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Theory of Cognitive Development

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Essay title: Theory of Cognitive Development

Theory of Cognitive Development

BY Jean Piaget

No theory of cognitive development has had more impact than that of Jean Piaget's stages of cognitive thinking. Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologists identified four stages in which children develop cognitively. How we as human beings develop cognitively has been thoroughly researched. Theorists have suggested that children are incapable of understanding the world until they reach a particular stage of cognitive development. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development is the process whereby a child’s understanding of the world changes as a function of age and experience. Theories of cognitive development seek to explain the quantitative and qualitative intellectual abilities that occur during development.

Stages of Cognitive Development during Childhood

Sensorimotor Stage (years 0 – 2)

This stage occurs between the ages of birth and two years of age, as infants begin to understand the information entering their sense and their ability to interact with the world. During this stage, the child learns to manipulate objects although they fail to understand the permanency of these objects if they are not within their current sensory perception. In other words, once an object is removed from the child’s view, he or she is unable to understand that the object still exists.

The major achievement during this stage is that of Object Permanency, or the ability to understand that these objects do in fact continue to exist. This includes his ability to understand that when mom leaves the room, she will eventually return, resulting in an increased sense of safety and security. Object Permanency occurs during the end of this stage and represents the child’s ability to maintain a mental image of the object (or person) without the actual perception.

Preoperational Stage (years 2 – 7)

The second stage begins after Object Permanency is achieved and occurs between the ages of two to seven years of age. During this stage, the development of language occurs at a rapid pace. Children learn how to interact with their environment in a more complex manner through the use of words and images. Although the thinking of the child is more advanced than when it was in the sensorimotor stage, it is still qualitatively inferior to that of an adult. Children in the preoperational stage are characterized by what Piaget called egocentric thoughts. The world at this stage is viewed entirely from the child’s own perspective. Thus a child’s explanation to an adult can be uninformative.

A child in this stage also lacks the principle of conservation. This is the knowledge that quantity is unrelated to the arrangement and physical appearance of objects. Children who have not passed this stage do not know that the amount, volume or length of an object does not change length when the shape of the configuration is changed. If we put two identical pieces of clay in front of a child, one rolled up in the shape of a ball, the other rolled into a snake, a child at this stage may say the snake piece is bigger because it is rolled out. This is due to the child’s inability to look at all aspects rather than concentrating on only one aspect, which in this case is the length Piaget declared that this is not mastered until the next stage of development.

Concrete Operations Stage (years 7 – 11)

The third stage of cognitive development is marked by a gradual decrease in centristic thought and the increased ability to focus on more than one aspect of a stimulus. They can understand the concept of grouping, knowing that a small dog and a large dog are still both dogs, or that pennies, quarters, and dollar bills are part of the bigger concept of money.

They can only apply this

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