Learning Theories Paper
By Lydia Georgieva
- Overview: Piaget’s Stage Theory of Cognitive Development describes cognitive development as passing through four main stages in children: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete and formal.
- It seems to me that the major epistemological belief system on which the theory is founded upon is the Kant’s theory of rationalism and empiricism. According to Kant, knowledge results from the organization of perceptual data on the basis of inborn cognitive structures, called categories’ and including space, time, objects and causality.
- Piaget calls these basic structures ‘schema’, the basic building block of intelligent behavior- a way of organizing knowledge. A schema can be defined as a set of linked mental representations of the world, which we use both to understand and to respond to situations. The assumption is that we store these mental representations and apply them when needed.
- Contributors: Piaget
- Major Principles: Based on observation Piaget developed a four-stage model of how the mind processes new information encountered. The four stages he determined are:
- Sensorimotor stage (from birth to 2 years old): At this stage infants build an understanding of themselves and reality through interactions with the environment. Infants are able to differentiate between themselves and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (organizing information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object can not be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object).
- Preoperational stage (ages 2-4). The child can still only process concrete physical situations and objects are classified in simple ways, especially by important features.
- Concrete operations (ages 7 to 11). Accommodation increases as physical experience accumulates and the child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences.
- Formal operations (beginning at ages 11 to 15). Cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. He or she is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning. His or her ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult.
- Application: This theory is translated into classroom instruction in the following way: in the primary school curriculum children learn more through exploring and hands-on activities. This relates to the cognitive stage at which children of this age group are. Learning and teaching should be student centered and the role of teacher is to facilitate learning.
- A review of primary education in UK in 1966 was based on Piaget’s theory, Plowden report (1967): 'The report's recurring themes are individual learning, flexibility in the curriculum, the centrality of play in children's learning, the use of the environment, learning by discovery and the importance of the evaluation of children's progress - teachers should 'not assume that only what is measurable is valuable.'
- In high school the classroom instruction changes to more inquiry-based learning instruction as students have reached the stage when they can make own judgements and have developed the ability of abstract thinking.
- McLeod, S. A. (2009). Jean Piaget | Cognitive Theory - Simply Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html