Essay on Piaget 's Theory Of Cognitive Development

Essay on Piaget 's Theory Of Cognitive Development

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A central theory of cognitive development was proposed by a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget who lived from 1896 – 1980. Piaget was a biologist, philosopher, logician and sociologist, who advanced the knowledge of human beings in their relations to the material and social world (Gainotti, 1997). Piaget’s theories have reoriented current conceptions of the child’s development. Siegler & Ellis (1996) point out that is impossible to understand the field of developmental psychology without understanding Piaget’s ideas and findings. Before Piaget’s work, the common assumption in psychology was that children are merely less competent thinkers than adults (Siegler & Ellis, 1996). Piaget showed that young children think in different ways compared to adults. This paper provides a critical review of Jean Piaget’s core ideas and his theory of cognitive development, which states that children actively construct their understanding of the world and go through four universal stages of cognitive development (Santrock, Mackenzie-Rivers, Leung, & Malcomson, 2008).
According to Siegler and Ellis (1996) “the core theoretical assumption of Piaget’s theory is that children are active thinkers, constantly trying to construct more advanced understandings of the world” (p. 211). Piaget stressed the fundamental role of personal experiences and activity in relation to surrounding reality. By studying children in their mental development, he attempted to answer more general epistemological questions concerning the acquisition and expansion of knowledge (Gainotti, 1997). The main question he was trying to answer was ‘how does knowledge grow’. (Smith, 2000). Additionally, Piaget focused on the change in cognition that occurs as children move from one ...


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...reason about their interrelation (Santrock et al., 2008). In this stage, children are able to solve problems in a rational way, but are typically not able to think abstractly. Lastly, the fourth Piagetian stage is the formal operational stage, which appears between the ages of 11 and 15. In this stage, individuals move beyond concrete experiences and begin to think abstractly (Santrock et al., 2008). Formal operational thought involves the ability reason logically and draw conclusions from the information available, as well as apply these processes to hypothetical situations. Abstraction and idealism are characteristics of formal operational thought (Santrock et al., 2008). He described logical thinking as hypothetical-deductive reasoning, in which adolescents begin to think more like scientists, devising plans to solve problems and systematically testing solutions.

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