Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
*see picture
Robert Coles
Arnold Gesell
*see chart
B.F. Skinner
Findings or Ideas
Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve
certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person
seeks to fullfill the next one, and so on. The earliest
and most widespread version of Maslow's hierarchy of
needs includes five motivational needs, often depicted
as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
Coles’ has studied children’s moral development. He
stressed the important role that parents and other
caregivers play by the examples they set. Young
children use close adults as their models for right and
wrong, but as soon as they go off to school other
forces act on their moral controls. As children become
adolescents and adults they find it harder to maintain
a moral hard line and their “cultural literacy” begins to
supersede their “moral literacy.” Coles also feels that
children have a deep spiritual understanding, that
many people are not aware of.
Gesell is a maturationist; his descriptions of
developmental patterns in childhood
emphasize physical and mental growth that
he saw as determined primarily by heredity.
By carefully observing children in his campus
school, Gesell established norms or typical
behaviors of children throughout childhood.
He categorized these typical behaviors into
10 major areas that he called gradients of
growth. Gesell developed basic information
about eh order in which children master
various skills and the typical rate of this
B. F. Skinner’s entire system is based on operant
conditioning. The organism is in the process of
“operating” on the environment, which in
ordinary terms means it is bouncing around its
world, doing what it does. During this
“operating,” the organism encounters a special
kind of stimulus, called a reinforcing stimulus, or
simply a reinforcer. This special stimulus has the
effect of increasing the operant -- that is, the
behavior occurring just before the
reinforcer. This is operant conditioning: “the
behavior is followed by a consequence, and the
nature of the consequence modifies the
organisms tendency to repeat the behavior in the
future.” Skinner argued that when a child’s action
Maslow wanted to understand
what motivates people. He
believed that people possess a set
of motivation systems unrelated
to rewards or unconscious
For children to adopt moral
learning, parents must show
moral behavior. Parents act as
a guide for young children as
children try to comprehend the
culture and media around
Gesell and his staff created an
extensive list of normative
information that remains
popular with and useful to
families and teachers. A parent
or teacher concerned about
what is normal behavior for a
given age can refer to Gesell’s
gradients of growth for specific
information. Parents and other
caregivers need to be aware of
the standard course of
Parents and other caregivers can
use rewards and punishments to
try to influence a child’s behavior.
He also developed what is known
as the “Skinner Box” used to study
behavior in animals.
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Sigmund Freud
*see chart
Jean Piaget
*see chart
Lev Vygotsky
repeatedly brings positive effects, it will be
repeated and learned. When negative results
repeatedly occur, the child will eventually stop
the action.
Freud believed that personality develops through a
series of childhood stages in which the pleasureseeking energies of the id become focused on
certain erogenous areas. This psychosexual energy,
or libido, was described as the driving force behind
Psychoanalytic theory suggested that personality is
mostly established by the age of five. Early
experiences play a large role in personality
development and continue to influence behavior
later in life.
Emotional experiences in childhood have profound
effects on a persona as an adult. If certain issues
are not resolved at the appropriate stage,
fixation can occur. A fixation is a persistent focus on
an earlier psychosexual stage. Until this conflict is
resolved, the individual will remain "stuck" in this
Piaget believed that children think differently
than adults and stated they go through 4
universal stages of cognitive development.
Development is therefore biologically based and
changes as the child matures. Piaget, the first to
study children in a scientific way, focused on how
children learned. He said that children go through
four stages of thinking that shape how they see
and learn about the world.
Vygotsky believed that both biological
development and cultural experiences influenced
children’s ability to think and learn. He said social
contact was essential for intellectual
development. Unlike Piaget's notion that
children’s development must necessarily precede
their learning, Vygotsky argued, "learning is a
necessary and universal aspect of the process of
developing culturally organized, specifically
human psychological function" (1978, p. 90). In
other words, social learning tends to precede (i.e.
come before) development.
.Bronfenbrenner developed the ecological systems
theory to explain how everything in a child and the
child’s environment affects how the child grows and
. Freud was the founding
father of psychoanalysis, a
method for treating mental
illness and also a theory which
explains human behavior. The
idea that early experiences
affect adult life has profound
importance for anyone caring
for a child
Children should be given learning
tasks that are suitable for their
stage of thinking.
