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Describe and evaluate Piagets theory of cognitive development

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Describe and evaluate Piaget?s theory of cognitive development Piaget studied a vast number of children and developed a theory to describe the way in which children?s thinking changes as they grow older. Piaget believed that as children get older they automatically go through several stages of thinking. It is believed that our cognitive development is invariant, meaning that the stages are always in the same order, and universal, meaning that they apply to all children regardless of culture. His theory consisted of 4 main stages. The first stage is the sensorimotor stage, which involves children from birth to 2 years old. ...read more.


Children of this stage undergo symbolic thought and play, which is the ability to use one concept to represent another. The third stage is the concrete operational stage, for 7 to 11 year olds. Children in this stage begin to perform logical operations, for example, they are able to conserve and have decentred. This means that they are no longer egocentric and can understand things from a variety of viewpoints. Finally there is the formal operational stage of development, for 11+. In this stage they are able to solve problems in a logical manner and can deal with hypothetical reasoning, so no longer need concrete objects to learn from. ...read more.


They were asked again and children of the pre-operational stage said that one row had more, because it was longer. These children couldn?t conserve, whereas the concrete operational children recognised that they had the same amount in them. Several studies, such as the ones carried out by Hughes and McGarrigle and Donaldson, question the findings of Piaget?s studies. They suggest that it is possible that he underestimated the ability of young children, in relation to egocentrism and conservation of number. Also, some research suggests that many adults never reach the formal operational stage, so these stages cannot be invariant. Instead, an alternative theory was devised by Vygotsky, which showed the importance of culture and the role of others in our cognitive development (through the zone of proximal development). ...read more.

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