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Developmental Theory- Cognitive


- Presented by
Hephziba (f08083)
Scholastica Sneha (f08109)
§ Cognitive development of human beings
has been thoroughly researched.
§ Theorists have suggested that children are
incapable of understanding the world until
they reach a particular stage of cognitive
§ Cognitive development is the process
whereby a child’s understanding of the
world changes as a function of age and
§ Theories of cognitive development seek to
explain the quantitative and qualitative
intellectual abilities that occur during
§ No theory of cognitive development has had
more impact than the cognitive stages
Je a n Pia g e t( 1 8 9 6 – 1 9 8 0 )
Swiss psychologist who began to study
intellectual development
Primarily trained in philosophy and zoology
His Cognitive Theory is influential in both
education and psychology fields.
Genetic epistemology - a natural timetable for
the development of the child's ability to think
 Children ‘s capacity to understand this world –
role of maturation
 "Piaget's work on children's
intellectual development owed much to his
early studies of water snails" (Satterly)
Stages of Cognitive Development
 He proposed that the thinking process will
develop through each of the stages until a
child can think logically. Understanding
cognitive development helps us arrange
appropriate lessons and learning
 The following are four of Piaget's
developmental stages:
 Sensori – Motor (Birth – 2 years)
 Pre – Operational (2 – 7 years)
 Concrete Operational (7 – 11 years)
 Formal Operational (11 years and up)

 He also said that children go through four
separate stages in a fixed order that is
universal in all children.
 Piaget declared that these stages differ not only
in the quantity of information acquired at each
stage, but also in the quality of knowledge and
understanding at that stage.
 Piaget suggested that movement from one
stage to the next occurred when the child
reached an appropriate level of maturation
and was exposed to relevant types of
 He proposed that children's thinking does not
develop entirely smoothly. Instead, there are
certain points at which it "takes off" and
moves into completely new areas and
Cognitive Development
Key concepts

 Schemas - A schema describes both the mental and physical
actions involved in understanding and knowing. Schemas are
categories of knowledge that help us to interpret and
understand the world. 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, add to, or change previously existing schemas.
For example, a child may have a schema about a type of
animal, such as a dog.
 Assimilation - The process of taking in new information into our
previously existing schema’s is known as assimilation. The
process is somewhat subjective, because we tend to modify
experience or information somewhat to fit in with our
preexisting beliefs. For example, seeing a dog and labeling it
"dog" is an example of assimilating the animal into the child's
dog schema.
 Accommodation - Another part of adaptation involves changing
or altering our existing schemas in light of new information, a
process known as accommodation. Accommodation involves
altering existing schemas, or ideas, as a result of new
information or new experiences. New schemas may also be
developed during this process.
 Equilibration - Piaget believed that all children try to strike a
balance between assimilation and accommodation, which is
achieved through a mechanism Piaget called equilibration. As
1.Sensori – Motor stage(0-2yrs)
First stage of cognitive development
The child starts to respond to reflexes
From being reflexive responding to stimuli
goal oriented
Some key terms to know
Object permanence - realization that object
continues to exist even when out of sight
Causality- recognition that certain events
cause other events(10 months)
Representational ability- capacity to mentally
represent objects and actions in memory
Schemes- The representation in the mind of a
set of perceptions, ideas, and/or actions, which
go together. 
Object Permanence
Six Sub- stages of sensori motor
o Simple Reflexes – Birth to 6 weeks
§ Coordination of sensation and action through
reflexive behaviors
§ Sucking, Palmar grasp

§ Object permanence is absent

o First habits and primary circular reactions phase
– 6 weeks to 4 months
§ Coordination of sensation and two types of
schemes: habits and primary circular reactions
§ Main focus is still on the infant’s body

o Secondary circular reactions phase – 4 months
to 8 months
§ Development of habits
§ become more object-oriented, moving beyond
§ Three new abilities - intentional grasping for a
desired object, secondary circular reactions,
and differentiations between ends and
§ Causality starts in this stage
o Coordination of secondary circular reactions
stage – 8 months to 12 months
§ Coordination of vision and touch--hand-eye
§ First proper intelligence
o Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and
curiosity – 12 to 18 months
§ Infants become intrigued by the many properties
of objects
§ the discovery of new means to meet goals
§ young scientist
§ Object permanence is developing
o Internalization of Schemes – 18 to 24 months
§ Infants develop the ability to use primitive
symbols and form enduring mental
§ Passage into pre – operational stage
§ Representational ability and causality is learnt
§ Develop insights, language develops

