Developmental Psychology

Topics: Jean Piaget, Theory of cognitive development, Developmental psychology Pages: 5 (1780 words) Published: February 6, 2014
Within this essay, the author will explore and evaluate two theories of child/cognitive development. One method is known as Piaget’s theory of cognitive development which consists of schemas: assimilation, accommodation and adaption, Piaget’s stages of intellectual development. Characteristics of these stages, including object permanence, conservation, egocentrism and class inclusion. Piaget’ research, including the three mountains experiment and conservation experiments will also be included. Alternative approaches to children’s cognition comprise of Vygotsky and cognitive development within a social and cultural context, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and Scaffolding, a guided participation in sociocultural activities. Piaget described children as ‘mini-scientists’ who learn from their environment. He thought that children should be given the materials and environment to explore for themselves. He called this ‘discovery learning’ and said this was the best way for children to learn. Using the term schemas to describe the mental structures we have. He claimed these schemas hold the knowledge we have about objects, events and ways of doing things. Schemas are therefore pockets of knowledge and simply, are ways of thinking about the world. Previously stated, Piaget believed that children learn best by discovering things for themselves. They do this through the process of assimilation and accommodation, involving disequilibrium and equilibrium. Assimilation is the process used when the child is able to use existing schemas to understand new information. Accommodation is the process necessary when existing schemas have to be modified or new schemas created in order to understand new information. Equilibrium is the feeling of mental balance because the world is as you expected and you can use the schema you already have to understand new information – assimilation. Disequilibrium is feeling confused because new information does not fit with your way of thinking, driving you to change your schema or create a new one – accommodation. As a result of continually modifying schemas, children are able to cope with their environment, this is called adaption. A general limitation to the cognitive approach and Piaget’s schema theory is that it happens in the mind and therefore can be neither proven, nor disproven. Discovery learning can also be criticised as it underestimates the role of adults helping a child to learn new skills. However discovery learning has had an enormous influence on primary education and allows a child to become self-sufficient. Piaget believed that development takes place when the child is cognitively ready known as the ‘readiness approach’. He also believed that cognitive development takes place in four stages. Stage one is known as the sensori-motor stage which occurs between the ages of zero to two years. The main characteristic of the sensori-motor stage is object permanence. This is the ability to realise that something still exsists even when it can no longer be seen. Before the child develops this skill it is a case of out of sight, out of mind. Stage two of a child’s cognitive development was named the Pre-Operational Stage and occurs between the ages of two to seven years. Characteristics of this stage include; Ego-centrism, not being able to do conservation or class inclusion tasks. Ego-centrism is where one is not able to see things from another person’s perspective and realise that they have different thoughts and feelings from you. This is because the child believes that everybody sees the world the same way that they do. Conducting an experiment to investigate the age at which children are no longer ego-centric. Children aged between four and seven were shown a model of three mountains. A doll was placed at a different view point and the child was asked to look at ten photographs and choose the correct image showing what the doll could see. He concluded that children under the age of...
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