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Cognitive Development. “Acquiring knowledge”. I. What is cognitive development?. The process by which our intellectual abilities (problem solving, perception, reasoning, etc.) form & evolve over time. Are cognitions different from behaviors?????.

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Cognitive development

Cognitive Development

“Acquiring knowledge”


I what is cognitive development
I. What is cognitive development?

  • The process by which our intellectual abilities (problem solving, perception, reasoning, etc.) form & evolve over time.


Are cognitions different from behaviors
Are cognitions different from behaviors?????

From a behaviorist point of view, cognitions (thoughts, beliefs) are believed to be “actions” and as such are behaviors.

The primary difference between cognitions & other overt behaviors that can be seen is the location.

Skinner argued that cognitions are really behaviors that occur inside the skin, which he called private events.


What are cognitions
What are cognitions??

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Problem Solving

  • Others include: beliefs, reasoning, perceptions


Ii theories of cognitive development
II. Theories of cognitive development:

  • 1. Piaget’s theory

  • 2. Vygotsky’s theory

  • 3. Information-processing theory


A piaget s theory
A. Piaget’s theory:

  • Is a stage theory of development.

  • Examines how children acquire knowledge from birth onward.

  • Examines the processes by which children’s thinking changes over time.


Important contributions of piaget s theory
Important contributions of Piaget’s theory:

  • 1. Focused on children being active participants in the learning process.

  • 2. Argued that children adapt thinking & learn from their mistakes.

  • 3. Provided a broad-based view of cognitive development in the natural context of the environment.

  • 4. Object permanence.


Assumptions of stage theories
Assumptions of stage theories:

  • 1. Children’s thinking in earlier stages differs qualitatively from their reasoning in later stages.

  • 2. At a given point in development, children reason similarly on many problems.

  • 3. Changes from one stage to the next are marked by an abrupt transition.


How do children progress from one stage to another
How do children progress from one stage to another?

  • Piaget argued that we need to adapt to our environment.

  • Two processes are critical to adaptation: Assimilation & accommodation (mutually influence one another).


1 assimilation
1. Assimilation:

  • We transform incoming information so that it fits within our existing way of thinking.

  • We add new information to our existing mental framework.

  • (E.g., an infant grasps a new object with same strategy she used for grasping other objects.).


2 accommodation
2. Accommodation:

  • Adjusting our knowledge (framework) in response to characteristics of an object or event (that is often different from what we’ve encountered).

  • Changing existing mental framework to new information.

  • (E.g., infant changes the way she grasps a new object, based on its shape).


Piaget s stages of cognitive development
Piaget’s stages of cognitive development:

  • 1.     Sensorimotor period (birth to 2 yrs.)

  • 2.     Preoperational period (2-6 yrs.)

  • 3.     Concrete operations period (6-12 yrs.)

  • 4.     Formal operations period (12+)


1 sensorimotor
1. Sensorimotor:

  • Infants use reflexes to form primitive mental representations of objects & events.

  • Symbolic thought begins, allowing infants to devise strategies for attaining goals & solving problems.

  • Hallmark: Child learns that objects have permanence, even if out of sight (object permanence) by 8 months of age.


A was piaget correct about the timing of when children acquire object permanence
A. Was Piaget correct about the timing of when children acquire Object Permanence?

  • No!!! Infants appear to have the concept of object permanence much earlier than Piaget thought.

  • Piaget argued that infants show object permanence by 8 months or after.

  • It turns out that infants as young as 3.5 months have object permanence concept.


2 preoperational period 2 6 yrs
2. Preoperational Period (2-6 yrs.):

  • Symbolic thought improves as language acquisition comes on-line. Children start babbling in first year of life, and start producing simple two-word sentences by age 2.

  • Mental representations that allow children to think about objects in their absence develops.

  • Hallmark: Cannot conserve objects (changing an object’s physical appearance does not alter substance of object.)


2 stages in preoperational period
2. stages in preoperational period:

  • A. Preconceptual stage (2-4 years):

    1. Animistic thinking (the attribution of life to inanimate objects).

    E.g, a child believing the wind talks to the trees.


Conversation between piaget a preoperational child demonstrating animalistic thinking
Conversation between Piaget & a preoperational child demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • Piaget: Does the sun move?

  • Child: Yes, when one walks it follows. When one turns around it turns around too.