2.Pre – operational Stage(2-7yrs)
Learns to use language and to represent objects
by images and words
Key concepts:
o Egocentrism - The belief that you are the
centre of the universe and everything
revolves around you

objects are capable of actions and have life like

 Centration - act of focusing all attention on

one characteristic compared to the others.
Conservation - The realization that
objects or sets of objects stay the same
even when they are changed about or
made to look different. There are 7 types
of conservation in this stage:
§ Number
§ Length
§ Liquid
§ Mass
§ Weight
§ Area
§ Volume

Sub- stages of Pre operational stage
 The Symbolic Function Sub stage (2 to 4 yrs)
 child is able to formulate designs of objects
that are not present.
 Progress in Mental abilities -language and
pretend play
o Egocentrism and Animism is dominating
o Exp : views of 3 mountains
 The Intuitive Thought Sub stage (4 to 7 yrs)
o children have vast knowledge and they are
unaware that how they know it
o Primitive reasoning, curious – ask questions
o Centration and conservation
o Fails to show conservation of liquid, number,
matter, length, volume, and area
o Exp : 2 beakers – height and width, dogs and
Errors in logic show the transition between
intuitiveness in solving problems and true
logical reasoning acquired in later years
when the child grows up.
Children primarily learn through imitation
and play throughout these first two stages,
as they build up symbolic images through
internalized activity
Research shows that there are different age
differences in reaching the understanding
of conservation based on the degree to
which the culture teaches these tasks
Children develop an internal representation
of the world that allows them to describe
people, events, and feelings.
3.Concrete operational Stage(7-11yrs)
Develops ability to think logically
Child learns to decenter- take all aspects of
the situation into consideration while
drawing conclusion
Thinking is limited to that situation only
Children in this stage can, however, only
solve problems that apply to actual
(concrete) objects or events, and not
abstract concepts or hypothetical tasks.
Important processes during this stage are as

Key Process
o Seriation—the ability to sort objects in
an order according to size, shape, or
any other characteristic. Ex : colors
o Transitivity- The ability to recognize
logical relationships among elements in
a serial order, and perform 'transitive
inferences' Ex : If A is taller than B,
and B is taller than C, then A must
be taller than C
o Classification—the ability to name and
identify sets of objects according to
appearance, size or other
characteristic, including the idea that
o Decentering—where the child takes into
account multiple aspects of a problem
to solve it. Ex : difference between wide
and taller cup

o Reversibility—the child understands

that numbers or objects can be
changed, then returned to their original
state. Ex : 3 + 2 = 5 and 5 – 2 = 3
o Elimination of Egocentrism—the
ability to view things from another's
perspective (even if they think
4.Formal Operational Stage(11yrs-)
Abstract thinking, logical reasoning, ability
to draw conclusion, problem solving
Abstract quality of the adolescent's thought
-verbal problem solving ability
Logical quality of thought-Problem solving -
Trial and error
Practical application
Ability to understand love and shades of
Adolescent egocentrism governs the way of
thinking about social concerns
Heightened self consciousness
Key process
Hypothetical-deductive reasoning-
means that they develop hypotheses or
best guesses, and systematically deduce,
or conclude, which is the best path to
follow in solving the problem.
Adolescent egocentrism -two types
imaginary audience that involves attention
getting behavior
personal fable which involves an
adolescent's sense of personal uniqueness
and invincibility
Piaget's Impact on
Piaget's focus on qualitative development
had an important impact on education.
While Piaget did not specifically apply his
theory to education, many educational
programs are built upon the belief that
children should be taught at the level for
which they are developmentally prepared.
In addition to this, a number of instructional
strategies have been derived from Piaget's
providing a supportive environment
utilizing social interactions and peer
helping children see fallacies and
Research Studies
 Data from cross-sectional studies of children in a
variety of western cultures seem to support
this assertion for the stages of sensorimotor,
preoperational, and concrete operations.
 However, data from similar cross-sectional
studies of adolescents do not support the
assertion that all individuals will automatically
move to the next cognitive stage as they
biologically mature.
 For formal operations, it appears that
maturation establishes the basis, but a special
environment is required for most adolescents
and adults to attain this stage.

§ Piaget himself noted, development does not
always progress in the smooth manner his
theory seems to predict. 'Decalage', or
unpredicted gaps in the developmental
progression, suggest that the stage model is
at best a useful approximation.
§ Minimizes the importance of other aspects of
§ The ability to handle real life problems, and
wisdom that helps people cope with an
ambiguous world
§ Formal reasoning is not the only aspect of
mature thinking
§ Piaget's theory is 'domain general', predicting
that cognitive maturation occurs concurrently
across different domains of knowledge (such
Domain-specific knowledge is constructed as
children develop and integrate knowledge.
Contextual influences in the child's life like
his/her immediate family, school, society
and the world, and how these impact the
child's development is not covered
Modern neuro scientific research was not
available to Piaget when he was
constructing his theory.