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Developmental Psychology

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Jean Piaget (1986-1980) studied the development of children's understanding, through observing, talking and listening to children whilst he carried out exercises that he set. He was particularly interested in how children learn and adapt to the world around them and in order for adjustment or adaptation to work, there must be constant interaction between the child and the outside world. Piaget thought that cognitive development took place through two main processes: Accommodation- The cognitive organisation of the individual is altered by the need to deal with the environment, in other words the individual adjusts to the outside world. Assimilation- The individual deals with the new environmental situation by adjusting the outside world to fit them. This is done by adding information to the schemas which extends the overall picture thus adjusting the interpretation. Another important feature of Piaget's theory was schemas, a mental framework which refers to the organisation of knowledge which then guides and actions for example a baby has a schema for grasping, it wraps its fingers around items placed in its hands. Schemas enable individuals to store, organise and interpret information about their experiences. When a child has assimilated the schemas it is in a state of cognitive balance but as the child continues to explore and comes into contact with new experiences cognitive imbalance is created. This then leads to equilibration; the child then uses the process of assimilation and accommodation to restore a state of equilibrium. Piaget believed that children's cognitive development goes through four stages, these are: Stage one: The sensorimotor stage this stage last from birth to about 2 years, a child learns by moving around his or her environment and learning through their senses- smell, sound, sight, touch and taste. ...read more.


The same idea applies to playgroups and to children playing with toys according to Piaget children will obtain the most benefit from playgroups and from playing with toys when they are in a process of self discovery. Lastly, Piaget's three main ways of how Piagetian theory can be applied to education stems from Piaget's believes that cognitive development is dependent on children learning a range of operations, many 'based on mathematical or logical principles because it is useful for children to study mathematics and logic as well as science subjects' (simply psychology). However the cognitive structures that Piaget emphasises are limited for other types of learning such as learning foreign languages or history. Moreover, his theories have been supported by a lot of research. His ideas may have been taken more rigidly than expected and Piaget was the first person to look at child cognitive development and because of his ideas others have looked into cognitive development. However Piaget's theory has been criticised for various aspects of his methods, one of which was the naturalistic observation. He observed his own children, which could have caused him to be biased in his findings, he also generalised and many of his ideas i.e. the sensorimotor and pre-operational stages are based on these observation. The tests may have been too complicated and artificial due to the fact that things were taken out of context such as pouring liquid from one cup to another. As well as this the tests may have involved demand characteristics- the child trying to guess what is expected of him/her and performing differently in accordance. ...read more.


Others were allowed to work on their own (Piaget's discovery learning). Freud found that that those who had worked with their mothers in the first instance showed greater improvement in their second attempt, done single handed. The conclusion to this study was that guided learning led to a greater understanding. Vygotsky's ideas are present in many settings today. It could be argued that his ideas fit in nicely with the present day role of education because there is a lot more formal teaching, less play and play has been removed from the classroom. Also learning has become much more intense over the years pushing children beyond their 'so called' abilities. The most evident use of Vygotsky's theories is scaffold learning where a more experienced person offers support, encouragement and guidance to a student; this could be when a learner has difficulties with instructions or through general encouragement. - Generally called classroom assistants today. Children also learn from each other through collaborative learning- children of similar levels work together in groups and peer tutoring which involves a MKO child providing guidance to another child. This also encourages children to work and play with different groups of children. Nevertheless, Vygotsky's theories could be criticised for pushing children too hard it may be that some children don't need to be in the zone of proximal development, they may need a break and by being forced into it, it may cause stress, depression, anxiety thus leading to poor mental health from being over stressed. Consequently, it may cause children to drop out of education and become alienated from it. It may also lead to low self esteem if a child always finds themselves in the learner position. ?? ?? ?? ?? Assignment 4- Development Psychology Natalie Dunstan-Bailey ...read more.

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