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Piaget's Stages Of Cognitive Development Essay

2062 words - 9 pages

Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget is a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. Piaget believed that children play an active role in the growth of intelligence. He regarded children as philosophers who perceive the world as he or she experiences it (ICELS). Therefore in Piaget’s most prominent work, his theory on the four stages of cognitive development, much of his inspiration came from observations of children. The theory of cognitive development focuses on mental processes such as perceiving, remembering, believing, and reasoning. Through his work, Piaget showed that children think in considerably different ...view middle of the document...

A schema can be thought of as a unit of knowledge, relating to one aspect of the world including objects, actions, and abstract (theoretical) concepts (ICELS). They are used to understand and to respond to situations and are stored and applied when needed. A child is considered to be in a state of equilibrium or in a state of cognitive balance when she or he is capable of explaining what he or she is perceiving (schema) at the time (ICELS). The processes that form the building blocks of a schema are assimilation and accommodation.
Assimilation and accommodation are two of the four processes that enable the transition from one cognitive stage to another. Assimilation is the process of interpreting experiences in terms of schema whereas accommodation is the process of adjusting schema based on new information or new experiences. (Piaget 1973, p. 36) For example, a child may see a robin flying and thus conclude that all birds fly (assimilation), however upon learning a chicken cannot fly said child would have to adjust their existing schema of birds to accommodate chickens (accommodation). The other two of the four processes that enable the transition from one cognitive stage to another are equilibrium and disequilibrium. Equilibration is said to be the force which moves development along. Equilibrium occurs when a child's schemas can deal with most new information through assimilation. However, a state of disequilibrium occurs when new information cannot be fitted into existing schemas (Piaget 1973, p. 36). Thus the accommodation comes into play in order to restore a state of equilibrium. Together, assimilation and accommodation are processes of adjustment to changes in the environment and are defined as adaptation, the continuous process of using the environment to learn (ICELS). And, according to Piaget, adaptation is the most important principle of human functioning.
With these basic elements of cognitive learning established Piaget then began to establish his four stages of cognitive development. The first being the sensory – motor stage. This stage is considered to extend from birth to approximately age two. During this stage senses, reflexes, and motor abilities develop rapidly. During the early stages, infants are only aware of what is immediately in front of them. They focus on what they see, what they are doing, and physical interactions with their immediate environment (Piaget 1973, p. 36). Toward the end of the sensory-motor stage, the ability to form primitive mental images develops as the infant acquires object permanence (ICELS). Object permanence is the understanding that objects have a continued existence when they disappear from view. Until then, an infant doesn’t realize that objects can exist apart from him or herself. Thus in this stage behavior is organized around its sensory or motor effects culminates in attaining the concept of object permanence.
The next stage is the preoperational stage. This stage extend from...

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