WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTPiaget’s theory of cognitive development, and the implication for effective teaching strategiesIntroduction Jean Piaget, born in 1896, was a Swiss psychologist and genetic epistemologist most famously known for his study concerning how children develop intellectually throughout the course of childhood. According to Piaget, the four cognitive stages that children go through are the sensorymotor stage (birth-2 years), pre-operations stage (2 years-7 years), concrete operations stage (7 years-11 years), and lastly, the formal operations stage (11 years-16 years). Jean Piaget’s (1896-1980) theory of cognitive development, or also mainly known as developmental stage theory, is so successful that it is monopolizes the term “the four stages of cognitive development” and influences the works of other psychologists. Understanding cognitive development is one of the keys to helping teachers provide the right guidance to students of all ages. In this paper, we are going to discuss how Piaget’s theory of cognitive development aid us in finding effective teaching strategies.A.
Literature Review In his studies, Piaget believes in certain principles of development. His principles, supported by his own research and that of his Genevan colleagues, most notably that of Barbël Inhelder, are essential to those working with the development of intellectual skills. However, limiting to educators of young children, we have selected the following principles:We must all go through the same stages in the same sequence, moving from the simple to the complex.
Early learning is slower than later learning( interaction between our environment and our genetic endowment influences the rate of growth).Development is divided into four general stages or phases, with a gradual transition from one to another. Each of the four stages is characterized by modes of learning and thinking unique to that stage.
For Piaget, thought and intelligence are internalized actions. They are rooted in the actions of the sensorimotor period, the first of the four stages of cognitive development.Throughout all of the stages, there are two invariant “cognitive functions”, organization and adaptation. The former is involved in the categorization of sensory data.
The latter is comprised of assimilation (absorbing new information), and accommodation (adjusting to the new information).The result of the unchanging functions is what Piaget refers to as “cognitive structures.” They are actively developed by each individual and contain all of the information that he has assimilated and accommodated or is in the process of adapting. Piaget refers to the responses of the cognitive structures as “cognitive content.” The behaviors or cognitive content vary according to each person’s personal experience and level of maturation.As a result of the above, Piaget concludes that innate factors, environment, social transmission, and equilibration all influence our knowledge and its usage. For him, equilibration consists of the processes of equilibrium and disequilibrium which are in relative balance at all maturational levels, motivating us not only to assimilate and accommodate within stages but also to move from one stage to another.
Disequilibrium motivates us to learn and equilibrium leaves us at a higher level of learning. B. Research QuestionThesis questions:What are some key concepts in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development?What is constructivism? What is its impact? What is schema? How is it developed and acquired?How does Piaget’s theory contribute to finding effective teaching strategies? Supporting questions:How did Piaget’s findings influence Kohlberg’s? What is “Discovery Learning”? How does this help students learn their lesson better than the conventional way? II. MethodsThe main purpose of this study is to conduct a literature review of theoretical concepts to define Piaget’s cognitive development theory and identify its importance in teaching. In addition, this study will also try to look at the impacts of Piaget’s findings on other psychologists. We will briefly discuss children’s moral development (Lawrence Kohlberg) and discovery learning (Jerome Bruner).
Search StrategyTo conduct this research we used Google Scholar as a search engine. The following terms were used to generate search: Cognitive development, Jean Piaget, Childhood socialization, Schema, Constructivism, child moral development and discovery learning.Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria We included articles that are related to Jean Piaget and his theory of cognitive development. Articles that do not have those criteria were excluded. However, we also included articles on discovery learning related to Jerome Bruner’s and Kohlberg’s theories, which were used as a comparison to Piaget’s theory and to gain insight into how Piaget’s impacted other researches.
We extensively read through 30 articles and only 15 were considered based on the inclusion criteria and their potentiality to answering the research questions.III. Result & DiscussionsThemeConstructivismConstructivism is often confused with constructionism, an educational theory developed by Seymour Papert, inspired by constructivist and experiential learning ideas of Jean Piaget. Constructivism is a theory of knowledge (epistemology) that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. Piaget called these systems of knowledge “schema” (will be discussed in section B). Apart from learning theories, Piaget’s theory of constructivism puts the focus upon the students and their learning instead of teachers.
