Introduction to Development - Piaget and Vygotsky
Both Piaget and Vygotsky believed that development is a result of a child’s interaction with the environment. Piaget believed the key to cognitive development was the opportunity to explore and test our existing understandings. As children experience the world around them they try to make sense of it and develop schemes that are mental patterns that guide behavior. When a scheme doesn’t make sense, or provides an inadequate explanation of the environment, a child adjusts schemes through the process of adaptation.
Assimilation is the process of adding new information to an existing scheme, which results in modification of the scheme. For example, infants have a banging scheme and routinely can be found banging objects on a high chair or table. The child bangs a rattle on the table and everything seems to be working fine. However, perhaps a child bangs an egg on the table and the banging scheme no longer works well as the egg breaks and the slimy material runs down the child’s arm and the table leg. Soon the baby will learn that not all objects fit into the banging scheme and they learn to adapt their schemes through the process of accommodation, or the modification of a scheme to incorporate new information.
Piaget's theory of development represents constructivism, a view of cognitive development as a process in which children actively build systems of meaning and understandings of reality through their experiences and interactions. In this view, children actively construct knowledge by continually assimilating and accommodating new information.
Piaget divided the cognitive development of children and adolescents into four stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. He believed that all children pass through these stages in this order and that no child can skip a stage, although different children pass through the stages at somewhat different rates.
Some examples that assess developmental differences in children’s thinking Interpretation Of Stories Read children Aesop’s Fables and ask, “What do you think this story means?”
Preoperational: Response will likely mention something that happened in their own life. They will probably explain or justify their answer. Concrete operational: Response is based on the literal content of the story. Formal operational: Response goes beyond the literal content of the story and indicates some understanding of the meaning of the moral.
Classification Give children the following objects and ask them to group things that go together. (Objects: a magazine picture, marker chalk, notebook paper, typing paper, thumb tack, straight pin, tape, and a paper sack)
Early operational: Grouping is based on some perceptual feature - color, shape, etc. The paper and chalk may be grouped because they are both white. Late preoperational: Grouping is based on a functional relationship. Pencil and paper may be grouped because you write on the paper with a pencil. The tack and the picture, because you use the tack to put the picture on the wall. Concrete operational: Grouping is based on a common element. For example, a group may include things made of paper, things you can write with, or things you can use to put things on a bulletin board.
Conservation: Line two sets of wooden beads side by side. Ask the children, “Does each set have the same amount or does one set have more?” If they answer “same,” then spread out one set and ask again. Return them to their original position, but bunch up one set. Then ask again. Create two equal balls of clay. Ask children, “Do the balls have the same amount of clay or does one have more?” Make a “snake” or a “pancake” out of one ball and ask again.
Preoperational: Responds that one set has more than the other when changes are made. Concrete operational: Responds that each set has the same amount and explains the answer by counting, 1:1 correspondence, or reversibility as rationale.
Combination Logic Give the children five different one-digit numbers on separate small pieces of paper. Ask them to make as many different 3-digit numbers as they can.
Concrete operational: Task is approached in a random, haphazard manner. Formal operational: Task is approached in an orderly and systematic way.