Cognitive Development and Language. Chapter 2. Three Big Questions. Nature vs. Nurture Which drives development? Impossible to separate influences; both are critical Continuity vs. Discontinuity Does progress ebb and flow or does it build gradually? Critical Periods
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Nature vs. Nurture
Which drives development?
Impossible to separate influences; both are critical
Continuity vs. Discontinuity
Does progress ebb and flow or does it build gradually?
‘Sensitive periods’ better descriptors for points where children are best able to learn
Different rates of development
Development is orderly
Development is gradual
Orderly, adaptive changes we go through from conception to death
What does this mean?
Types of development: physical, personal, social, cognitive
Maturation (nature rather than nurture)
Changes are genetically pre-determined
Similar across individuals and cultures
Parts of the brain:
Neurons and their components
Lobes and cortex (hierarchical functions)
Hemispheres and their role in cognition (lateralization)
Left associated with language processing and creativity
Right associated with visual-spatial organization
Less pronounced for left-handed persons and women
Communication mechanisms in the brain
Control transmission of chemicals called neurotransmitters
Action potentials, or tiny electrical surges, guide communication
Neurotransmitters are absorbed by other neurons’ dendritic branches, which continues the communication process.
“Types” of learning
Direct (vertical, oblique, horizontal)
Learner cognitive preferences or strengths
Some students will learn better with visual tasks, others with auditory tasks, etc.
Vary classroom activities to both cultivate a variety of skills and allow individuals opportunities to “shine” in their areas of strength
Plasticity and development
Young children have extremely plastic minds; they are heavily influenced by extreme events and flourish in rich environments that include diverse but controlled tactile, visual, auditory and other stimuli.
Many behavioral and cognitive disorders are neurological
Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who spent thousands of hours observing and writing about children in the early and middle 20th century
Piaget’s body of research (research corpus or research programme) focused on ways in which children’s development progresses as they grow older
Piaget is best known for two major ideas that serve as fundamentals of educational psychology:
Organizational structure of the mind
Stages of childhood development
Hypothesized learning is an on-going process of taking in and organizing new information
The mind is a network of nodes connected by links (much like neurons) that, together, function as frameworks for experiences and expectations. He called these schema (Woolfolk calls them “schemes”).
Schemata (plural of schema) are like “scripts” for our beliefs about certain situations
They are adaptive and help us function both in new and in frequent experiences
Piaget theorized that we all have schemata for many situations and develop them at an early age
Assimilation – fitting new information into existing schema
Accommodation – altering schema or creating new schema to fit new material
Equilibration – search for balance between existing schemata and new input
Disequilibrium – lack of balance between existing schemata and new input
Piaget hypothesized disequilibrium motivates us to engage in learning and work to establish equilibrium by means of accommodation.
Sensorimotor (0-2 years)
Imitation, memory and thought develop
Recognize object permanence
Reflex to goal-directed activity
Preoperational (2-7 years)
Language acquisition and use
Logical reasoning (A will lead to B)
Concrete operations (7-11 years)
Solve logical problems through manipulation
Laws of conservation
Formal operations (11- adult)
Scientific (logico-mathematical) reasoning
Social, multi-layered, complex thinking
Limitations of stage model
Value of stage model
What comes after formal operations?
Other terms of interest …
Compensation (e.g. height for width)
Seriation (sequential ordering)
Reversibility (follow thinking in multiple directions)
Case (1992/98) suggests children develop stage-wise across discrete domains, so they may advance more quickly in one domain than in another
Other ideas or explanations for Piaget’s findings?
Select materials and activities appropriate to students’ comprehension abilities
Challenge students, but provide adequate support in order to ensure they are able to move fluidly from disequilibrium to equilibrium and so on.
Knowledge is constructed
Children must interact with reality in order to learn. Opportunities to manipulate (e.g. play) and apply classroom material is critical.
Russian psychologist (1896-1934), much of whose work was suppressed until the dissolution of the USSR
Focused on sociocultural theory, the idea that all development takes place in social settings and is therefore influenced by social forces
Developed theories as he worked to improve his own teaching and looked for ideas that might help explain and guide his experiences as an educator
Information is passed in two phases: interpsychologically and then intrapsycho-logically
Experiences are co-constructed; both the teacher and the learner participate in the process of knowledge acquisition or construction
Piaget: Disequilibrium is the key to learning.
Vygotsky: Encounters with more experienced people (experts) is key to learning.
Piaget: Peer-to-peer interaction is the best source of motivation to learn.
Vygotsky: Adult or older person-to-child interactions as ideal sources of learning.
Tools employed in the culture, in frequent social situations (e.g. calculators, blogs, wikis, PDAs, cell phones, etc.) are critical to cognitive development
People are best able to represent their thoughts when they are familiar with commonly accepted forms of communication
Language is central to sociocultural theory because it is the primary means of information transmission between expert and learner
Private Speech vs. Egocentric Speech:
Piaget viewed egocentric speech as evidence of children’s social immaturity
Vygotsky viewed private speech as a tool for simplifying complex tasks
Have you ever found yourself talking out loud while trying to solve a difficult problem?
The Zone of Proximal development is known as the ZPD or Zo-Ped (common in Europe)
“Scaffolding” is the work required by the expert necessary to bring the learner from that which they are capable of doing alone to that which they are capable of doing with assistance.
It is also used to describe the act of assistance itself.
Language development is a part of the manner in which many of us learn about nuances of our culture and appropriate forms of interaction.
Those who have mastered one language are better able to learn others.
Thus, young children actually tend to learn foreign languages more slowly than children in middle childhood and adolescence.
Pronunciation, however, ought to be taught early; adolescents and older people tend to speak languages with an accent if they learned them after about age 12-14.
Your book provides an overview of language development stages in early childhood.
Western children seem to progress through development at different paces than non-Western children
Cognitive development and language development also seem to develop differently, though many variables must be taken into account
Vocabulary and meaning
Pragmatics (appropriate use of language)
Partnership with families
Piaget and Vygotsky suggest a paradigm of cognitive development through physical and social stimulation.
Cognitive development requires sensory stimulation; high variability in sensory experiences leads to high levels of cognitive development.
Children should have opportunities to play.
Students should not be assisted with that which they are able to do by themselves; they should be assisted to achieve slightly more than they might on their own.