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Piaget's Theory of Cognitive
Development…read more

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Piaget proposed that intelligence develops as we adapt to meet the needs of our
environment. Successful adaption is evidence of intelligent behaviour. For him,
intelligence is not quantifiable ­ but a process of adaption.
Early Work
· Piaget found when he was working with children and asking them questions,
that they often gave the same kind of wrong answer. He conducted extensive
investigations and concluded that children were trying to make sense of the
world. This is why he called them little scientists.
· Children's knowledge is structured in a different way than adults. It changes
from infancy to adulthood in a similar way for everyone. Due to maturation,
there are changes in understanding, therefore they are determined biologically,
however, via interaction with the world intelligence develops. Because of this,
Piaget proposed that children's thinking develops in four stages which include
the Sensorimotor Stage, Pre-Operational Stage, Concrete Stage and Formal
Operational Stage.…read more

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Sensorimotor Stage (0-2yrs)...
The baby explores using its senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, sound) with its body
movements. Initially movements are reflexes e.g. grasping or sucking reflex which
forms the basis of this interaction.
For example, a baby watches a moving object, reaches out towards it and after a lot of
attempts it grabs the object. A few weeks later the baby brings the object towards its
mouth and explores it via smell and taste.
These skills develop and become more complex.
Object Permanence
Object permanence is a major characteristic of this stage which is the awareness that an
object still exists even though it is not visible.
For example, Piaget shook a rattle in front of a three month old child which interested
the baby, it reached out for the rattle. However when he placed a cloth over it, the
baby was no longer interested. He repeated this with an eight month old, and when
the cloth was placed over the rattle, the child showed distress at its disappearance.…read more

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Slide 6

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Pre-operational Stage (2-7 yrs)...
By this age, the child begins to use symbols, signs and objects to represent things
which is more commonly known as symbolic thinking. For example, language
is evidence of symbolic thinking ­ the word table `stands for' an actual table.
A characteristic of this stage is animism where a child thinks that an inanimate
object has feelings.
Another characteristic of this stage is egocentrism, which is seeing the world from
one's own perspective, understanding the world as an extension of oneself.
When playing hide and seek a three year old may think that because they can'
t see you, you can't see them.
Piaget conducted the `three mountains task'. A doll was then placed at different
points on the table and the child was then shown photographs of the
mountains taken at different points and was asked to identify the doll's view.
Four to five year olds thought the doll's view was the same as theirs but most
seven year olds identified the correct view…read more

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A colourful set of slides which summarise Piaget's famous theory of cognitive development.  This resource would be helpful for A2 students who are studying under AQA as well as all boards of GCSE.

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