sense of identity within
society can lead to role confusion and will weaken his or her sense of
6. Intimacy Vs Isolation (19 to 40 years). Young adult begins to share
himself or herself more intimately to others. He or she explores
relationships leading toward longer term commitments with someone
other than a family member. We parents and teachers do not have
important role in this development. We just provide suggestions for
our young adult to have a successful relationship to someone else.
Success leads to strong and healthy relationship but failure results to
loneliness and isolation.
7. Generativity Vs Stagnation (40 to 65 years). Adult creates or nurtures
things that will outlast him or her, often by having their own children
or creating a positive change that benefits other people e.g. being
successful in his or her work by getting a promotion to help his family
in their financial need. Failing in this stage, adult becomes stagnant and
feels unproductive (shallow involvement in the world) but succeeding
in this stage results to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment.
8. Ego Integrity Vs Despair (65 years and over). Older adult tends to slow
down his or her productivity, and explores life as a retired person.
During this time, he or she contemplates his or her accomplishments
and is able to develop integrity if he or she sees himself or herself as
leading a successful life. Success at this stage leads to feeling of
wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.
B. Behaviorism and Social Learning Perspective
Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory: Imitating Child
Social cognitive learning theory which was proposed by Albert Bandura
has become the most influential theory of learning and development. His
theory added a social element, arguing that people can learn new information
and behaviors by watching other people known as observational learning or
modelling. It emphasizes the concept of imitation as a form of learning.
Learning according to this theory results from the ability of the child to select
the pattern of behavior to imitate.
Basic Concepts of Social Cognitive Learning Theory
1. People can learn through observation.
There are three basic models of observational learning: (1) a live model
which involves an actual individual demonstrating or acting out a behavior,
(2) a verbal instructional model which involves descriptions and
explanations of a behavior, and (3) a symbolic model which involves real or
fictional characters displaying behaviors in books, films, televisions,
programs, or online media.
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2. Mental states are important to learning.
He describes intrinsic reinforcement as a form of internal reward, such
as pride, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment.
3. Learning does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior.
Watson’s Classical Conditioning: Conditioned Child
John Broadus Watsons argued that any science of behavior must be
based on observable events, and his approach is known as behaviorism. His
work was heavily influenced by Ivan Pavlov who was first to demonstrate the
process of classical conditioning. It is a type of learning that results from the
repeated pairing of stimuli (Owens, 2006).
Skinner’s Operant Conditioning: Mechanical Child
A key concept in Burrhus Frederic Skinner’s system is the process of
operant conditioning. Operant conditioning, according to Skinner, is a process
of learning in which reinforced behaviors tend to be repeated and occur more
frequently (Owens, 2006). In other words, if a response is followed by a
reward, the response will be strengthened.
There are two processes in shaping the behavior: (1) the differential
reinforcement, which means that some responses are reinforced and some
are not, and (2) the successive approximation, which means that some
responses are reinforced successively and some are not. The successive
approximations that are reinforced are those that come increasingly closer to
the response ultimately desired (Limpingco & Tria, 1999).
Skinners also emphasized the importance of reward in shaping the
behavior. Reward is a form of positive reinforcement that will help to increase
the probability the desired behavior will recur. Punishment is a form of
negative reinforcement that will help to decrease the probability the
unpleasant behavior will not recur.
C. Environmental Perspective
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Contexts
Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system theory states that
development is the product of children’s relationship to their environment-
the features of their particular society or culture, and the social institutions
that affect the beliefs and behavior of parents and caregivers. This is often
referred as context.
His theory also emphasizes the five environmental subsystems that
affect the child’s development.
1. The Microsystem. This is innermost ecological system. It includes
family, peers, schools, and neighborhood. All relationships within it are
bidirectional and reciprocal; child’s environment actively shapes his
development, and the child actively shapes his environment. These
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relationships are foundation of child’s cognitive and emotional
2. The Mesosystem. This involves interconnections between microsystem:
interaction between family and teachers and relationship between
child’s peers and the family.
3. The Exosystem. This consists settings that indirectly affect a child’s
development such as parent’s workplace, city government, and mass
4. The Macrosystem. This involves ideologies of child’s culture. The values,
beliefs, customs and laws of a particular culture are environment
elements that influence child’s development. It also influences how
parents, teachers, and other caregivers rear a child.
