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Cognitve Theory

Cognitve Theory

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Published by manu sethi

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Published by: manu sethi on May 05, 2010
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How we as human beings develop cognitively has been thoroughly researched. Theorists havesuggested that childrenare incapable of understanding the world until they reach a particular  stage of cognitive development. Cognitive development is the process wherebya child’s understanding of the world changes as a function of age and experience. Theories of cognitive development seek to explain the quantitative and qualitative intellectual abilities thatoccur during development. No theory of cognitive development has had more impact than the cognitive stages presented byJean Piaget. Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, suggested that children go through four separatestages in a fixed order that is universal in all children. Piaget declared that these stages differ notonly in the quantity of information acquired at each, but also in the quality of knowledge andunderstanding at that stage. Piaget suggested that movement from one stage to the next occurredwhen thechildreached an appropriate level of maturation and was exposed to relevant types of experiences. Without experience, children were assumed incapable of reaching their highestcognitive ability
Jean Piaget's Background
Jean Piagetwas born in Switzerland in 1896. After receiving his doctoral degree at age 22,Piaget formally began a career that would have a profound impact on both psychology andeducation. After working with Alfred Binet, Piaget developed an interest in the intellectualdevelopment of children. Based upon his observations, he concluded that children were not lessintelligent than adults, they simply think differently. Albert Einstein called Piaget’s discovery"so simple only a genius could have thought of it."Piaget's stage theory describes the cognitive development of children. Cognitive developmentinvolves changes in cognitive process and abilities. In Piaget’s view, early cognitivedevelopment involves processes based upon actions and later progresses into changes in mentaloperations.Piaget believed that reality is a dynamic system of continuous change, and as such is defined inreference to the two conditions that define dynamic systems that change. Specifically, he arguedthat reality involves transformations and states. Transformations refer to all manners of changesthat a thing or person can undergo. States refer to the conditions or the appearances in whichthings or persons can be found between transformations. For example, there might be changesin shape or form (for instance, liquids are reshaped as they are transferred from one vessel toanother, humans change in their characteristics as they grow older), in size (e.g., a series of coins on a table might be placed close to each other or far apart) in placement or location inspace and time (e.g., various objects or persons might be found at one place at one time and at adifferent place at another time). Thus, Piaget argued, that if human intelligence is to be adaptive,it must have functions to represent both the transformational and the static aspects of reality. He proposed that operative intelligence is responsible for the representation and manipulation of thedynamic or transformational aspects of reality and that figurative intelligence is responsible for 
the representation of the static aspects of reality).
Key ConceptsSchemas
- A schema describes both the mental and physical actions involved in understandingand knowing. Schemas are categories of knowledge that help us to interpret and understand theworld. In Piaget's view, a schema includes both a category of knowledge and the process of obtaining that knowledge. As experiences happen, this new information is used to modify, addto, or change previously existing schemas. For example, a child may have a schema about a typeof animal, such as a dog. If the child's sole experience has been with small dogs, a child might believe that all dogs are small, furry, and have four legs. Suppose then that the child encountersa very large dog. The child will take in this new information, modifying the previously existingschema to include this new information.
- The process of taking in new information into our previously existing schema’sis known as assimilation. The process is somewhat subjective, because we tend to modifyexperience or information somewhat to fit in with our preexisting beliefs. In the example above,seeing a dog and labeling it "dog" is an example of assimilating the animal into the child's dogschema.
- Another part of adaptation involves changing or altering our existingschemas in light of new information, a process known as accommodation. Accommodationinvolves altering existing schemas, or ideas, as a result of new information or new experiences. New schemas may also be developed during this process.
- Piaget believed that all children try to strike a balance between assimilation andaccommodation, which is achieved through a mechanism Piaget called equilibration. Aschildren progress through the stages of cognitive development, it is important to maintain a balance between applying previous knowledge (assimilation) and changing behavior to accountfor new knowledge (accommodation). Equilibration helps explain how children are able tomove from one stage of thought into the next.
Piaget's four stages
According to Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, intelligence is the basic mechanism of ensuring equilibrium in the relations between the person and the environment. This isachieved through the actions of the developing person on the world. At any moment indevelopment, the environment is assimilated in the schemes of action that are already availableand these schemes are transformed or accommodated to the peculiarities of the objects of theenvironment, if they are not completely appropriate. Thus, the development of intelligence is acontinuous process of assimilations and accommodations that lead to increasing expansion of the field of application of schemes, increasing coordination between them, increasinginteriorization, and increasing abstraction.
Sensorimotor period (Birth -2 years)
The Sensorimotor Stage is the first of the four stages of cognitive development. "In this stage,infants construct an understanding of the world by coordinating sensory experiences (such asseeing and hearing) with physical, motoric actions." "Infants gain knowledge of the world fromthe physical actions they perform on it." "An infant progresses from reflexive, instinctual actionat birth to the beginning of symbolic thought toward the end of the stage." "Piagetdivided thesensorimotor stage into six sub-stages":
1 Simple ReflexesBirth-6 weeks"Coordination of sensation and action through reflexive behaviors". Three primary reflexes are described byPiaget: suckingof objects in the mouth, following moving or  interesting objects with the eyes, and closing of the handwhen an object makes contact with the palm ( palmar grasp).Over the first six weeks of life, these reflexes begin to becomevoluntary actions; for example, the palmar reflex becomesintentional grasping.).2 First habits and primary circular reactions phase6 weeks-4months"Coordination of sensation and two types of schemes: habits(reflex) and primary circular reactions (reproduction of anevent that initially occurred by chance). Main focus is still onthe infant's body."3 Secondarycircular reactions phase4–8 monthsDevelopment of habits."Infants become more object-oriented, moving beyond self-preoccupation; repeat actions that bringinteresting or pleasurable results." This stage is associated primarily with the development ocoordination  betweenvisionand prehension. Three new abilities occur at this stage: intentional grasping for a desired object, secondarycircular reactions, and differentiations between ends andmeans. At this stage, infants will intentionally grasp the air inthe direction of a desired object, often to the amusement of friends and family. Secondary circular reactions, or therepetition of an action involving an external object begin; for example, moving a switch to turn on a light repeatedly4.Coordination of 8–12 mont"Coordination of vision and touch--hand-eye coordination;

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