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Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner Information Processing Theories

Cognitive Development
What is cognitive development?
According to Meadows (1993,1995), cognitive development is concerned with the study of the child as a thinker. Different theoretical accounts of how the child's thinking develops rest on very different images of what the child is like
How did Piaget see children?
Piaget sees the child as an organism adapting to its environment, as well as a scientist constructing its own understanding of the world
How did Vygotsky see children?
Vygotsky, in contrast with Piaget (and the information processing approach), sees the child as a participant in an interactive process, by which socially and culturally determined knowledge and understanding gradually became individualised.
Bruner, like Vygotsky, emphasizes the social aspects of the child's cognitive development.
How do information processing theories see children?
Information processing theories see children as adults, as symbol manipulators.
Psychologists views on Piaget
Some years ago, Piaget's theory was regarded as the major framework or paradigm within child development. Despite remaining a vital source of influence, both in psychology and education, today, there are hardly any orthodox Piagetians left (Dasen, 1994). Many fundamental aspects of Piagets thory have been challenged, and fewer and fewer developmental psychologists now subscribe to his or other 'hard' stage theories.(Durkin, 1995) Nonetheless, Piaget is still the most comprehensive account of how children come to understand the world (Schaffer, 2004). Arguable, however, it was a little too 'cold'-that is, concerned with purely intellectual functions that supposedly can by studied separately from socio-economic functions. Vygotsky tried to redress the balance (Schaffer, 2004)
Piagets theory: The child as a scientist
Rather than trying to explain individual difference (why some children are more intelligent than others), Piaget was interested in how intelligence itself changes as children grow. According to Piaget, cognitive development occurs through the interaction of innate capacities with environmental events, and progresses through a series of hierarchal, qualitatively different, stages.
Define genetic epistemology
How intelligence itself changes as children grow.
Piagets theory
1. All children pass through the stages in the same sequence without skipping any or (except in cases of brain damage) regressing to earlier ones (they're invariant)

2. The stages are also the same for everyone irrespective of culture (they're universal)

3. Underlying the changes are certain functional invariants, fundamental aspects of the developmental process which remain the same and work in the same way through various stages. The most important of these are assimilation, accomodation and equilibration.

4. The principle cognitive structure that changes is the schema
What is a schema?
A schema is the basic building block or unit of intelligent behaviour. Piaget saw schemas as mental structures which organise past experiences and provide a way of understanding future experiences.

In simpler words: schemas are categories or the basic structures we use to organise information
The arrangement of schemas/examples:
Life begins with simple schemas, which are largely confined to inbuilt reflexes. For example, babies will reflexively suck a nipple and other objects, such as a finger. To learn to suck from a bottle or drink from a cup, the initial sucking reflex must be modified through accomodation. As we grow, our schemas become increasively complex
What is Assimilation
The process by which we incorporate new information into existing schemas. i.e. Baby that sucks a nipple learns to suck a
What is Accomodation
A mental process that restructures existing schemas so that the new info is better understood ex:a child's schema of a bird includes any flying object, until they learn that a butterfly or a plane is not a bird
A mechanism that Piaget proposed to explain how children shift from one stage of thought to the next.; the process of seeking mental balance
Assimilation, Acomodation, Disequilibrium, Accomodation
Assimilation= fitting the world into existing schemas. Equilibrium = new experiences that existing schemas cannot deal with
Disequilibrium ->Accomodation (changing existing schemas to fit the world
Piagets four stages of cognitive development
Sensorymotor, preoperational, concrete operational, formal operational
How old are children going through the "sensorimotor" stage of development?
0-2 years old
How old are children going through the "pre-operational" stage of development?
2-7 years old
How old are children going through the "concrete operations" stage of development?
How old are children going through the "formal operational" stage of development?
11 years onwards
sensorimotor stage (0-2)
I, in Piaget's theory, the stage (from birth to about 2 years of age) during which infants know the world mostly in terms of their sensory impressions and motor activities
Object permanence
recognition that things continue to exist even though hidden from sight; infants generally gain this after 3 to 7 months of age
The general symbolic function
a child can perform Symbolic Functions or think about objects even though they are not real or present. At this stage, they engage in rich pretend play and use more language.