5. The Chronosystem. This is the context of time and includes patterns of
stability and change in children’s environment over time (Owens,
The Intellectually Gifted
Intellectually gifted child is who deviates from the average child intellectually,
generally belongs to the 15 to 20 percent of the school population who perform
exceptionally in academic performance and have an IQ of 125 or above.
Characteristics of Intellectually Gifted Child (Zulueta & Malaya, 2012):
1. He learns very fast with minimum direction and grasps concepts easily.
2. He can readily understand what he reads and could retain and recall
principles and theories presented.
3. He organizes his thought systematically.
4. He recognizes relationships; thinks reflectively and critically.
5. He is aware of the various events in the environment that often children
do not take note.
6. He has a good command of language or several languages and dialects.
7. He has wide range of vocabulary words.
8. He accepts intellectual challenge and works on his mental tasks diligently.
9. He is curious of things and events and of people’s behavior.
10. He is creative and initiates activities.
11. He is original in ideas and concepts and has a way of present them.
12. He is a very keen observer; responds quickly and accurately.
13. He reasons out why things occur, how things exist, where things come
from and digs deeper in literature to get support his reasons.
14. He has a variety of interests on any subject.
Children with Intellectual Deficit
Child with intellectual deficit deviates from the average children intellectually.
Mentally retarded and slow learners are among this.
Characteristics of Child with Intellectual Deficit (Zulueta & Malaya, 2012):
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1. He has short attention span.
2. He finds difficulty in comprehending what he reads.
3. He cannot remember what he reads.
4. He asks questions irrelevant to the topic on hand.
5. The teachers made tests and standard tests’ results are low.
6. He shuns abstract and difficult mental tasks.
7. He is very slow in responding.
8. He needs close supervision in his activities.
9. He lacks inquisitiveness and desire to explore or investigate.
10. He is delayed in development- teething, walking and talking.
Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects development in females.
The most typical feature of Turner syndrome is short stature. Girls with this genetic
disorder are short as adults- rarely five feet tall. One-third of them have extra folds
on the neck called webbed neck, a low hairline at back of the neck, puffiness or
swelling of the hands and feet, skeletal abnormalities, or kidney problems. These girls
are born with heart defect that can be life-threatening. They are sterile because of
abnormalities in sexual development.
Turner syndrome develops when the sperm cell fails to produce sex
chromosomes and the zygote becomes female who has one instead of two
chromosomes, resulting in a total of 45 chromosomes, instead of having 46, normal
number of chromosomes.
Klinefelter syndrome is another chromosome abnormality resulting from one
extra X chromosome to a normal human male karyotype, having a total of 47
chromosomes. This is also known as 47, XXY or XXY males.
Males with this genetic disorder may have weaker muscles and reduced
strength. They tend to grow taller than average as they grow older, but they may
have less muscle control and coordination compare to other boys of their age. These
males are often infertile, or may have reduced fertility.
Klinefelter syndrome occurs when a normal ovum is fertilized by a sperm cell
that has both an X and Y chromosome instead of having only one or the other. This
produces a zygote with an extra X chromosomes, having a genetic structure of XXY.
Pervasive Development Disorder
Pervasive development disorder is characterized by delays in the development
of multiple basic functions such as communication and socialization. Pervasive
because these disorders significantly affect the individuals’ development throughout
their life span.
This disorder begins during infancy, but it is typically not identified until the
child is around age 3. PDD is classified into:
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A. Autistic Disorder or Autism. A condition in which children seem to lack the
ability to interact in emotionally meaningful ways with others, their language
development is delayed, and their behavior is often compulsive and ritualistic
B. Asperger’s Syndrome. It is an autism spectrum disorder named after Hans
Asperger, characterized by impaired social relationships but without language
retardation, together with repetitive patterns of behavior and interest.
Individuals with this condition show little cognitive impairment and they have
IQ within average range.
C. Rett’s Disorder. A neurodevelopmental disorder of the grey matter of the
brain that primarily affects girls. It is characterized by repetitive stereotyped
hand movements such as hand-wringing, typically have no verbal skills,
impaired motor skills, growth problem, and gastrointestinal disorders.
D. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD). It is also known as Heller’s syndrome
named after Theodore Heller or disintegrative psychosis. It is a very rare
condition characterized by developmental delays in language, social function
and motor skills that begins after a 2 to 3 period of normal development.
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