Applications of cognitive development to education

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Application of Piaget's theory

Readiness - as congitive development depends on biological maturity Piaget said you cannot make a child leanr before they are ready. activities must be age appropriate

Stages of Development - learning should match the stages, e.g. in concrete learning given an abacus to develop maths skills

Motivation to learn - cognitive growth comes from the desire to resolve disequillibrium. therefore the teacher should ask questions so the child can develop through discovery learning

Logical thinking - logical thinking isnt innate and therefore needs to be taught, eg matha science etc

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Evaluation of Piaget application

Readiness - Bryant et al (1971) showed when pre-operational children practised solving simple problems and gradually builtit up they could cope. therefore suggesting practise rather than readiness matters.

Danner and Day (1977) tutored students aged 10 and 13 on three formal operational takss and showed no improvement. 17 year olds performance did improve. suggests bioological matuation is imprtant as even if practise improves performance tey may not have actually understood the knowledge.

Limitations - Modgil et al (1983) suggests that there isnt enough practise in piagetian learning as it implies the child will learn themselves. culture bias as suggests child is individualist.

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Application of Vygotsky's theory

Collaborative learning - students of variour performance levels work together in small groups towards a common goal. the students are respoinsible for others and their own learning, by bringing together different percpectives they can generate a solution through shared understanding.

Peer tutoring - by a MKO who has better understanding of a task or concept. this could be a teacher/parent or could be the childs peer.

Scaffolding - a process that enables a novice to solve a problem, carry out a task, or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts. (Wood et al 1976). the expert creates a scaffold which is gradually withdrwan as the child becomes able to work independantly.

The motivation to learn - a learner is encouaged to move through their ZPD by MKOs who encourage them to tackle increasingly difficult tasks, take control when necassary, and handing over resposibility at the right time.

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Evaluation of Vygotsky application

Collaborative learning - Gokhale (1995) found that students who participated in collaborative learning performed better in an individual critical-thinking task than those who learned individually. 

Studies have also found that acting as a tutor can help increase understanding. However, these peer tutoring sessions are often in addition to normal lessons, and therefore it could be just the extra hours which improve learening (Salvin 1991).

Maximising the value of scaffolding - Wood and Middleton (1975) watched mothers and their 3-4 year old children assembling a 3D pyramid puzzle and found it worked best when they responded either more or less exprlicitly to the childs performance. 'contingent regulations'. shows teaching needs to respond acording to the learners responses.

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Overall evaluation

Culture bias - could be affected by the researchers own backgrounds., e.g. individualist societies are likely to use Piaget's theory.

Assessing teaching methods - can be hard to select a suitable measurement to measure understanding. also 2 teachers may use the same theory but have significant differences in practice. 

Discovery learning - both studies have had major effects on the education i the Uk. 

Comparison - Bennett (1976) found in general those taught with Piagets theory did better in maths, reading and english. however this may be due to them focusing on core subjects in a formal environment and therefore performed better in these areas. teachers also need more training and understanding to use vygotskys theory and therefore it may be the application not the theory itself that is the problem.

Emotion - both theories ignore emotion, SEAL has been introduced into UK schools to balance this.

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