Jean Piaget: Major Contributions to Child Development

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Jean Piaget: Major Contributions to Child Development

The Four Stages of Cognitive Development

Piaget's Effect on CurrentTeaching Methods Jean Piaget has inspired educators to alter their teaching methods. Piaget discovered that lectures and demonstrations are not always the methods that are most beneficial to students. In his studies, he discovered that children are less skeptical of new information if they are able to test it themselves. This has led to more active discovery learning for students (Atherton, 2013). To create the equilibrium necessary between assimilation and accommodation for students, they need to be more active in their learning. Students need to be able to debate the information and look at all sides. Each child moves thorugh the four stages of cognitive development at different rates, therefore the more individualized the learning is for each student, the more successful they will be. The incorporation of technology is a major factor in Piagetia theory. Virtual reality can make usually impossible situtations more realistics, which is often more exciting to children. Through technology, students can be more creative, and discover new information for themselves as opposed to being passive learners (Ginn).

Piaget's Early Life ' What Led to His TheoryJean Piaget was born in Neuchatel Switzerland in 1896. Piaget was interested in biology starting at a young age and he wrote many papers on the subject. This led to Piaget to receive his Ph. D. in natural science when he was twenty-two from the University of Neuchatel. His interest in the natural sciences led him to further his education and learn about pathological psychology, where he also learned how to interview mental patients. Soon after, he began working at a boys institution created by Alfred Binet, who was using a test he designed to measure levels of intelligence. This experience along with his educational background began Piaget's interest in the developmental patterns of children's intelligence. In 1923, Paiget's married Valentine Chatenay, and they had three children together. Piaget began the most important of his studies at this point, using his own children as well as others to study the intellectial development of children from birth to pre-adolescence (Presnell, 1999).

Jean Piaget

Piaget's Theory ofCognitive Development Jean Piaget created extensive studies ofthe intellectual development of children. He believed this to be important because he thought that intellectual development in a child's life. Some of his studies were performed on his own children, this allowed him to witness cognitive development starting at birth. Paiget designed sets of questions that he would ask the children at different stages in their life. Although he was not interested in the correct answers, he was interested in the way they processed the information and the reasoning behind it (Emerick ' Hartzler-Miller, 2006). Piaget discovered that the logic of a child is completely different from that of an adult. Meaning that knowledge continuously changes throughout life, with the introduction of new experiences and events. He discovered that children learn best form active learning and personal experiences. If they are are taught new facts, that do not conincide with previous knowledge, they many not believe them because they are simply told to. Children have to experience new things for themselves to understand new concepts (Emerick ' Hartzler-Miller, 2006). Another important result of Piaget's studies was his development fo the four stages of cognitive development. All children pass through four stages in order, but the ages at which they transition can vary. Paiget discovered that a child could not learn a new concept that was in a higher stage, until they transitioned into that stage. The rate at which a child changes stages depends on the child's ability to assimiate new concepts with previous knowledge and then change to accommodate the new information. When this occurs, there will be an equilibration, meaning the child has created a balance between assimilation and accommation (Culatta, 2012).

Piaget's Developmental Theory: An Overview

The following video was created by David Elkind who worked with Jean Piaget. The brief video shows examples of some quesions that Piaget asked children in his study of intellectual development. The answers to the questions given by the children show how Piaget identified the 4 stages of cognitive development.

Resources:Atherton, J.S. (2011). Learning and Teaching: Piaget's Developmental Theory. Emerick, L., and Hartzler-Miller, C. (2006). How Do People Learn? Towson University. Ginn, W. Jean Piaget - Intellectial Development. Presnell, F. (1999). Jean Piaget. Musckingum College. Video:Elkind, D. (2009). Piaget's Developmental Theory: An Overview (Davidson Films). You Tube. Photo of Piaget:Krishnamachari, B. (2010). An Academic's Freedom: Piaget on Child-Centered Education.


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