Instead of answering questions, the teachers must encourage students to challenge themselves and come to their own conclusions instead of being “spoon-fed.” Teachers must also play the role of a mentor, a consultant, and a coach. This means their teaching strategies include having students working together to solve problems, designating one student as the “expert” on a subject and having them teach their classmates, and allowing their students to compare or contrast their ideas (sometimes controversial) through presentations. Piaget’s theory of constructivist learning has had wide ranging impact on learning theories and teaching methods in education and is an underlying theme of many education reform movements. Jerome Bruner was one of the psychologists who developed learning theory based on constructivism. His works will be discussed in section c. SchemaPiaget called the schema the basic building block of intelligence. Schemas can be considered as “units” of knowledge, each relating to one aspect of the world, including objects, actions, and abstract concepts.
We also use schemas to understand and to respond to situations. For example, the schema a person has of a restaurant is a stored form of pattern which includes looking at a menu, ordering food, eating it and paying the bill. To Piaget, the development of a person’s mental processes are the increases in the number and complexity of a person’s schema.As infants, we are born with certain innate schemas, such as crying and sucking then develop additional schemas, such as babbling, crawling, etc. Piaget argued that children do not just passively learn but also actively try to make sense of their worlds. Children’s schemas help them remember, organize, and respond to information.Piaget’s influence on other researchersLawrence KohlbergPiaget is perhaps best known for his theory of children’s cognitive development, but he also proposed his own theory about children’s moral development. Piaget recognized that cognitive development is closely tied to moral development and was particularly interested in the way children’s thoughts about morality changed over time.
According to Piaget, once ideal reciprocity has been reached moral development has been completed. However, we now know that adolescents will continue to refine their moral decision-making process well into early adulthood. Piaget also underestimated the age at which children are able to decipher another person’s moral intention.
Despite these flaws, Piaget’s contributions remains significant and later influences developmental theorist Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development during the 1950’s. Unlike Piaget’s earlier theories, Kohlberg’s theory of moral development has been supported by contemporary research. Kohlberg developed a six stage theory of moral development, and he grouped these six stages into three, higher-order levels of development:The Pre-Conventional Level includes: a) stage one, the punishment and obedience orientationb) stage two, the instrumental purpose orientation. The Conventional Level includes: a) stage three, the morality of interpersonal cooperationb) stage four, the social-order-maintaining orientation. The Post-Conventional Level includes:a) stage five, the social-contract orientationb) stage six, the universal ethical principle orientation.According to Kohlberg’s theory, moral development proceeds in a linear way, gradually from one stage to the next, in a predictable, ordered sequence.
Kohlberg acknowledges each child’s different progress rates, and that not all teenagers progress to the final stage. Parents and caregivers may find it hard to endure the questioning or resistance of rules and challenge authority from youths. However, this process is essential for youth to develop values that will help them later in life. While some rebellion is to be expected, love, support, and guidance from parents and guardians (including teachers) are important for their growth. Giving appropriate discipline in teaching relies on understanding how students of each stage operate and make decisions. Jerome Bruner Jerome Seymour Bruner (October 1, 1915 – June 5, 2016) was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. He was ranked the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
He founded discovery learning, an inquiry-based, constructivist learning theory that takes place in situations where the learner uses his/her own past experience and existing knowledge to discover new information. Some examples are exploring and manipulating objects, dealing with questions and controversies, or performing experiments. Students may retain concepts and knowledge discovered on their own. Models that are based upon discovery learning model include: guided discovery, problem-based learning, simulation-based learning, case-based learning, incidental learning, among others. Discovery learning is also believed encourage active engagement, promote motivation, promote autonomy, responsibility, independence, develop creativity and problem solving skills, and tailor learning. Bruner states that appropriate instruction together with practice or experience determines the level of intellectual development. However, critics believe that it can create cognitive overload, potential misconceptions, and difficulty for teachers to detect problems and misconceptions.
