Development of Children's Reasoning
Reasoning is mental process of looking for beliefs, conclusions, actions or feelings. Humans are able to engage in reasoning using Introspection; involving self-observation and examination of one's own thoughts and feelings. Human reasoning starts in early childhood when a child has to face a problem, he/she has to develop reasoning in order to solve it. This development of reasoning occurs from infancy through adolescence. Once children are able to represent the world, form concepts and categories, then they are well able to reason about and solve problems. The two psychologists, Piaget and Siegler, were interested in identifying and describing the ages of children when the developmental change in reasoning and problem solving occurs. Piaget was particularly interested in how the minds of adults differ from minds of young children. On the other hand, Siegler is information-processing psychologist, interested in how children solve problems (Flavell). Piaget's view towards children's reasoning has greatly marked the development of cognition. He made an assumption that children's reasoning in earlier stages differs qualitatively from their reasoning in later ones; at certain point in development, reasoning is similar to problem solving. So Piaget identified a theory composed by the four major stages which children progress through; these involve: Sensorimotor period of infancy; Preoperational period of early childhood; Concrete-operational period of middle childhood; Formal-operational period of adolescence (Flavell). The sensorimotor period lasts from birth through age two. The newborn infants enter the world processing many reflexes. They suck objects when they are placed in their mouths, close fingers around any object that come into contact. They start to understanding the causal connection between their actions and the effects of their actions. And then they start to use symbols, which a step closer to beginnings of reasoning. The preoperational period lasts from two to six/seven years. Here Piaget showed the earliest sign of internal representations is deferred imitation; the imitation of an activity after hours or days it occurred. To show such delayed imitation, children must have formed endured representations of the original activity. Piaget stated that there are two types of internal representations: symbols and signs. The symbols are intended for one's personal use and signs intended for communication. As children develop they use the symbols less and use the signs more. During this transition, Piaget described children as egocentric as their thinking about external world always in terms of their own perspective. This is reflected in the use of language. The problem is related to the limit of children's thinking as it centers on individual, dramatic features of objects, excluding other less dramatic features. To illustrate this concentration Piaget did a research on children's understanding of the concept of time. He chose two toy trains, running on parallel tracks in the same direction. After the toys stopped moving, he asked which train traveled for longer time(or greater speed or greater distance) Most 4-5 year olds focused on the train's stopping point; they evaluated that the further train traveled longer and made longer distance, ignoring the times when trains started to move, when they stopped and the speed traveled. Children are able to answer correctly just about the age of nine. The conclusions are that children tend to focus on static states rather than conversions. These suggest that young children think about the world too simply and rigidly (Alibali). Siegler's view towards children's reasoning is quite different from Piaget's. Most of his research was based on Piaget's work; selected a set of problems in that domain for children of different ages. So this is different Piaget's Stage Model, where he gave problems to the same...
References: Alibali, M. W., R.S. Siegler Children 's Thinking 4th edition
Blades, H. Cowie, P.K., Smith Understanding Children 's Development 4th edition
Flavell, J.H., P.H. Miller Cognitive Development 4th edition 2002
Mayers, R.E., Thinking, Problem Solving, Cognition 2nd edition
Miller, P.H., Theories of Developmental Psychology 3rd edition 1997
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