cognition and development revision

includes piaget, vygotsky and all then rest

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Nigel Holt and Rob Lewis
Crown House Publishing Limited
P s y c h o l og y
the study
Extract from A2 Psychology: the study guide © Nigel Holt and Rob Lewis ISBN: 9781845901011

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A2 PSYCHOLOGY: THE study guide
Cognition and development
You are expected in the examination to show both the skills of knowledge and understanding and the
skills of analysis and evaluation in relation to the topic Cognition and development.
Where opportunities for their effective use arise, you will need to demonstrate an appreciation of
issues and debates. These include the nature/nurture debate, ethical issues in research, free-will/
determinism, reductionism, gender and culture bias, and the use of animals in research.…read more

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Development of thinking | 3
The specification requires you to know all
three theories of cognitive development out-
Section 1: Development of thinking lined in the next few pages. You can't pick and
choose: learn all three. Questions could ask you
for more than two theories, so you are not simply
Theories of cognitive development (1):
`taking a gamble' if you do only one or two!
Piaget's theory
There is a difference in the quality of thinking between
adults and children.…read more

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A2 PSYCHOLOGY: THE study guide
Evaluation of Piaget's theory
1. Egocentrism (Piaget and Inhelder, 1952)
The researchers asked children what the doll is
able to see when positioned at different places on
the model mountains (ie taking the point of view
of the doll).
They found that children in the preoperational
stage had difficulty with this task, and concluded
that these children were exhibiting egocentrism,
The three mountains apparatus. supporting the theory.
2.…read more

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Development of thinking | 5
4. Further evaluation of Piaget's theory
»» Dasen (1994) ­ We do not necessarily move through all the stages, estimating that only 1 in 3
adults ever reach formal operations. This figure applies only to Western industrialised nations:
elsewhere it is lower, suggesting a cultural bias in the theory.
»» Matsumoto and Hull (1994) ­ Piaget's work was sample and culture-biased (ethnocentric). Much
of his research was done with his own children and with those from wealthy Western cultures.…read more

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A2 PSYCHOLOGY: THE study guide
Applying Piaget's theory to Education
Stage specific instruction ­ readiness
»» We should only teach children Burns and Silbey (2000) ­ Support stage-
material that they are able or ready specific instruction: children learn best when
to learn, and this depends on the activities match their stage of development.
stage of cognitive development Brainerd (1983) ­ Piaget underestimated the
they are in. readiness of children to learn.…read more

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Development of thinking | 7
Theories of cognitive development (2): Vygotsky's theory
Vygotsky's stage theory is often referred to as sociocultural, since he says that it is cultural knowledge which
prescribes what children learn. Social activity is key to developing natural abilities available from birth.
The role of language in development
Stage Explanation Since language is our means
of communicating cultural
Pre-intellectual Before 2, language and thinking are completely knowledge, it is extremely
speech separate. Learning is through conditioning. Speech
important in this theory.…read more

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A2 PSYCHOLOGY: THE study guide
Evaluation of Vygotsky's theory
1. Individual differences
Group working may be beneficial to some, but not all:
Blaye et al (1991) ­ Using a task where children worked alone or in pairs on a problem-solving
task they found great variation in whether pair or group working was most appropriate, with at
least 30% of those working alone performing just as well as those in groups.…read more

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Development of thinking | 9
(a) Describe Vygotsky's theory of cognitive
development. (9 marks)
Applying Vygotsky's theory to education (b) Consider the application of Vygotsky's
theory to education. (16 marks)
Group working
»» Gokhale (1995) ­ Group working is beneficial to the majority of students.
»» Students who worked individually on a task requiring critical thinking
skills following a lecture performed worse than those who worked in
learning is
beneficial evaluation
»» Nichols (1996) ­ Group work encourages and maintains motivation.…read more

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A2 PSYCHOLOGY: THE study guide
Theories of cognitive development (3): Bruner's theory
Like Vygotsky, the role of society is identified as important, as is language, and like Piaget, learning is done
through assimilation and accommodation. Internal motivation is vital in stimulating interest in learning.
Modes of representation
Bruner says that children have three modes of thinking about the world.
Mode Explanation In a volume conservation task like
Enactive mode Acts out and performs physical actions.…read more


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