  • Piaget: Why does it move?

  • Child: Because when one walks, it goes too.

  • Piaget: Why does it go?

  • Child: To hear what we say.

  • Piaget: Is it alive?

  • Child: Of course, otherwise it wouldn’t follow us, it couldn’t shine. (Piaget, 1960, p.215)


2 egocentricity
2. Egocentricity: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

The child views world from his/her own perspective; can’t see it from others view.

  • The dialogue where the sun follows the child illustrates the child’s sense of egocentric thinking.


Piaget s 3 mountain task egocentrism
Piaget’s 3-Mountain Task: demonstrating animalistic thinking: egocentrism

  • Models of 3 mountains of different sizes are placed on a square table & chairs are placed at all four sides of the table.

  • The child is seated in 1 chair, & dolls are placed in the other 3 chairs, 1 at a time.

  • Child is asked what doll sees. Has to select 1 set of drawings or use cardboard cutouts to construct doll’s view.

  • Piaget found kids couldn’t consistently identify dolls’ view from each of the three views until 9-10 yrs old.


Criticisms of 3 mountain task
Criticisms of 3-Mountain Task: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • 1. Piaget’s Models lacked salient characteristics that could allow kids to differentiate 1 view from the next.

  • 2.  The task of reconstructing the display, or choosing the appropriate drawings may be beyond the ability of a young child.

  • Borke (1975) had child do task, but placed snowcaps, trees, or houses, on the sides of the mountains, to make them more distinctive and also asked kids to rotate a small model of the mountain display so that they could present the correct view, rather than reconstruct the scene from drawings. This resulted in correct performance in kids as young as 3 years.


B intuitive stage
B. Intuitive Stage: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • Child can solve some problems, but can’t tell you why.

    Children cannot:

     *Perform a seriation task- in which objects are grouped on the basis of a specific dimension (height, length).

    *Perform class inclusion problems (if child is given 5 toy cats & 3 toy short-haired tabbies (a type of cat) & asked whether there are more cats than tabbies, they can’t do it.


Limitations of preoperational thought
Limitations of Preoperational Thought demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • Preoperational children cannot conserve (matter, liquid,etc.). Conservation—altering an object’s physical appearance, does alter its basic properties.

  • Conservation of liquid task. The experimenter shows a child 2 short wide glasses with the same amount of liquid.

  • Then, the experimenter pours the liquid from 1 of the glasses into a tall & skinny glass.

  • The child is asked which glass contains more & picks the tall glass.


2 the period of concrete operations
2 demonstrating animalistic thinking: . The Period of Concrete Operations

  • Learn to perform operations; mentally manipulate representations.

  • Can conserve (number, matter, & liquid).

  • Master concept that operations are reversible & may be organized with other operations into larger systems.


3 period of formal operations
3. demonstrating animalistic thinking: Period of Formal Operations:

  • Hallmark- capacity to thinkabstractly.

  • Learn that operations may be organized into more elaborate systems.

  • (a girl thinking about why she is thinking about thinking)

  • Adolescents realize that the reality they live in, may be one of several realities they could experience.


Criticisms of piaget s theory
Criticisms of Piaget’s theory demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • 1. Piaget underestimated infant capabilities & older children’s cognitions.

  • 2. Piaget was wrong about object permanence & conservation.


B vygotsky s theory
B. Vygotsky’s theory: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • Is a stage theory.

  • Children’s thinking—the result of their interaction with more skilled & sophisticated partners (parents, teachers, etc.).

  • Children born with innate abilities to learn, but need social interaction to develop cognitively.


Elementary and higher mental functions
Elementary and Higher Mental Functions: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • Elementary functions– Are innate structures (memory, attention, & perception) that we all possess that influence our interaction with others.

  • Higher mental functions (logic, abstract reasoning) –Require complex mediators (language; symbols) to develop.


The zone of proximal development
The Zone of Proximal Development: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • The difference between a child’s “actual developmental level” & his/her potential as determined by an adult through the child’s interaction with more capable peers & adults.

  • Examines children’s potential during optimal conditions.


Overview of vygotsky s theory
Overview of Vygotsky’s theory: demonstrating animalistic thinking:

  • 1. Focused on importance of social interactions in cognitive development.

  • 2. Social contexts are important in development.

  • 3. Did not specify the processes that govern development nor does it tell us whether they are the same at all


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