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In this assignment the author intends to present and evaluate theories of cognitive development from both Piaget and Vygotsky; the author will then present the studies that support those theories and finally conclude by critically evaluating those studies

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Introduction

Developmental Psychology: Cognitive and Moral Development In this assignment the author intends to present and evaluate theories of cognitive development from both Piaget and Vygotsky; the author will then present the studies that support those theories and finally conclude by critically evaluating those studies. Part 1: Theories of Cognitive Development Definition: Cognitive development is the construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. (Ken R. Wells 2003). 'Cognitive development refers to how a person perceives, thinks, and gains understanding of his or her world through the interaction of genetic and learned factors. Among the areas of cognitive development are information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development and memory.' (Ken R. Wells, 2003). Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development The most well known and influential theory of cognitive development is that of French psychologist Jean Piaget, Piaget's theory was established from decades of extensive observation of children, including his own. (Ken R. Wells, 2003). 'Piaget believed that what distinguishes human beings from other animals is our ability to do abstract symbolic reasoning.' (W. Huitt, 1999). Piaget envisioned that a child's knowledge and behaviour is controlled through mental organisations called schemas, such units of knowledge are utilised to represent and organise past experiences thus serving as a basis for knew ones. (Ken R. Wells, 2003; W. Huitt, 1999). Piaget theorised that schemas are continually modified by complementary processes he termed assimilation and accommodation, assimilation refers to incorporating new information into existing schemas or past experiences thus serving as a basis for understanding new ones, accommodation refers to the existing schemas changing to accommodate new knowledge. ...read more.

Middle

accounted for both biological and environmental factors in the development of cognitive intelligence; these factors were, maturation of the brain and interaction with the environment. (Keiron Walsh, 2008). While Piaget's theory provides psychologists and teachers with a detailed description of development stages some argue that it does not provide sufficient explanation and that concepts are vague, research has demonstrated that children possess many of the cognitive abilities mentioned at much earlier ages than Piaget portrayed. Researchers have discovered that Vygotsky's methodology of social engagement/interaction and the continual assessment of different styles of teaching were far more likely to yield positive results. (Grahame Hill, 2001). Furthermore Piaget seemed to over estimate an individuals supposed formal operational ability as research has suggested that merely one third of the population within western society reach this stage, in many ways civilisation and humanity has progressed in some ways and regressed in others with such speed in recent years that such cognitive developmental ideals are in many ideologies difficult to incorporate. (Grahame Hill, 2001; Ken R. Wells, 2003). Part 3: Studies that Support Theories of Cognitive Development Gibson & Walk 1960 One of the most relevant studies of infant perception was conducted by Gibson and Walk in 1960, Gibson and Walk developed a piece of apparatus known as the visual cliff which was essentially a platform on which babies were placed, the whole platform was covered with a sheet of thick glass though one side was very much lower than the other. ...read more.

Conclusion

(The Development of Thinking, 2001). Piaget did adapt his early theories to take account of early criticism; he believed and hoped that his work would one day be integrated with other theories in order to produce a rounded view of child development. (The Development of Thinking, 2001). Piaget provoked considerable follow up research, over the years this has added significantly to our understanding of child development, Piaget's work has influenced educational policies and stimulated additional research into child development. 'Each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could have discovered for himself, that child is kept from inventing it and consequently from understanding it completely.' (Piaget 1960; The development of Thinking, 2001). Vygotsky's greatest contribution was in recognising the importance of social interaction in the cognitive development of children, whereas Piaget interpreted through various studies that children regardless of culture should make the same level of progression through his developmental stages; Vygotsky believed there would be significant cultural differences and established a more sociological approach, however both psychological theorists gained support in latter research and educational directives. (The Development of Thinking, 2001). 'Vygotsky emphasises the role of social interaction in teaching and this is where his greatest contribution has been. Effective teachers are those with more knowledge than the child and can include peers. Teachers need to provide scaffolding and be able to adjust the level of assistance they provide depending upon the progress of the child.' (The Development of Thinking, 2001). ...read more.

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