Educational application of theories of cognitive development

Discuss the application of two or more theories of cognitive development to education (8 + 24 marks)

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Lucy Warnes
TOTAL ­ 633
Outline ­ 192
Evaluate ­ 441
Discuss the applicationof one or more theories of cognitive developmentto education
(8 + 16 marks)
According to Piaget, we cannot teach a child to perform certain activities before they're
biologically ready. This concept of readiness has led to the belief that educational programmes
should be designed along the lines of Piaget's stages of development. Piaget also suggested that
cognitive growth comes from the desire to resolve the disequilibrium caused by cognitive conflict,
thus it is the teachers task to create an environment where the learner is challenged to
accommodate. Piaget also argued that logical thinking is the spur to cognitive development,
making it important to have maths and sciences subjects on the curriculum. Outline ­ 98
The notion of readiness implies that practice on a task should not lead to improved performance
until a child is sufficiently mature. However, Bryant and Trabasso provided evidence that
suggested pre-operational children could be trained to solve certain logical tests, contradicting
Piaget's theory of cognitive development. In contrast, Danner and Day found that practice made
no difference when they tutored students, aged 10 ­ 13, on three formal operational tasks.
Evaluate - 69
Many critics feel that Piagetian discovery activities are often at the expense of content knowledge
and may lead to backwardness in reading and writing because they spent too little time practicing
these skills (Modgil et al.) Overall, Piaget's theory suggests that the child is the sole agent of his
learning, which is an individualist approach, thus cultural differences may exist. Evaluate - 60
Vygotsky agreed with Piaget that children must construct understanding and knowledge in their
own minds, but he also placed greater emphasis on how this process is facilitated by collaboration
with others. Collaborative learning refers to a method of learning whereby students at various
performance levels work together in small groups. Peer tutoring and the more knowledgeable
other (MKO) refers to someone who has a better understanding. Wood et al. introduced the term
scaffolding to describe the Vygotskian process of assisting a learner through the ZPD, and stated
that it provides the motivation to learn. Outline ­ 94
Gokhale found that students who participated in collaborative learning subsequently performed
better on an individual critical-thinking test than students who studied individually. Similarly, there
are many studies that have shown that peer tutoring leads to improvements in both tutees' and
tutors' academic and social development (Cohen et al.), though most effective for peer tutors
(Cloward). Despite these findings, caution should be taken with these studies as experimental
groups are often receive peer tutoring in addition to normal lessons, and having extra lessons may
be the greater reason for success (Slavin). Evaluate ­ 90
Wood and Middleton found that successful scaffolding depends on something called contingent
regulations. They watched mothers and their three-to-four-year-old children assembling a 3D
pyramid puzzle, a task that was beyond the children's current abilities. They found that the task
mastery was related to contingent regulations, thus a mother responded to her child's failure by
providing more explicit instructions and responded to success by providing less explicit

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Lucy Warnes
instructions. This shows that the teaching from MKO's needs to respond differentially to a learners
responses to enhance learning success. Evaluate ­ 86
A criticism of both Piaget and Vygotsky is in reference to their personal cultural differences. This
can be deemed a problem because such differences may lead to a cultural bias because we
assume that they apply all cultures but this may not be the case.…read more


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