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Cognitive development
• Cognitive development refers to the thinking
skills in children that can be seen through the
way they process information according to
certain levels of development.
Cognitive development
• Children's cognitive abilities are also
considered to result from social interaction
with others.
• Figures such as Piaget and Vygotsky, have
presented their theories with regard to
cognitive development that are very useful in
the teaching and learning process.
Basic Principles of Piaget’s Theory

• Piaget believed that children are naturally

• Piaget: Cognition as a Constructive Process
• What research method did Piaget use, and what
universal thought processes and stages did he
• In Piaget’s cognitive-stage theory, development
results from the increasingly complex
organisation of schemes.
• This happens through the processes of
adaptation and equilibration.
Basic Principles of Piaget’s Theory

Four stages of cognitive development:

• the sensorimotor;
• preoperational,
• concrete operations, and
• formal operations.
Infancy and Toddlerhood:
Sensorimotor Stage
• During the sensorimotor stage, according to
Piaget, infant progress from primary to
secondary to tertiary circular reactions and
finally to the development of representational
Stage Approximate Age Characteristics
Sensorimot Birth to 2 years Infant’s knowledge of the world is based on
or senses and motor skills. By the end of the period,
infant uses mental representation and understand
object permanence.

Preoperatio 2 to 6 years Child learns how to use symbols such as worlds

nal and numbers and to represent aspects of the
world, but relates to the world only through his or
her perspectives

Concrete 7 to 11 years Child understands and applies logical operations

operational to experiences, provides they are focused on the
here and now

Formal Adolescence and Adolescent or adult thinks abstractly, speculates

operational beyond on hypothetical situations, and reasons
deductively about what may be possible.
Substages of Sensorimotor
• The sensorimotor stage consists of six substages
which flow from one to another as a baby’s
schemes become more elaborate.
• During the first five substages, babies learn to
coordinate input from their senses and organize
their activities in relation to their environment.
• During the sixth and last substage, they progress
from trial-and-error learning to the use of
symbols and concepts to solve simple problems.
Substage Age Description Behaviour
Use of Birth to 1 Infants exercise their Dorri begins
reflexes month inborn reflexes and gain sucking when her
some control over them. mother’s breast is
They do not coordinate in her mouth
information from their
senses. They do not grasp
an object they are looking
Primary 1 to 4 months Infant repeat pleasurable When given a
circular behaviors that first occur bottle, Jesse, who
reactions by chance (such as thumb is usually breast-
sucking). Activities focus on fed, is able to
infant’s body rather than adjust his sucking
on effects of the behaviour to the rubber
on the environment. nipple
Infants make first acquired
adaptations; that is, they
suck different objects
differently. They begin to
coordinate sensory
information and grasp
Secondary 4 to 8 Infants become more Benjamin pushes
circular months interested in the environment; pieces of dry
ractions they repeat actions that bring cereal over the
interesting results(such as edge of his high
shaking a rattle) and prolong chair tray one at a
interesting experiences. Action time and watches
are intentinal but not initially each piece as it
goal-directed. falls to the floor

Coordination 8 to 12 Behaviour is more deliberate Nancy pushes the

of secondary months and purposeful(intentional) as button on her
schemes infants coordinate previously musical nursery
learned schemes (such as rhyme book, and
shaking a rattle) and use “Twinkle, Twinkle,
previously learned behaviors to Little Star” plays.
attain their goals (such as She pushes this
crawling across the room to get button over and
a desired toy). They can over again,
anticipate events. choosing it instead
of the buttons for
the other songs.
Tertiary circular 12 to 18 Toddlers show When Tony’s big
reactions months curiosity and sister holds his
experimentation; they favourite board
purposefully vary book up to his
their actions to see crib bars, he
results (for example, reaches for it. His
by shaking different first efforts to
rattles to hear their bring the book
sounds). They actively into his crib fail
explore their world to because the book
determine what is is too wide. Soon,
novel about an Tony turns the
object, event, or book sideways
situation. They try out and hugs it,
new activities and use delighted with his
trial and error in success.
solving problems.
Mental 18 to 24 Since toddlers can Jenny plays with
combinations months mentally represent her shape box,
events, they are no searching
longer confined to carefully for the
trial and error to right hole for
solve problems. each shape
Symbolic thought before trying and
allows toddlers to succeeding.
begin to think about
events and anticipate
their consequences
without always
resorting to action.
Toddlers begin to
demonstrate insight.
They can use
symbols, such as
gestures and words,
and can pretend.
Preoperational Stage

