Piaget's Cognitive Theory

1077 Words5 Pages
Psychology

Piaget's Cognitive Theory

Cognitive development is the development of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. Historically, the cognitive development of children has been studied in a variety of ways. The oldest is through intelligence tests. An example of this is the Stanford Binet Intelligence Quotient test. IQ scoring is based on the concept of mental age, according to which the scores of a child of average intelligence match his or her age. IQ tests are widely used in the United States, but they have been criticized for defining intelligence too narrowly. In contrast to the emphasis placed on a child¡¦s natural abilities by intelligence testing, learning theory grew out of work by behaviorist researchers such as John Broadus Watson and B.F. Skinner, who argued that children are completely malleable. Learning theory focuses on the role of environmental factors in shaping the intelligence of children, especially on a child¡¦s ability to learn by having certain behaviors rewarded and others discouraged. During the 1920s, a biologist named Jean Piaget proposed a theory of cognitive development of children. He caused a new revolution in thinking about how thinking develops. In 1984, Piaget observed that children understand concepts and reason differently at different stages. Piaget stated children's cognitive strategies, which are used to solve problems, reflect an interaction between the child¡¦s current developmental stage and experience in the world.

Piaget was originally trained in areas of biology and philosophy and considered himself a kinetic epistemologist. He was mainly interested in the biological influences on how we come to know. He believed that what distinguishes human beings from other animals is our ability to do abstract symbolic reasoning. Piaget¡¦s theory, first published in 1952, grew out of decades of extensive observation of children, including his own, in their natural environments as opposed to the laboratory experiments of the behaviorists. Although Piaget was interested in how children reacted to their environment, he proposed knowledge as composed of schemas, basic units of knowledge used to organize past experiences and serve as a basis for understanding new ones. Schemas are continually being modified by two complementar...

... middle of paper ...

...ings different from theirs. Furthermore, they can understand situations from the viewpoints of others. Intelligence is characterized by number, length, liquid, mass, weight, area, and volume. They can perform logical operations in relation to concrete external objects. They can now decipher their thinking, or focus on more than one dimension of a stimulus at a single time. They cannot solve abstract or hypothetical problems, however.

Piaget¡¦s fourth and final stage, the formal operations stage, takes place from 11 or 12 to 18 and beyond. In early adolescent years, the development of the ability to reversibility and conservation to abstract, verbal, and hypothetical situations takes place. They also begin to make speculations about what might happen in the future. Adolescents are also capable of formulating and testing hypotheses, and dealing with abstract concepts like probability, ratio, and proportion. In this stage start the perception of analogies and the use of complex language forms such as metaphors and sarcasm. Teenagers can comprehend philosophy and politics and formulate theories of their own. Abstract concepts and moral values become as important as concrete objects.
Open Document