His theory, unlike Kohlberg’s, stresses the role of education and the adult; and unlike Piaget, Bruner does not see stages of cognitive development as representing different separate modes of thought at different points of development. Instead, he sees a gradual development of cognitive skills and techniques into more integrated “adult” cognitive techniques. To Bruner, symbolic representation is crucial for cognitive development, and he attaches great importance to language in determining cognitive development because language is our primary means of symbolizing the world.Implications for effective teaching strategiesBased on Jean Piaget’s study regarding cognitive development, (Fusco, 1981) teacher should realize their students’ level of cognitive development to ensure effective teaching requiring appropriate materials and activities, good plans for lesson, and management of the classroom, which makes a successful delivery of knowledge to students. To produce effective teaching, teachers are suggested to consider four teaching implications relating to student’s cognitive development and and implications of effective teaching strategies for each stage.Sensorimotor Stage (birth to 2 year-old) The first stage where infant and toddler begin to learn about their environment through their senses and their reflexes begin to develop can be improved by getting the students to physically interact with the environment and objects. Teacher should give students plenty of activities such as playing with toys, clay, water and more, which helps the children to learn and recognize certain objects.
For example, when children squeeze clay, they will feel the thing and notice that it’ll be shaped by how their hands mess with the thing. Preoperational Stage (2 to 7 year-old) Entering the second stage, children begin to have symbolic thought and are more egocentric and intuitive. In this case, using visual aids for explanation makes the learning more effective. Teacher should encourage them to do role play in their princess or heroic characters so that they can experience feeling and seeing other people’s views towards certain matters. Moreover, teacher shouldn’t involve them in mathematic exercise or other kinds of workbook because they cannot perform operation yet. Concrete Operational Stage (7 to 11 year-old) During this stage, children are able to perform operation and achieve the classification skill. Therefore, operational tasks including adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing will contribute to their mental growth.
Moreover, Teacher should give them chance to classify objects on a complex level and do experiment with limited level. Formal Operational Stage (11 to adult age)In this Stage, adolescents have acquired abstract, idealistic, and logical thinking ability. It’s necessary to continue using the previous strategies to gain more on abstract thinking. Plus, chart and graph are useful in demonstration of lessons. To explain complex ideas, teachers should give uncomplicated examples.
Most importantly, allowing students to think and find solutions to problem in a given topic like social or life issue in group work will be helpful in improving their hypothetical-deductive reasoning skill.Implication for Education (Patricia K.W.,2007)1. Focus on process of students’ experience According to Piaget, direct experience is a factor contributing to children’s cognitive development. (Wadsworth ,1978) It’s believed that when student give incorrect answers, teacher shouldn’t simply tell the correct answer immediately because most incorrect ideas are just incomplete, but not completely wrong. Instead, teacher should try to figure out the best way to make the student find the error in their answer then explain the details of how the answer come from.
This is an example showing that student themselves experiencing providing incomplete answer not completely wrong one, as they get to access the error in their answer. 2. Acceptance in the different developmental process of individual learningIn fact, each child’s schema isn’t increased to the same level as the others since the ways they perceive in term of level of difficulties, interest and novelty , whether the way they acquire information is right or wrong , and how their competence increase due to number of experience are not the same. For example, some students may find the exercise easy while others may not feel the same. To achieve the cognitive growth, students must perform tasks with suitable level to their stage of cognitive development.
However, one class may not contain students with different stages of development, thus teacher should make effort to facilitate the class by arranging activities for both individuals and group.3. De-emphasis on practices aimed at accelerating the stage of cognitive developmentDue to one of the result of a research, concrete operational stage can be moved to formal operational stage owing to interim experience unrelated to training. Nonetheless, as specified by Piaget, the idea of trying to accelerate a child’s thinking at concrete operational stage to formal operational stage without letting the child spend enough periods properly improving his or her thinking abilities is not a good one as it may result in insufficient conceptual development leading to destruction of his or her future thinking capacities. 4. The necessity of social interaction among students in learning activities.As a matter of fact, student’s cognitive development depends significantly on how they socialize with their peers.
Piaget states that peer interaction helps build relationship for their emotional needs, and peer can be instructor yet to be acquired. Also peers’ explanation may be more understandable as they’re likely to be at the same stages. In relation to a study, after children with different stages of cognitive development exchanged their opposite perspective to problem situations , it was found that many preoperational kids advanced to concrete operational stage. IV.
ConclusionOur research about Piaget’s theory suggests that in order to teach effectively, we need to see things from students’ perspectives and juggle between many different roles when need be. Students should also be considered as individuals who have different growth rates and preferences. Even though Piaget’s theory receives some criticism, it still prevails and is the base of many theories in education (Bruner’s and Kohlberg’s). We may not be be able to use his theory exclusively in teaching due to its limitations. This means that recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of Piaget’s on top of other theories in the field is essential to finding the correct guidance for our students.
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