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Critically consider practical applications of two theories of cognitive development.

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Critically consider practical applications of two theories of cognitive development (24 marks) Due to the nature of his theory, applying Piaget's theory to education is based around the teacher recognizing the child's current stage of cognitive development. An example of this method is, whilst a child is in the sensorimotor stage, the teachers should provide children with a rich and stimulating environment and toys the child can play with. When the child reaches the concrete operational stage, however, learning activities should involve problems of classification, ordering, location, and conservation using concrete objects. The main principles when applying Piaget's theory to education are as follows: * Children will provide different explanations of reality at different stages of cognitive development (this encompasses the effect of egocentrism) * Cognitive development is facilitated by providing activities which interest the learner and require adaptation * Activities and materials used to help children learn must be at the correct level of mental and physical operation for the child's age. ...read more.


This example falls in line with Ginsberg's beliefs, but it is not used as a basis of teaching by many schools. The Piagetian perspective places great emphasis on the role of the teacher on the child's learning, the teacher must take into account that children learn from active self-discovery rather than from passive observation. Teachers must also mould their teaching around concepts such as disequilibrium and egocentrism. Disequilibrium is needed for the child to advance to the next stage of cognitive development. For this state to appear in students teachers must provide a balance between actively guiding and directing children's thinking and providing opportunities that allow them to explore themselves, although the common notion is providing children with the materials and letting them 'get on with it'. Teachers should encourage children to learn from their peers as listening to the views of others helps break down egocentrism. ...read more.


He believed that teachers control over their student's activities is what counts. According to Tharp and Gallimore (1988), that is how a teacher helps a child move through the ZPD. They believed that teaching only occurs when assistance is offered at points in the ZPD where performance requires assistance. Teachers can assist the child's performance by working sensitively and contingently within the ZPD. Contingency is an idea developed by Bruner. Wood and Middleton (1975) investigated contingency by watching mothers help their children build a puzzle. The mothers showed contingency by giving child the help that was proportionate to the level of difficulty the child was in. As stated earlier, Vygotsky shared Piaget's view on the importance of group learning (collaborative learning). Educators in present time have realised that group learning can offer effective means of reaching for guiding children through their ZPD. This may be due to the nature of group work: it allows children to use language, provide explanations, and work co-operatively or competitively, therefore producing cognitive change. ...read more.

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