The work of Lev Vygotsky has
become the foundation of much
research and theory in cognitive
development over the past
several decades, particularly of
what has become known as Social
Development Theory. Children
should have many opportunities
for social interaction to develop
Bronfenbrenner’s theory helps us
understand why we may behave
differently when we compare our
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
develops. Otherwise known as the Human Ecology
Theory, the Ecological Systems theory states that
human development is influenced by the different
types of environmental systems He labeled different
aspects or levels of the environment that influence
children's development, including the microsystem,
the mesosystem, the exosystem, and the
Howard Gardner
*see chart
Many of us are familiar with three general categories
in which people learn: visual learners, auditory
learners, and kinesthetic learners. The theory of
multiple intelligences has emerged from recent
cognitive research and "documents the extent to
which students possess different kinds of minds and
therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand
in different ways," according to Gardner . Gardner’s
early work in psychology and later in human cognition
and human potential led to the development of the
initial six intelligences. Today there are nine
intelligences and the possibility of others may
eventually expand the list. These intelligences (or
competencies) relate to a person’s unique aptitude set
of capabilities and ways they might prefer to
demonstrate intellectual abilities.
Daniel Levinson
Levinson proposed a theory based on a series of
stages that adults go through as they develop. At the
center of his theory is the life structure, the underlying
pattern of an individual's life at any particular time. An
individual's life structure is shaped by the social and
physical environment. Many individuals' life structures
primarily involve family and work, although other
variables such as religion, race, and economic status
are often important. Levinson's four "seasonal cycles"
include preadulthood, early adulthood, middle
adulthood, and late adulthood.
behavior in the presence of our
family and our behavior when we
are in school or at work. This
theory, published in 1979, has
influenced many psychologists in
terms of the manner of analyzing
the person and the effects of
different environmental systems
that he encounters.
Gardner says that these
differences "challenge an
educational system that assumes
that everyone can learn the same
materials in the same way and
that a uniform, universal measure
suffices to test student learning.
Indeed, as currently constituted,
our educational system is heavily
biased toward linguistic modes of
instruction and assessment and,
to a somewhat lesser degree,
toward logical-quantitative modes
as well." Gardner argues that "a
contrasting set of assumptions is
more likely to be educationally
effective. Students learn in ways
that are identifiably distinctive.
The broad spectrum of students and perhaps the society as a
whole - would be better served if
disciplines could be presented in a
numbers of ways and learning
could be assessed through a
variety of means."
Daniel Levinson developed a
comprehensive theory of adult
development. Through a series of
intensive interviews with men in
1978 and women in 1987. He was
one of the founders of the field
of Positive Adult Development.
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Children are to be respected as different from
adults and as individuals who differ from each
 Children possess an unusual sensitivity
and intellectual ability to absorb and
learn from their environment that is
unlike those of the adult both in quality
and capacity.
 The most important years of a child’s
growth are the first six years of life when
unconscious learning is gradually
brought to the conscious level.
Children have a deep love and need for
purposeful work. They work, however, not as an
adult for the completion of a job, but the sake of
an activity itself. It is this activity which enables
them to accomplish their most important goal:
the development of their individual selves – their
mental, physical and psychological powers.
Children need adults to expose them to the
possibilities of their lives, but the children must
determine their response to all the possibilities.
The teacher, child, and environment create a
learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by
the teacher to encourage independence,
freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The
child, through individual choice, makes use of
what the environment offers to develop himself,
interacting with the teacher when support
and/or guidance is needed. Multiage groupings
are a hallmark of the Montessori Method:
younger children learn from older children; older
children reinforce their learning by teaching
concepts they have already mastered. This
arrangement also mirrors the real world, where
individuals work and socialize with people of all
ages and dispositions.
Erik Erikson
*see chart
Erikson, like Freud, said personality develops
through stages. He thought that each stage
includes a unique psychological crisis. If that crisis
is met in a positive way, the individual develops
maturity. He worked on eight psychosocial
stages. However, whereas Freud was an id
psychologist, Erikson was an ego psychologist. He
Montessori stressed that
children learn by using their
senses and that they learn
best by pursuing their
interests. This system of
education is both a philosophy
of child development and a
rationale for guiding such
growth. It is based on two
important developmental
needs of children:
1. The need for freedom
within limits
2. A carefully prepared
environment which
guarantees exposure to
materials and
Through these developmental
needs, the child develops
intelligence as well as physical and
psychological abilities. The
Montessori method of education
is designed to take full advantage
of the children’s desire to learn
and their unique ability to develop
their own capabilities. Children
need to be given objects to
manipulate so they can exercise
their sensory learning. It is a view
of the child as one who is
naturally eager for knowledge and
capable of initiating learning in a
supportive, thoughtfully prepared
learning environment. It is an
approach that values the human
spirit and the development of the
whole child—physical, social,
emotional, cognitive.
