Introduction to Development - Piaget and Vygotsky
Piaget’s constructs

Understanding child development according to Piaget requires the mastery of terminology that may be unfamiliar to many students. Piaget used the terminology to describe the cognitive operations of children and how their perspectives and understanding changes as they mature. A child’s view of the world and understanding of the operations below changes as the chil progress from stage to stage.


Terminology

Object Permanence
    When a child realizes that an object out of sight still exists.
Conservation
    Awareness that when an object changes to different shapes, sizes, containers, or forms the basic physical properties of the object remain the same.
Centration
    when a child focuses on only one aspect of an object such as the height, weight or size.
Reversibility
    the ability to perform a mental operation and then reverse the thinking process to the original starting point, such as knowing that having 4 apples and taking two away is the same as having 2 apples and adding 2 more.
Egocentrism
    the belief a child has that everyone sees and experiences the world as they do.
Inferred reality
    to determine the true meaning or form of a situation in spite of a deceiving context. (i.e. knowing that under a car cover exists an actual car).
Literal mindedness
    reasoning which focuses only upon the concrete aspects of description, such as thinking ketchup is blood because it is red.
Seriation
    arranging objects in sequential order according to height, weight, size or volume.
Transitivity
    the ability to mentally arrange objects and make comparisons between those objects.
Class inclusion
    when a child can think simultaneously about a whole class of objects and about relationship of objects to each other in the subordinate class (knowing that all four-legged animals are not dogs).
Animism
    the belief that inanimate objects assume life-like qualities and have feelings.


Examples

Listed below are a number of descriptors that illustrate how a child might demonstrate their thinking according to Piaget’s terminology. See if you can identify the stage of development and the concept before reading the answer.

   1. Katie is asked, “Why are you crying?” She answers, “the mean swing hit me.”
         1. Stage: Pre-operational    b. Example of: Animism


   2. Ray says, “The fly is like both insects and birds. It’s like birds because it flies, and it’s like insects because it has six legs.”
         1. Stage: Concrete Operations  b. Example of: Understanding centration and mastering class inclusion


   3. Tim is working on analogies. He declares, “”Biking is to pedaling as driving a car is to stepping on the gas pedal because both make the vehicle move.
         1. Stage: Formal Operations b. Example of: Abstract reasoning


   4. Judy looks at her flattened piece of dough and then at Sheila’s round ball of dough. She calls to her mother, “you gave Sheila more dough than me!”
         1. Stage: Pre-operational b. Example of: Lack of conservation ability


   5. Willy states, “I see how this nickel and these five pennies are the same as this dime”
         1. Stage: Concrete Operations b. Example of: Reversibility, Transitivity


   6. Maria’s teacher asks, “How can the scale be brought back into balance?” Maria replies, “The only way to do that is to remove the weight that made one pan sink lower than the other.”
         1. Stage: Formal Operations b. Example of: Hypothetical-deductive reasoning


   7. Carlo’s project about the Amazon forest includes an original short story about Amazonia 2020, the land and it's people’s lives after the total destruction of the forest.
         1. Stage: Formal Operations b. Example of: Abstract thinking


   8. His teacher asks David to sort the colored geometric shapes by color and by shape. He gets the colors sorted out into red, blue, and yellow. He then needs help with separating the color groups into smaller piles of different shapes.
         1. Stage: Pre-operational b. Example of: Centration



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