Discuss the concept of ‘constructivism’ (from Piaget’s theory of cognitive development). Use a mix of theory and research to back up your ideas about whether or not the child constructs his/her own development.
The understanding of how children comprehend the world around them has been a highly researched part of cognitive development in Psychology. Jean Piaget was one of the first researchers to develop a theory suggesting that children understand the world around them by actively seeking information from their environment, and continuously expanding their knowledge by organizing, adapting and assimilating this information Berlin, (1992). Piaget’s theory known as constructivism theory, has undergone a high level of scrutiny, centring on the understanding of children’s cognitive abilities, and neglecting the intelligence of assistance. Through analysing current research this paper aims to explore Piaget’s constructivism theory. Children’s development has been a topic of interest since the 1920’s, following the creation of an intelligence test developed by Piaget and his colleagues where Piaget discovered that younger children made systematic mistakes from those of older age, consequently proposing that children change qualitatively with age, Bremner et al., (2012). Studying his own children Piaget formed the constructivism theory arguing that children built their knowledge through organization (children organize their information in schemas, assimilation (using pre-existing information) and adaptation and accommodation (adapting to the condition of the environment), by searching for information from their environment to expand their understanding of the world, Beilin, H. (1992). Piaget proposed children take an active role in their cognitive development, and independently construct the world around them. He proposed that children face different problems as they move through the stages, and it is the solving of these problems that teach them and assist them in learning and developing their thinking. The knowledge they receive from solving these actions are not imitated or innate, instead are ‘actively constructed’ by the child. In this sense, Piaget suggests that thought is obtained from action, when actions are internalised, ones thinking increases. The child is influenced by their previous ideas and new experiences, and based on this they construct new ideas. Piaget suggested that cognitive structuring, actions representing specific ‘acts’ of intelligence, is developed and linked to stages of child development. Piaget proposed children undergo four developmental stages where cognitive structuring occurs. These stages are sensorimotor stage (from birth to two years of age), preoperational stage (from three to seven years of age), concrete operations stage (from eight to eleven years of age), and formal operational stage (from twelve years of age until adulthood) Piaget, J. & Inhelder, B. (1969). In the first stage, sensorimotor which Piaget divided into six sub-stages, intelligence is demonstrated through basic motor skills such as sucking to experimenting with external objects by using schemas in order to reach their goal. ). Piaget suggested that until the age of seven months (during their third sub-stage of sensory motor stage), infants do not understand that the world consists of permanent objects. He argues that if at this stage you hide an object in front of the infant they show disappointment or simply stop looking for the object as if the object disappeared. Not until infant reaches eight months (the fourth sub-stage of sensory motor stage), does the child start to look for hidden objects, which shows that at this stage infants start to understand object permanence, Piaget, J. & Inhelder, B. (1969). One of Piaget’s studies that received a great deal of attention is the A-not-B error study, which he explains that if an object is hidden in front of an infant (location A); at around eight months of age...
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