• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    What have been the major challenges to Piaget's theory of cognitive development? What aspects ...

    4 star(s)

    However, simply to focus on age limits is to miss the central point of Piaget's theory that universal, qualitative, biologically regulated cognitive changes occur during development. This is supported by cross-cultural research that has replicated Piaget's findings (Smith et al, 1998).

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Behaviourist Perspective

    3 star(s)

    This applies to the animals that Skinner did the experiments, but we can also recognise the importance of human behaviour from operant conditioning. This is where Skinner based on reinforcing particular behaviours. The behaviours how we follow from E.G., reward, which associates behaviour with the 'reward', learn to repeat.

  1. counselling stages of attachement

    The child seeks an attachment with the caregiver because it provides food and attention as reinforcement. The caregiver also seeks an attachment with the child as it acts as a reinforcer - e.g. the child smiles, the caregiver feels valued.

  2. Describe and evaluate Piaget's theory of cognitive development

    apparatus, and the child was asked whether the policeman doll could see the boy doll. After that, the child was told to hide the boy doll where neither the policeman could see him.

  1. Physical, Social and Emotional Development of Children.

    may change our attitude towards someone who belongs to a certain stereotyped group. Once we meet people from these groups, we often realise that out thoughts about them were not accurate. This is why it is important for early years practitioners to introduce activities and visits from many different people to show children the falsehood of stereotypes.

  2. Levels Of Processing

    compared to the visual condition (2.6). This suggests that the semantic condition led to the deepest level of processing and therefore increased people's recall. Inferential Statistics The research method was independent groups and the data (words recalled) was interval but was turned into ordinal data for the purpose of statistical testing.


    A short question/answer session followed covering any aspects Rachel was unsure of. In demonstrating the skill, I carried it out slowly with Rachel asking questions, as she felt necessary. During the short car journey to the second patient, I encouraged Rachel to reflect on her observations.

  2. Is Homework Beneficial to Children in Any way?

    Unfortunately a piece of homework cannot be set in accordance to what resources or lack of resources every child in the class has, but is it fair that that the 'rich' children have clear advantages whist the 'poorer' students are effectively being punished for being 'poor' and going without?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work