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Lecture 4

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Child and Youth Studies
Anthony Volk

CHYS 2P10 Child Development Lecture 4 – Cognitive Development Dr. Tony Volk [email protected] Course Business • Midterm is in TWO weeks • Lab debates begin this week Cognitive Development • Cognitive development is the development of thought • Generally limited Jean Piaget • Born in 1896 in Neuchatel, Switzerland • Son of a historian (medieval literature) • He had a relatively turbulent to non-emotional, social, etc. dimensions of thought family life that drew him towards psychoanalysis (or at least, psychology) • His first publication was at age 10! • Offered a job in a natural history museum even before he graduated high school • Continued studying biology (mollusks) for his PhD • After, he left the field and studied psychology and philosophy at the Sorbonne for 2 years • There, he met Theodore Simon, who worked on Binet’s intelligence tests (IQ) • This was at last his great interest- how children’s thought developed • Used it as a means of understanding the origins of human thought, soon changed to just understanding children’s development of thought Ontogeny-Phylogeny Piaget and His Family Structures (Schemes) • Structures are unobservable mental systems that underlie intelligence • They are what change with development • Children are motivated to learn by a need to satisfy their curiosity • Discovery is the best way to learn • Children build their own representations of reality; these change with child’s (st)age Processes of Development • Adaptation to new information & mental reorganization are the driving forces behind cognitive development • Broadly evolutionary idea, but more like development and embryonic development Assimilation • Assimilation - is the incorporation of new information into existing schemas as well as the active representation of new stimuli • Accommodation - is the rearranging of previous ideas so that they incorporate the new information • Equilibration - the organizations attempt to keep schemas in balance with new information • Organization – the new information must be organized in a logical fashion that builds upon, and co-exists with, current knowledge Summary of Development • New information causes disequilibrium, motivating the child to restore equilibrium by assimilating the information, and then accommodating existing information to fit the new information leading to a new organization of thought within the child Stages of Development • Sequential (must occur in order), required (for functioning at that level), universal (occur in all children) • Sensorimotor • Preoperational • Concrete Operational • Formal Operational Sensorimotor Stage • Birth to 2 years, focus is on learning the environment and how to interact with it • There are six substages • Substage 1: Birth to 1 month; reflexes are the original innate schemes, infant uses reflexes to begin to understand the world • Substage 2: 1-4 months; new behaviors built around reflexes, “primary circular reactions”, beginnings of intent • Substage 3: 4-8 months; new behaviors grow out of primary, reflexive behaviors - called secondary circular reactions; Object Permanence • Substage 4: 8-12 months; coordination of secondary circular reactions - one c.r. can lead to another c.r., beginning of goal-directed behavior; A not B error • Substage 5: 12-18 months; the child can make changes to circular reactions in order to achieve a goal, tertiary circular reactions; can solve A not B errors • Substage 6: 18-24 months; the beginning of symbolic thought, the child can invent new meanings through mental combinations; Deferred Imitation Replication of Sensorimotor Stage • Uzgiris and Hunt performed standardized Piagetian tasks, improved inter-rater reliability, and confirmed Piagetian sequence of events • However, other more recent researchers, using different methods, have found that infants are more competent than suggested by Piaget Preoperational Stage • Age 2 – 7 • Operations are mental and symbolic, derive from action, and exist in an organized system that is based on rules; they are reversible • Preoperational stage is marked by the emergence of language and symbolism, but also by the use of perception rather than higher thought or logic Lack of Conservation • Most famously, children in this stage lack conservation – the knowledge that something stays the same despite perceptual changes • Conservation does not develop equally for all properties • Culture can influence conservation through familiarity with tasks or the way that they are presented to the child Egocentrism • Children in the preoperational stage are also egocentric in assuming everyone else’s thoughts and perceptions are the same as theirs • We know now that this is heavily influenced by Theory of Mind, which develops at around 4 years of age Concrete Operational • Ages 7-12 • Children understand operations, but not the underlying reasons behind them • E.g., that water becomes ice (but not molecular energy states) • Pass tests of conservation and egotism, but tend to fail tests of abstract logic and reasoning Formal Operational • Ages 12+ • Child can now understand and use abstract reasoning and formal logic • Achieving this stage requires Western culture • Not all 12+ yr olds demonstrate formal logic, few do all of the time • Adolescents also display a discounting egocentrism Piaget’s Contributions • Founded field of cognitive development • Equilibration was an attempt to describe mechanisms of development • Introduced new methods & areas of focus • His results have a reasonable degree of accuracy as well as ecological validity • Influence systems of education  Drew attention to child development! Implications for Education • Children should guide their own education • Teaching can incline, but not induce • Teachers should guide children to the truth instead of telling it to them • Encourage child to be a creator or inventor rather than a pupil • Materials and curriculum should be matched to the child’s age/stage Piaget’s Problems • More recent studies have demonstrated that many of his tests tested performance skills, not mental competence • He (severely?) overestimated adult performance • Many other developmental mechanisms are thought to exist (including teaching!) • Concept of homogenous stages does not appear to apply in most (all?) cases Lev Vygotsky • Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who wrote about child development in the 1920’s and 30’s • Communism prevented a widesp
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