Child Psychology

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Chapter 8: Cognitive Development: Piaget and Vygotsky

Cognition is the term used to describe the mental activity through which human beings acquire, remember, and learn to use knowledge. Cognition includes many mental processes, such as perception, attention, learning, memory, and reasoning.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
• Piaget made two important observations:
o He noticed that children of the same ages tended to get the same answers wrong o He noticed that the errors of children of a particular age differed in systematic ways from those of older or younger children • To study children’s behavior, Piaget relied on observation and interviews o He would give the children a problem and ask them to interpret how they plan to solve the problem • Piaget’s theory proposed that over development, the child acquires new ways of thinking and understanding the world

Piaget’s Main Tenet: The Child Actively Seeks Knowledge
• Constructivist View
o Children play an active role in acquiring knowledge. Unlike behaviorism, in which the child passively waits for info (or stimuli) from their environments, Piaget argues that children actively seek our info o In addition, child encounter new info, they actively try to fit it in with the knowledge, they already possess. In other words, children construct their own understanding o The goal of this view is to discover how children at different points of their development think about how objects work and are related to one another • Cognitive Organization

o Piaget believed that during development, a child’s knowledge of the world gets organized into more complex cognitive structures ▪ Cognitive structure- not a phys entity in the brain, but an organized group of interrelated memories, ideas, and strategies that the child uses in trying to understand a situation ▪ Schemas- a concept; an organized unit of knowledge that form the knowledge base that a person uses to understand and interact with the environment o Key feature of child development

▪ It is organized:
• Entails the combo of simple mental structures into more complex system • Organization of knowledge in a child help enables the child to act on and interpret the world in a particular way o As children grow older and gain experience, they shift gradually from using schemas based on overt (physical) activities to those based on internal (mental) activities—operations; large scale organizational changes are stages and there are four • Cognitive Adaptation

o Adaptation- adjusting one’s thinking to fir with environmental demands; children modify their schemas in relation to their own experiences ▪ Adaptation always involves determining how new info fits with existing knowledge as well as how existing knowledge may need to change to incorporate new info ▪ To understand a new experience, children assimilate—they apply what they already know (their existing schemas) to the new experience ▪ Accommodation—modifying your strategy and adopting a new approach; modifying an existing schema to fit the characteristics of the new situation ▪ Assimilation and accommodation work together to organize children’s knowledge and behavior into increasingly complex structures

The Stages of Cognitive Development
• Stages of development—comprehensive, qualitative changes over time in the way a child thinks • Piaget believed that intellectual development occurred in 4 stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations o Sensorimotor- first 2 yrs of life

▪ Children begin to form mental representations of objects and events and to use this info in developing new behaviors and solving problems ▪ Child’s...
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