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Describe & evaluate Piaget's theory of cognitive development in children.

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Introduction

Describe & evaluate Piaget's theory of cognitive development in children. Intelligence for Piaget is the means by which human beings adapt to their environment. It is a process, which involves the individual trying to construct an understanding of reality through interacting with it; knowledge does not come 'ready-made' but has to be discovered actively (or even invented), in Piaget's words. Piaget proposed that development should be thought of as a spiral (implying a continuous process) rather than as a step-by-step, discontinuous process (as implied by a stage theory proper). To Piaget children did not simply make errors. Rather it seemed to Piaget that older children seemed to organise their thinking in different ways to give better answers to questions i.e. their minds worked differently to that of adults. Piaget argued strongly that knowledge was discovered and constructed through the child's own activity. Piaget noted that all babies are born with similar biological 'equipment' (Piaget used the term 'structures'). He introduced the term 'schema' to mean a psychological structure that represented everything that the baby or child knew about an object or action. Schemas develop from the child's own interactions with the environment. ...read more.

Middle

Other develop mentalists claim that Piaget's description of sensorimotor intelligence overemphasises the motor aspects of cognitive development to the detriment of the sensory aspects. Piaget believed children showed intellectual development through their actions, but perception researchers believe that infants know more than they can physically demonstrate with limited motor actions. They have found that newborn infants try to look for sounds, grasp objects and respond to human faces, and believe that perceptual learning occurs, particularly aural, before birth. It is now accepted that Piaget may have underestimated early perceptual abilities and cognitive development during the first six months of life (Beger, 1988). It is believed by develop mentalists that the three-mountain task that Piaget asked three-year-old children to solve was too complex to test children's ability to see someone else's perspective. It is now believed that young children can see someone else's point of view in a simple way. Similarly, the conservation tests may also have been too complex, and further research has indicated that if a conservation task was presented in a simplified, fun manner, children were able to understand the concept of it much more easily. Piaget was correct in that, while children are capable for showing some understanding of these concepts, it does take maturity and experience before children can fully master logical structures and apply them to daily life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also Piaget's last stage of formal operations is not an accurate description of cognitive development. Nearly a half of adults do not attain the level of formal operations, and not everyone appears to be capable of abstract reasoning. These people are possibly not cognitively immature, but have different aspects of mature thought not covered by Piaget. Formal logic as defined by Piaget consists of measures such as the pendulum problem and conservation of volume, which indicates that Piaget believes cognition is bound by mathematics and scientific thinking. However, this form of formal logic is not as important in non-scientific fields such as the arts, history, social understanding and personal judgement. It also does not cover other aspects of mature intelligence such as practical problem solving, and acquired wisdom and experience (Paplia, Olds, and Feldman, 1998). Piaget's description of overall cognitive events indicates that once a new stage of cognition has been achieved, individuals will reflect it in all areas of their lives. However, it has been shown that cognitive development may occur in some areas of thinking and not in others. A more accepted view of cognition development is that it is an uneven process, with children arriving at each new stage piece by piece as each new skill and behaviour is acquired (Berger, 1988). Azhar Ali 1 Psychology A2 U6G ...read more.

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