For example, a child will sing to a teddy bear and pretend to put it to sleep.
The Pre-Operational stage
The main difference between this and the sensory motor stage is the continued development and use of internal images, or interiorised schemas, symbols and language, especially important for the child's developing sense of self awareness. However, the child tends to be influenced by how things look rather than by principles or operations
What is Seriation?
the ability to arrange items in an increasing or decreasing order based on weight, volume, number, or size
What is Artificialism?
the belief of the preoperational child that all objects are made by people
What is Syncretic thought?
The tendency to link together any neighboring objects or events on the basis of what individual instances have in common.
What is transductive reasoning?
children do not use deductive or inductive reasoning; instead they jump from one particular to another and see cause where none exists. ex. sara hits brother. brother gets sick. sara caused the sickness.
What is Centration?
A preoperational thought pattern involving the inability to take into account more than one factor at a time ex:when child is thirsty, they will want to drink out of a big glass because they think it hols more juice
What is egocentrism?
Children see and think of the world from their own standpoint and has difficulty understanding someone else's viewpoint and other perspectives.
What is Conservation?
the principle (which Piaget believed to be a part of concrete operational reasoning) that properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects
What is the concrete operational stage?
the stage that children can understand size, speed, and causation, as well as being able to take the role of the other and participate in organized games. At this level, children can still not understand nor talk about more complex concepts such as truth, honesty, or justice (7-11 Y.O.)
What is the formal operational stage?
Piaget's fourth and final stage of cognitive development (beginning at about age 12), during which the individual can think hypothetically, can consider future possibilites, and can use deductive logic
Criticism of Piaget's theory of cognitive development
Problems With Research Methods

Much of the criticism of Piaget's work is in regards to his research methods. A major source of inspiration for the theory was Piaget's observations of his own three children. In addition to this, the other children in Piaget's small research sample were all from well-educated professionals of high socio-economic status. Because of this unrepresentative sample, it is difficult to generalize his findings to a larger population.

Problems With Formal Operations

Research has disputed Piaget's argument that all children will automatically move to the next stage of development as they mature. Some data suggests that environmental factors may play a role in the development of formal operations.
Underestimates Children's Abilities

Most researchers agree that children posses many of the abilities at an earlier age than Piaget suspected. Recent research on theory of mind has found that children of 4- or 5-years old have a rather sophisticated understanding of their own mental processes as well as those of other people. For example, children of this age have some ability to take the perspective of another person, meaning they are far less egocentric than Piaget believed.
Piaget's Legacy:
Applying Piaget's theory to education
1. Readiness: The concept of readiness relates to the limits set on learning by a child's current stage of development. (child centered approach)

2. Curriculum: His impact of science and maths on the curriculum.

3. Teaching methods: Teachers must recognize that each child needs to construct knowledge for itself. (children learn from actions rather than passive observation (active self discovery, discovery learning)
Vygotsky didn't produce a fully formed theory or coherent body of research, and many of his ideas were spelled out in detail.
What do Vygotsky and Piaget agree on?
Vigotsky and Piaget agree that knowledge is constructed as a result of the childs active interaction with the environment. But, as we've seen, for Piaget that environment is essentially asocial.
What is the key centering point around Vygotsky's theory?
Cognitive development is a thoroughly social process (hense, he's a constructivist) His aim was to spell out and explain how the higher mental functions (reasoning, understanding, remembering, planning) arise out of childrens social experiences. He did this by considering human development in three levels: the cultural, interpersonal and individual
Vygotsky considered human development in which three levels?
Cultural, interpersonal and individual
Cultural (human development) level:
Children don't need to 'reinvent the world anew' (as Piaget believed). They can benefit from the accumulated wisdom of previous generations; indeed they cannot avoid so through interactions with caregivers, so each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one, taking over the particular culture- including its intellectual, material, scientific and artistic achievements (this all develope further before it is handed on in turn to the next generation)
Interpersonal Level
Its here that culture and the individual meet, and its the level at which vygotsky made his major contribution.
Acceptance/adoption of beliefs, values etc. as one's own. For example, superego is adopted from the standards and values of parents.
temporary support that is tailored to a learner's needs and abilities and aimed at helping the learner master the next task in a given learning process
The zone of proximal development
The DISTANCE between children's developmental level as determined by their ability to solve problems alone, and what they are capable of when solving problems with assistance from more SKILLED parents