Erikson’s psychosocial
theory focuses on psychosocial
conflicts throughout the lifespan.
Adult stages as well as childhood
stages are considered important.
Interactions between the
individual, society and culture
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
emphasized the role of culture and society and
the conflicts that can take place within the ego
itself, whereas Freud emphasized the conflict
between the id and the superego. According to
Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully
resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature.
These involve establishing a sense of trust in
others, developing a sense of identity in society,
and helping the next generation prepare for the
future. Erikson extends on Freudian thoughts by
focusing on the adaptive and creative
characteristic of the ego, and expanding the
notion of the stages of personality development
to include the entire lifespan.
Albert Bandura
*see chart
Bandura said that children learn by modeling. He
disagreed with Skinner. He pointed out that
although the environment shapes behavior,
behavior also affects the environment. Social
learning theory involves learning through the use
of modeling. Example: A child watches a
character on TV load a gun. The child finds a gun
and ammunition in a desk. The child loads the
Kohlberg's theory of moral development outlined six
stages within three different levels. Kohlberg extended
Piaget's theory, proposing that moral development is a
continual process that occurs throughout the lifespan.
Kohlberg based his theory upon research and
interviews with groups of young children. A series of
moral dilemmas were presented to these participants
and they were also interviewed to determine the
reasoning behind their judgments of each scenario,
such as "The Heinz Dilemma".
shape personality. Parents and
other caregivers must be aware of
a child’s needs at a particular
stage and be sensitive to the
child’s needs at that stage.
Erikson proposed a lifespan model
of development, taking in five
stages up to the age of 18 years
and three further stages beyond,
well into adulthood. Erikson
suggests that there is still plenty
of room for continued growth and
development throughout one’s
life. Erikson put a great deal of
emphasis on the adolescent
period, feeling it was a crucial
stage for developing a person’s
Since children learn by modeling,
parent and caregivers must
provide good examples. The
social learning theory proposed
by Albert Bandura has become
perhaps the most influential
theory of learning and
development. While rooted in
many of the basic concepts of
traditional learning theory,
Bandura believed that direct
reinforcement could not account
for all types of learning.
Lawrence Kohlberg modified and
expanded upon Jean
Piaget's work to form a theory
that explained how children
develop moral reasoning.
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Gesell’s Gradients of Growth:
1. Motor characteristics. These include bodily activity, eyes, and hands.
2. Personal hygiene. These include eating, sleeping, elimination, bathing and dressing, health and somatic
complaints, and tensional outlets.
3. Emotional expression. These include affective attitudes, crying, assertion, and anger.
4. Fears and dreams.
5. Self and sex.
6. Interpersonal relations. These include mother-child, child-child, and groupings in play.
7. Play and pastimes. These include general interests, reading, music, radio, and cinema.
8. School life. These include adjustment to school, classroom demeanor, reading, writing, and arithmetic.
9. Ethical sense. These include blaming and alibiing; response to direction, punishment, praise; response
to reason; sense of good and bad; and truth and property.
10. Philosophic outlook. These include time, space, language and thought, war, death, and deity.
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
1. Verbal-linguistic intelligence (well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and
rhythms of words)
2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern
logical and numerical patterns)
3. Spatial-visual intelligence (capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and
4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects
5. Musical intelligences (ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber)
6. Interpersonal intelligence (capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations
and desires of others)
7. Intrapersonal (capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking
8. Naturalist intelligence (ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature)
9. Existential intelligence (sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such
as: What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?
Kohlberg’s Moral Theory
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Freud’s Psychosexual Stages
Erik Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Maria Montessori Idea of Learning
Advanced Child Development Theorist Study Guide
Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

Mrs. Searcy`s Theorists` Cheat Sheet