Jean Piaget’s (1896-1980) Cognitive Development Theory. Piaget was a Swiss psychologist. He was a very keen observer from the very beginning; got published his first research paper at age 15. Factors affecting influencing Cognitive Development
• As a result of his study of philosophy and logic, he became interested in epistemology i.e., knowledge and knowing; the interest in observation and epistemology made a foundation of his theory of cognitive development.
• Piaget was influenced by Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution, unlike most of the other psychologists who were impressed by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Bergson believed in divine agency instead of chance as the force behind evolution: life possesses an inherent creative impulse.
• Piaget did his doctorate in Biological Science, but later became interested in psychology especially abnormal psychology.
• He secured a position in Alfred Binet’s laboratory In Paris where he got a chance to observe children’s performance, their right and wrong answers.
• Piaget’s work and observation generated an interest in children’s mental processes.
• The real shift took place when he started observing his own children from birth onwards. He kept records of their behavior and used them to trace the origins of children’s thoughts to their behavior as babies; later on he became interested in the thought of adolescents as well
Piagetian Method of Investigation
• Known as the Clinical Approach; a form of a structured observation.
• Piaget used to present problems/tasks to children of different ages, asked them to explain their answers. Their explanations were further probed through carefully phrased question.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
• Cognitive Development takes place in stages.
• The organization of behavior is qualitatively different in different Stages. Children throughout the world pass through a series of four stages of cognitive development in a fixed order.
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
• Sensorimotor stage
• Preoperational stage
• Concrete operational stage
• Formal operational stage
Essential Points of Piaget’s Theory
1. The stages emerge in a sequence. There is a constant order of succession for their emergence.
2. The progressive development of mental structures can be explained by neither heredity nor environment by itself.
Key Terms in Piaget’s Theory
According to Piaget, children’s thinking develops through two simultaneous processes: assimilation and accommodation
• Assimilation means the incorporation of new knowledge into existing schemes.
• Accommodation means the modification of the child’s existing schemes to incorporate new knowledge that does not fit in the scheme.
• Schemes: patterns of action that are involved in the acquisition and structuring of knowledge e.g. grasping, throwing, and rolling