Piaget’s theory of cognitive development explained how a child’s ability to think progresses through a series of distinct stages as they mature. Piaget believed that these stages were maturational. That is, development is genetic and largely unaffected by environmental factors.
Cognitive theory examines internal mental representations such as sensation, reasoning, thinking and memory. Cognition involves how children and adults go about representing, organizing, treating, and transforming information that in turn alters behaviour. Cognitive learning theorists say that the human capacity to use symbols affords us a powerful means for comprehending and dealing with our environment. Symbols allow us to represent events; analyze our conscious experience; communicate with others; plan, create, imagine; and engage in foresightful action.
Piaget believed that children are naturally curious. They constantly want to make sense of their experience and, in the process, construct their understanding of the world. For Piaget, children at all ages are like scientists in that they create theories about how the world works. Of course, children’s theories are often incomplete. Nevertheless, children’s theories are valuable to them because they make the world seem more predictable .
Cognitive learning and information-processing theorists’ findings suggest that mental schemas function as selective mechanisms that influence the information individuals attend to, how they structure information, how important it is to them, and what they do with information.
According to Piaget, children understand the world with schemes, psychological structures that organize experience. Schemes are mental categories related events, objects and knowledge. A scheme is an organized pattern of action or thought. It is a broad concept and can refer to organized patterns of physical action (such as an infant reaching to grasp an object), or mental action (such as high school student thinking about how to solve an algebra problem). While according to (Anon) a schema describes both the mental and physical actions involved in understanding and knowing. Schemas are categories of knowledge that helps us to interpret and understand the world. In Piaget’s view, a schema includes both a category of knowledge and the process of obtaining that knowledge. As experience happen, this new information is used to modify, add to, or change previously existing schemas.
Cook & Cook (2005) state the children interact with the environment, individual schemes become modified, combined and reorganized to form more complex cognitive structures. As children mature, these structures allow more complex and sophisticated ways of thinking. These in turn, allow interacting in qualitatively different ways with their environment.
For example, a little girl develops a scheme for noticing similarities between objects (we’ll call this a “compare: scheme) and a separate one for noticing differences (a contrast scheme). Gradually, she coordinates and combines the two into a single cognitive structure that allows her to compare and contrast objects at the same time. When she encounters a new object, she uses this coordinated cognitive structure to develop a fuller understanding of the object. The first time she encounters an avocado, for example, she can compare and contrast it other foods. This process will help her determine what kind of food it is and will increase her understanding of the overall category (similar in size to orange, similar in colour to a lime, different in texture from an apple). Cognitive structures not only organize existing knowledge but also serve as filters for all new experiences. That is, we interpret new experiences in light of our already existing cognitive structures. Because no two cognitive structures ever are exactly the same, and no two people ever interpret events in exactly the same way. The way you interpret and understand the...
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