What are typical cognitive advances and immature

aspects of preschool children’s thinking?
• During the preoperational stage, the symbolic function
comes into its own. However, thinking remains illogical
and inflexible
• The dual representation hypothesis is may explain why
children under age 3 have trouble working with scale
models, but 3-year-olds do not.
• Preoperational children seem able to reason about
causal; relationships situations they understand
Preoperational Stage

• Although Piaget observed animism in preoperational children, more

recent research suggest that even infants can tell the difference
between what is alive and what is not
• As Piaget observed preoperational children de not understand d
principles of conversation because of inability to decenter. Their
logic is also limited by irreversibility and a focus on states rather
than transformations
• Preoperational children appear to be less egocentric than Piaget
• Various aspects of theory of mind seem to develop markedly
between the ages of 3 and 5. These include knowledge about
thinking and mental states, false beliefs deception, and
distinguishing between appearance and reality and between
fantasy and reality.
Middle Childhood:
Concrete Operations
• What changes did piaget describe in the thinking of
school-age children?
• According to Piaget, Children in the stage of concrete
operations are less egocentric than before, can think
logically, and are more proficient at spatial thinking,
making judgement about cause and effect,
categorization, inductive and deductive reasoning, and
conversation. However, the concreteness of their
thinking may result in horizontal decalage.
• Contrary to Piaget’s original belief, both neurological
maturation and cultural experience seem to contribute
to the development of such skills as conversation
Adolescence: Formal Operations

• How does adolescents’ thinking differ from younger children’s?

• Adolescents in Piaget’s stage of formal operations can engage in
hypothetical-deductive reasoning. Since experience and cultural values
play an important part in attaining this stage, not everyone becomes
capable of formal operations.
• Many adolescents, and even adults, do not reach the stage of formal
• Critics of Piaget point out that he underestimated young children’s
abilities, overestimated some older children’s abilities, and failed to pay
enough attention to individual differences, unevenness of development,
and cultural influences.
• Hypothetical-deductive reasoning
Adolescence: Formal Operations

• Vygotsky: Cognition as a Collaborative Process

• What processes did Vygotsky consider
fundamental to cognitive development, and what
concepts and applications flow from his work?
• Vygotsky maintained that cognitive growth is a
collaborative process and that children learn their
culture’s way of thinking through social
interaction. Language and play are keys to
cognitive development
Adolescence: Formal Operations

• Children learn through the guidance of adults,

older siblings, and more skilled peers.
• This guidance is most effective in the zone of
proximal development (ZPD).
• Parents and teachers help children learn
through what followers of Vygotsky call
scaffolding and guided participation.
Adolescence: Formal Operations

• Vygotsky’s theory of dynamic testing is based

on mutual collaboration of teacher and
• Perhaps because Vygotsky died young, his
theory is not fully developed and researched.
• It lacks normative criteria for development
and a well-developed concept of culture and
can be misread as minimising the role of the

• Cognitive development is not merely acquiring

knowledge and adding to it.
• Knowledge must be accompanied by understanding
and wisdom otherwise it is barren.
• Cognitive is also described as intellectual or mental
• The cognitive development process implies the
progressive changes in the mental process which go on
from birth to death.
• Mental process is an activity on the part of the
organism which is of a psychological nature or involved
in the mind.