Infant Cognitive Development Essays

Elizabeth Pickford Children’s Cognitive Development and Learning Describe how Piagetian and Vygotskian principles are involved in the scenario. In the scenario, the teacher Ann incorporates a variety of Piagetian and Vygotskian principles into her methods and approaches to teaching her Year 5 class. Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky are theorists who have had a profound influence in the area of children’s cognitive development, which is concerned with the progression of mental processes involved in thinking, reasoning and remembering information (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). Although Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories differ, some of their ideas of the cognitive development and learning of children overlap. By incorporating both Piagetian and Vygotskian principles into teaching strategies, an educator can maximize the learning and achievements of students. According to Berk (2003), Piaget believed that the cognitive development of children is a procession of four stages from birth to adulthood. He considered these stages as universal and orderly, and he identified each one by key achievements that the child could attain (Krause, al.2013). However, some researchers are critical of Piaget’s theory and argue that there is variability in a child’s development (Krause, al 2013). In the scenario, Ann’s year 5 class would fit under Piaget’s concrete-operations period, which typically occurs around seven to eleven years of age. At this stage, Piaget claims that a child is capable of thinking logically and can mentally manipulate objects (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). Piaget does acknowledge however that children do not necessarily progress through the stages at the same rate, and so some of students in Ann’s class may fit under the formal-operations period. This is Piaget’s final cognitive stage in which the individual is able to think hypothetically and in abstractions (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). By using Piaget’s stage-based theory Ann was able to align her teaching strategies with her students’ current level of understanding, rather than their age. This would help the children make linkages between new and old information (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). Ann uses Piaget’s idea of direct instruction at the beginning of the lesson to model what she wants her students to do, thereby helping them to be able to work through their assigned task. She then uses outdoor classroom experiences to study nature as part of the science curriculum she teaches within the classroom, providing her students with frequent opportunities to 1 Elizabeth Pickford perform experiments and test their ideas - as demonstrated by one group who explored a nature trail to find different seed types. This shows that the children are able to apply logical reasoning to problem-solving tasks and can use Piaget’s principle of classification to mentally group seeds in terms of similar characteristics (Wadsworth, B.J. 1996). In addition, Ann’s use of the outdoor classroom reflects Piaget’s personal constructivist approach to learning, in which the child acts as a ‘miniature scientist’ (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013) and creates their own knowledge of the world through physical and mental activity (Piaget, J. 1976). By taking into consideration the cognitive level of the students and the using the outdoor classroom, Ann has effectively enabled her students to expand their thinking skills through direct experience. On the contrary, Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory is based on the idea that knowledge is developed collaboratively within the child’s social, cultural and historical context (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). In the scenario, Ann noticed that some of the students would use the information she taught them in class to explore their natural surroundings - looking for small animals or helping with the gardens. This relates to Vygotsky’s principal of internalization, which is idea that a child’s development arises from social interaction, and that as an individual’s language skills increase they are able to internalize the external processes they observe (Vialle, W.; Lysaght, P.; Verenikina, I. 2005). According to Vygotsky, this would enable intellectual function for problem solving and self-regulation. The quality of the relationship between an adult and child is crucial in learning and development, as Vygotsky claimed that adults can help develop a child’s thinking and behavior in ways that are particular to their social and cultural context (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). In this instance, Ann’s assistance in writing skills helped her students process their learning and make sense of the information they gathered, as they used their experiences outdoors as the basis of their writing. Another Piagetian principle Ann employs is the process of equilibration. Equilibration is a cognitive balance that enables an individual to organize their ideas and adapt to a new situation in their environment. According to Piaget, when an individual experiences a mismatch between what they know about a concept and new information the process of assimilation modifies a child’s mental representations (schemes), or through accommodation new information’s is used to form a new scheme (Krause, K.L. et al. 2013). This occurs when Ann presents her students with problem-solving tasks such as recording the rainfall data. She then helps her students to resolve the task by providing them with materials such as the rain 2 Elizabeth Pickford gauge. By incorporating Piaget’s principal of equilibration, Ann enables her students to develop logical and analytical thinking skills. Ann utilizes both Vygotskian and Piagetian principles when putting her students into allotted groups to study a particular topic. Vygotsky believed that social interaction plays a major role in the cognitive development of children, especially the collaboration between peers at different levels of cognitive development to enable knowledge to be shared and solutions to be solved. This refers to Vygotsky’s principal of the zone of proximal development, which involves the distance between a child’s ability to complete a task independently and their potential level of ability to complete a task with the support and guidance from more knowledgeable members of society (Gauvain, M.; Cole, M. 1997). Similarly, Piaget argued that social interaction enables a child to expand their ideas, develop morality, and achieve shared solutions (Krause, K.L et al. 2013). This may result in socio-cognitive development, in which children may challenge their current assumptions in discussions with their peers. Therefore, by putting students into groups Ann enabled the more advanced children in the Year 5 class to challenge and assist in the thinking of their peers at lower levels of cognitive thinking to stimulate cognitive development. During recess, Ann observed the children’s behavior and noted that most of the students played. This shows that she has taken into consideration both Piaget and Vygotsky’s emphasize on the need to observe children, as well as the importance of play in development. Piaget considered play as a way to enable an individual to explore unknown areas, thereby stimulating equilibrium and contributing to their cognitive development (Vialle, W.; Lysaght, P.; Verenikina, I. 2005). In comparison, Vygotsky believed that play assisted in the development of abstract thinking (Vialle, W.; Lysaght, P.; Verenikina, I. 2005). That being so, through combining Piagetian and Vygotskian principles of play Ann was able to assist in her student’s development. By incorporating Piagetian and Vygotskian principles in the classroom, teachers and students can benefit in several ways. Using Piaget’s stage-based theory and Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, teachers are able to match their strategies and methods of teaching with a child’s current level of understanding. Both theorists agree that social interaction assists in cognitive development, as well as guidance from more advanced thinkers. Piaget’s focus on personal constructivism can be applied through providing opportunities to explore, 3 Elizabeth Pickford such as in play or outdoor classroom activities, which Vygotsky believes can assist in abstract thinking. Therefore, principles from both theorists can be used by educators to maximize their students’ learning and cognitive development. 4 Elizabeth Pickford Bibliography Berk, L. (2003) Child Development. Boston: Allyn & Bacon Krause, K.L., Bochner, S. & Duchesne, S. (2013) Educational Psychology for learning and teaching. South Melbourne: Thomson Labinowicz, E. (1980) The Piaget Primer. Thinking, Learning, Teaching. pp. 19-21. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Piaget, J. Piaget’s Theory. Inhelder, B., & Chipman, H.H. (Eds). (1976) Piaget and His School: A Reader in Developmental Psychology. New York: Springer-Verlag. Vialle, W., Lysaght, P., Verenikina, I. (2005) “The Socio-Cultural view: Vygotsky” in Psychology for Educators, pp. 45-74 Vygotsky, Lev S. “Interaction Between Learning and Development” in Readings on the Development of Children, Gauvain, M. & Cole, M. (1997) pp. 29 - 36 Wadsworth, B.J. (1996) “The Development of Formal Operations” in Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive and Affective Development: Foundations of Constructivism. pp. 111-117 5


