Piaget's Learning Theory in Elementary Education

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Piaget’s Learning Theory in Elementary Education

In order to support children’s growth educators try to provide a stimulating classroom environment. They implement different strategies, tools and practices to help achieve this goal. Since educators play an important role in children’s development they should be familiar with developmental psychology and know of its educational implications in the classroom. There are two major approaches of developmental psychology: (1) Cognitive development as it relates to Piaget and (2) social development as it relates to Vygotsky. An educator may find it useful to study Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to help children build on their own knowledge.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss psychologist who is known for his studies of intellectual development in children (Strickland, 2001). His theory of cognitive development views children as “little scientists who learn vicariously as individuals” in their environment (Powell & Kalina, 2009, p. 241). In cognitive development, the individual constructs ideas through a personal process, as opposed to social development where ideas are constructed through interactions with the teacher and other students (Powell & Kalina, 2009). Thus, children commit information to memory when they have learned it is applicable to their real lives. Piaget believed that each individual "is the product of interaction between heredity and environment” (Krapp, 2012, pp. 345-372). The two cannot be separated and influence the individual’s learning.

Stages and Concepts of Cognitive Development. Cognitive development is a continuous, but gradual sequence throughout life. Piaget divided cognitive development into four stage...

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... Developing tools that secure inquiry and social interaction in the classroom, along with individual discovery learning, helps teachers create effective learning environments. Students involved in an interactive and facilitating environment can greatly improve their cognitive capabilities.

Works Cited

Bergen, D. (1988). Play, technology and the authentic self. Play As a Medium for Learning and Development, 299-301. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Powell, K. C., & Kalina, C. J. (2009). Cognitive and social constructivism: developing tools for an effective classroom. Education, 130(2), 241.

Krapp, E. K. (2005). Piaget, Jean. Psychologists and Their Theories for Students, 4, 345-372. Retrieved from the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Nevid, J. S. (2011). Piaget’s shadow: evaluating his legacy. Essentials of Psychology: Concepts and Applications (3rd Ed.), 323.
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