Perspective Theories in Cognitive Development
Cognitive function deals with the processes of the mind to know, to think, to learn and to judge. Its development is generally based on a variety of interweaving factors like genetics and learning through experience. Cognitive psychology has been an area of great interest over the centuries since understanding the cognitive process has been able to raise the standards of human interaction. There were a number of breakthrough studies that have been conceived over the years, particularly by Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. These studies have made important contributions not only in the area of development psychology but its vital application on educational psychology as well.
Jean Piaget, renowned Swiss psychologist, noted that the developmental process consisted of a cycle. The child’s intellectual organization and insight will mature in to several stages of cognitive development: The first stage of Piaget’s cognitive developmental stages is the sensorimotor stage. This is usually experienced at birth to two years old. The memory is confined to immediate experiences, and it is at this period where the child builds his or her first cognitive framework (Queen, 2002). The second stage Piaget’s work is the preoperational stage and usually occurs between the ages 2 to 7 years old. There is greater use and assimilation of mental images. The images are not well organized. The child begins to understand and apply greater vocabulary and simple syntax. One of the important learning events at this stage is “object permanence” and symbolic representation. Also, the infant begins to develop an intuitive way of thinking – which is defined as the preoperational thought (Queen, 2002). The third stage defined by Piaget is the concrete operational period. This is usually manifested at around the ages of 7-11 years old. The child begins to develop a more logical way of thinking. The child can observe relationships or associations and can classify people, objects and events. This allows the child to solve problems more effectively, and is able to appreciate reversibility. However, the child could only solve problems that are observable and real. Their language at this time is purposeful and efficient (Queen, 2002). The fourth and final stage in Piaget’s cognitive development is called the formal operations period which is experienced around the ages of 11 years to adulthood. It is at this stage where the child develops an abstract and deductive reasoning process. A child could create a hypothesis and methodically use different strategies to find the cause of the problem, evaluate, re-evaluate, and even refine solutions to the problem. At this point, intelligence coincides with adult human levels. Although there would be no more new cognitive framework developing after this stage, however, the ability of the mental process and deductive reasoning may still advance as the person matures. Piaget also noted that the exact age of onset of each of the stages are different for each person, but the order of sequence of the stages do not changed. It is also possible for the child to mix the characteristics of the four stages (Queen, 2002).
Another important theory that has contributed in cognitive development was by Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist whose work is partly influenced by Piaget. Vygotsky (1978) discussed the use of signs to introduce a link between a stimuli and a response. For instance, tying a knot on a string would serve as a reminder for something. By this, Vygotsky was able to restructure the thought and behavior process where cognitive development was formed by a “culturally-based process” (Vygoysky, 1978; Geekie and Raban, 1994). Vygotsky implies that socialization is essential in influencing a child’s cognitive growth. The social framework involves the interpersonal relationship between the child and the child’s family and culture: The maturation of the child’s language...
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