Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

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Social Studies

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Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

Prior to Jean Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development, behaviorism was the dominant lens through which educators viewed student learning. Behaviorists see learning through a more teacher-centered instructional framework, with the child as a more passive responder to his or her environment, while cognitivists see learning as more child-centered, embracing the idea that children grow intellectually by developing and adapting schemas (defined by Piaget as: "a cohesive, repeatable action sequence possessing component actions that are tightly interconnected and governed by a core meaning") as they interact with the world around them within their natural developmental stage. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development is based on the idea that a child's learning and understanding of the world around him or her results through interactions with his or her environment through a course of four developmental stages: sensorimotor (in infancy), preoperational (the preschool child), concrete operational (the school-age child), and formal operational (adolescence and adulthood). These natural stages cannot be rushed or skipped. In Piaget's theory, the child is always treated as an active player in his or her own development.

Sample Research Questions1. How does cognitive development stage (preoperational vs. concrete operational) affect children's response to changing teachers.2. Do home-schooling students progress from the concrete operational stage to the formal operational stage at the same rate as their public and private school peers?3. Does participation in social media affect adolescent cognitive development?

Jean Piaget(1896-1980)Biography and Theory Overview

Piaget's Cognitive Development Theory

Sample article using Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development as an underpinning:Johnson, T. M., & Alfke, D. (1976). An Experimental Study of the Placement of Classification Skills in the Science-A Process Approach Curriculum Employing Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED127162).

Based on his theory, Piaget would disapprove of standardized testing prescribed across the board at specific ages. Piaget would instead suggest that schools empower teachers to adjust their teaching and assessments to the specific developmental stages and needs of their students, honoring each child's natural intellectual developmental pace.

ReferencesBrainerd, C. (1996). PIAGET: A centennial celebration. Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell), 7(4), 191-195.DeWolfe, T. E. (2015). Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Salem Press Encyclopedia Of Health,Kessen, W. (1996). AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGY JUST BEFORE PIAGET. Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell), 7(4), 196-199.McLeod, S. (2009) Jean Piaget. Retrieved from January 18, 2016.Yilmaz, K. (2011). The Cognitive Perspective on Learning: Its Theoretical Underpinnings and Implications for Classroom Practices. Clearing House, 84(5), 204-212.


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