Jean Piaget

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“Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do.” Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory EDUC 1A Facilitating Learning


Who is Jean Piaget? A Biographical Summary


Jean Piaget


Basic Cognitive Concepts


Schema the cognitive structure by which individuals intellectually adapt to and organize their environment


Assimilation the process of fitting new experience into an existing created schema


Accommodation the process of creating a new schema


Equilibration achieving proper balance between assimilation and accommodation.


Stages of Cognitive Development


1. Sensorimotor (birth to 2 years)

Object Permanence:

Object Permanence – ability attained in this stage where he knows that an object still exists even when out of sight


2. Preoperational Stage ( 2 to 7 years)

Symbolic Function:

Symbolic Function – the ability to represent objects and events


Egocentrism – the tendency of a child to only see his point of view and assume that everyone else also has his same point of view


Centration – the tendency of the child to only focus on one thing or event and exclude other aspects

Lack of Conservation:

Lack of Conservation – the inability to realize that some things remain unchanged despite looking different


Irreversibility – Pre-operational children still have the inability to reverse their thinking. 3+2=5 but not 5-3=2


Animism – the tendency of the child to attribute human like traits to inanimate objects.


Realism – believing that psychological events, such as dreams, are real

Transductive reasoning:

Transductive reasoning – reasoning that is neither inductive nor deductive, reasoning that appears to be from particular to particular.

Teaching a Preoperational Child:

Teaching a Preoperational Child


Principle Application Use concrete and visual aids to illustrate lessons and help children understand what is being presented. Use physical illustrations Use drawings and illustrations.


Principle Application Make instructions relatively short, using actions as well as words, to lessen likelihood that the learners will get confused. After giving instructions, ask a learner to demonstrate them as a model for the rest of the class. Explain a game by acting out the part of a participant


Principle Application Do not expect the students to find it easy to see the world from someone else’s perspective since they are likely to be very egocentric at this point. Avoid lessons about worlds too far from the child’s own experience. Discuss sharing from the child’s own experience.


Principle Application Give children a great deal of physical practice with the facts and skills that will serve as building blocks for later development. Use cut out letters to build words Avoid overuse of workbooks and other paper-and-pencil tasks.


Principle Application Encourage the manipulation of physical objects that can change in shape while retaining a constant mass, giving the learners a chance to move toward understanding of conservation and two-way logic needed in the next stage. Provide opportunities to play with clay, water, or sand. Engage learners in conversations about the changes the students are experiencing when manipulating objects.


Principle Application Provide many opportunities to experience the world in order to build a foundation for concept learning and language Take field trips. Use and teach words to describe what they are seeing, doing, touching, tasting, etc. Discuss what they are seeing on TV.


3. Concrete Operational Stage (7 to 11 years).


Decentering – the ability of the child to perceive the different features of objects and situations


Reversibility – the ability of the child to follow that certain operations can be done in reverse. 8 + 5 = 13, therefore, 5+8 = 13


Conservation – the ability to know that certain properties of objects like number, mass, volume or area do not change even if there is a change in appearance.


Seriation – the ability to arrange things in a series based on one dimension such as weight, volume, size, etc.

Teaching the Concrete Operational Child:

Teaching the Concrete Operational Child


Principle Application Continue to use concrete props and visual aids, especially when dealing with sophisticated material. Provide timelines for history lessons. Provide three-dimensional models in science. Demonstrate simple scientific experiments in which the students can participate


Principle Application Continue to give students a chance to manipulate objects and test out their ideas. Show craftwork to illustrate daily occupations of people of an earlier period.


Principle Application Make sure that lectures and readings are brief and well organized. Use materials that present a progression of ideas from step to step. Have students read short stories or books with short, logical chapters, moving to longer reading assignments only when the students are ready.


Principle Application Ask students to deal with no more than 3 or 4 variables at a time Require readings with a limited number of characters. Demonstrate experiments with a limited number of steps.


Principle Application Use familiar examples to help explain more complex ideas so students will have a beginning point for assimilating new information. Compare students’ own lives with those of the characters in a story. Use story problems in mathematics.


Principle Application Give opportunities to classify and group objects and ideas on increasingly complex levels. Give students separate sentences on slips of paper to be grouped into paragraphs. Use outlines, hierarchies, and analogies to show the relationship of unknown material to already acquired knowledge.


Principle Application Present problems which require logical, analytical thinking to solve. Provide materials such as Mind Twisters, Brain teasers, and riddles. Focus discussions on open-ended questions which stimulate thinking.

Hypothetical Reasoning:

Hypothetical Reasoning – ability to come up with different hypothesis about a problem and weigh data to make judgement.

Analogical reasoning:

Analogical reasoning – ability to perceive the relationship in one instance and use that relationship to narrow down possible answers in similar problems.

Analogical reasoning:

Analogical reasoning

Deductive reasoning:

Deductive reasoning – ability to think logically by applying a general rule to a particular situation.

Teaching Students Beginning to Use Formal Operations:

Teaching Students Beginning to Use Formal Operations


Principle Application Continue to use many of the teaching materials appropriate for students at the concrete operational stage. Use visual aids such as charts and illustrations, as well a simple but somewhat more sophisticated graphs and diagrams. Use well-organized materials that offer step-by-step explanations.


Principle Application Give students an opportunity to explore many hypothetical questions Provide students opportunities to discuss social issues. Provide consideration of hypothetical “other worlds”.


Principle Application Encourage students to explain how they solve problems. Make sure that at least some of the tests you give ask for more than rote memory or one final answer; essay questions, for example, might ask students to justify two different positions on an issue.


Principle Application Whenever possible, teach broad concepts, not just facts, using materials and ideas relevant to the students Use lyrics from popular music to teach poetic devices, to reflect social problems, and so on.


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