Cognitive Development In Infants Essay

This paper is going to carry out a literature review on cognitive development in infants. The paper will review cognitive development in infants at different stages. Effects of early experience on mental development in infants will also be discussed. The research question and the hypothesis of the research will also be given.
Keywords: infants, development, experience

Cognitive Development in Infants
Advancement made in regard to cognitive neuroscience has enabled a better understanding of the cognitive processes in infants. Studies have indicated that cognitive development in infants starts before they are born. In the eighth week of pregnancy, fetuses have the ability to hear. They become accustomed to their mothers’ voice and voices of close family members, fetuses also have the ability of listening to music. After they are born, millions of neurons interconnect in their brain, which enable them to think and learn. Scientists have established that experiences of infants in terms of touch, sight and perception in the first years of their existence, has the potential of affecting their brain development in the later years (Goswami, 1993, p. 157). This literature review is going to examine cognitive development in infants and how early experiences affects cognitive development.
Cognitive Development in Infants
Cognitive development is a term used to refer to the process through which infants or children develop language, thinks, gain knowledge, and solve problems. For example, when infants identify colors or differentiate things, they are performing cognitive tasks. Infants normally learn through interactions with objects and people, in addition to their senses. When infants interact with their world and grow, they undergo various stages of cognitive development. The first stage of cognitive development in infants is the sensorimotor stage. This stage lasts from birth to twelve months. In this stage, infants gain knowledge about their surrounding by using their senses. (Clarke-Stewart, Gruber, & Fitzgerald, 2007, p. 154). They recognize the faces of their caregivers and may respond to smiles. At these stage infants are generally attracted to bright colors, and show response to sound by turning towards the direction of the sound. Studies have indicated that infants between the ages of three and seven weeks have the ability to recognize shapes and pictures of human faces (Goswami, 1994, p. 376).
Researchers have also investigated the development of working memory in infants. It has been established that working memory, that is, the ability to retain information in the brain increases with age. Infants aged five to seven months were found to be unable to retain more than three objects in their working memory. Fifty percent of infants aged twelve months had developed the capacity to retain more than three objects in their working memory. Studies have also indicated that at the age of six months, infants have the ability to...

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