The purpose of this report is to examine the cognitive processes of two participants while carrying out a sorting task, then link these observations to Piaget's stages of cognitive development. Cognitive development as defined by Gale Cengage (2005) is “The construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood”. Jean Piaget, French biologist and psychologist (1896-1980), developed a theory of development based on observations of children. Piaget's theory is made up of four stages of development of how the mind processes new information that is encountered: Sensorimotor (birth to 2 years), Preoperational (appears at around 2), Concrete Operations (appears around 6 or 7) and Formal operations (appears around 11 or 12) (Learning Theories Knowledge base. 2012, April)(See Appendix B). Piaget suggests that children organise their knowledge in schemes- an organised group of similar actions or thoughts, used repeatedly in response to their environment (Mcdevitt and Ormrod, 2010. p195) and that there are many processes that enable the transition from one stage to another. The process operations consists of three processes called assimilation, accommodation and equilibrium. These process operations involve using information from previous schemes or experiences and using them to respond to an event (assimilation), responding to a new event by adapting or modifying an existing scheme (accommodation) and being able to address new events by using existing schemes, balancing both assimilation and accommodation (equilibrium) (Mcdevitt and Ormrod, 2010). Piaget maintains that socially people learn from other human beings and children's cognitive development is aided by communication from peers rather than adults. In social relationships equity allows for real opinions and debates to arise and therefore contributes to cognitive development (S. Beltman, 2008). All of these concept will be addressed in detail in the discussion in relation to the observation research. This report depicts an explanation of the method used to conduct the research , a table outlining the observations, and the interpretations of the research and limitations in relation to Piaget's theory.
The research consisted of performing a study with two participants, female child aged 7 and a male adult aged 28. For the purpose of this report they will be called Child and Adult. Each participant was isolated to a room free of distractions and asked to sign a Consent Form (See appendix A) showing their understanding on the purpose of the interview and that they would be kept anonymous (for Child this also meant parent/guardian). Each participant was produced with 20 pictures consisting of a combination of household objects, food, clothing, appliances, and garden accessories taken from a local supermarket catalogue. The pictures were all roughly the same in size and contained the name of the item, a brief description regarding purpose/ materials and the item price. Each participant was instructed to sort the objects into groups that are alike. They could create as many or as little groups as they wanted. Once the participant had finished they were asked to explain how they grouped the objects. The objects were then pushed back together and the participant was asked to complete the task again, grouping the pictures in a different way. This task was performed continuously until the participant could not create any more groups. No suggestions were made throughout the entire task.
During the study observations were made in regards to how the participant reacted, what they said, and what characteristics they based their groupings on. Open questions were asked at the end of each grouping, for example: Why did you group these like this? How are all the things you have put here the same? These questions required the explanations...