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Chapter 6

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Western University
Psychology 2410A/B
Sandra Hessels

Cognitive Development Piagetian Core Knowledge and Vygotskian PerspectivesPiagets CognitiveDevelopmental Theory because Piaget viewed children as discovering or constructing virtually all knowledge about their world through their own activity his theory is described as a constructivist approach to cognitive development Basic Characteristics of Piagets Stages the stages provide a general theory of development in which all aspects of cognition change in an integrated fashion following a similar course the stages are invariant they always occur in a fixed order and no stage can be skipped the stages are universal they are assumed to characterize children everywhere Piaget regarded the order of development as rooted in human biology reflecting the brains increasing adeptness at analyzing and interpreting experiences common to most children throughout the world he emphasized that individual differences in genetic and environmental factors affect the speed with which children move through the stages Piagets Ideas About Cognitive Change according to Piaget specific psychological structures called schemesorganized ways of making sense of experiencechange with age first schemes are sensorimotor action patterns soon instead of just acting on objects the toddler shows evidence of thinking before she acts for Piaget this change marks the transition from a sensorimotor approach to the world to a cognitive approach based on mental representationsinternal depictions of information that the mind can manipulate our most powerful mental representations are imagesmental pictures of objects people and spacesand concepts categories in which similar objects or events are grouped together by thinking in concepts and labelling them we become more efficient thinkers organizing our diverse experiences into meaningful manageable and memorable units in Piagets theory two processes account for this change from sensoriotor to representational schemes and for further changes in representaitonal schemes from childhood to adulthood adaptation and organization Adaptationadaptation involves building schemes through direct interaction with the environment it consists of two complementary activities assimilation and accomodation during assimilation we use our current schemes to interpret the external world in accomodation we create new schemes or adjust old ones after noticing that our current way of thinking does not capture the environment completelyAccording to Piaget the balance between assimilation and accomodation varies over time when children are not changing much they assimilate more than they accomodatea steady comfortable state that Piaget called cognitive equilibrium during times of rapid cognitive change children are in a state of disequilibrium or cognitive discomfort realizing that new information does not match their current schemes they move back toward assimilation exercising their newly changed structures until they are ready to be modified again Piagets term for this backandforth movement between equilibrium and disequilibrium is equilibration each time equilibration occurs more effective schemes are produced Organizationa process that occurs internally apart from direct contact with the environment once children form new schemes they rearrange them linking them with other schemes to create a strongly interconnected cognitive system The Sensorimotor Stage Birth to 2 Years the sensorimotor stage spans the first two years of life the circular reaction provides a special means of adapting their first schemes it involves stumbling onto a new experience caused by the babys own motor activity the reaction is circular because as the infant tries to repeat the event again and again a sensorimotor response that originally occurred by chance becomes strengthened into a new scheme the circular reaction initially centres on the infants own body but later turns outward toward manipulation of objects in the second year it becomes experiemental and creative aimed at producing novel effects in the environment this immaturity in inhibition seems to be adaptive helping to ensure that new skills will not be interrupted before they strengthen
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