Piaget/Genetic Epistemology HOW DO CHILDREN`S MINDS

Piaget/Genetic Epistemology HOW DO CHILDREN’S MINDS DEVELOP?
This theory can be used to decide on appropriate teaching methods, help decide which learning theory to
Studies the development of cognitive structures (developmental stages) from birth through adolescence.
Schemas (skills for dealing with or learning about the environment) are tested with new objects or
situations. The child will assimilate the new object into the old schema or adapt the schema if necessary.
Assimilation + Adaptation =Learning
Equilibrium- an agreement between the environment and the structure of the mind.
The stages
Concrete Operations
Formal Operations
(some do not reach this stageever)
Senses and motor abilities are employed to
make sense of the environment. Begin to
develop object permanence (remembering
a hidden object)/ a defining characteristic
for the next stage.
Child is egocentric, can pretend and learns
to use symbols (drawing, writing,
language). Also understands past and
future. Development of concept of
conservation begins (the understanding that
a change in shape or arrangement does not
change amount).
Child masters concept of conservation,
including conservation of area. Still cannot
deal with hypothetical situations.
Use of logical operations in the abstract/
hypothetical thinking, experimental design.
Can make decisions using morals as a basis.
Progression through stages depends on:
 Maturation- growth in mind and body
 Experience- interaction with (real)objects in the external environment
 Social interaction- with other people, especially children
 Equilibration- use of the three previous factors to build a schema- it is driven by the discrepancy
between the existing schema and something new.
Piaget’s theory can help decide:
 at what age children are ready for the material you want to teach. (Most 10 year olds cannot
comprehend how variables are used in algebra)
 what methods will be effective in teaching children of various ages. (Experimental design is best
understood by learners who can think abstractly.)
 What methods will be effective in teaching developmentally challenged adults and children. (They
may not understand a food budget on paper(abstract), but they may understand a lesson using paper
money and pictures of groceries(symbols).)
 What changes must be made in teaching methods if your learner age changes (Teaching chemistry to
all 10th graders instead of select 11th graders will require more concrete examples such as drawings
and models.)
Similar to other constructivist theories:
 Adjusting a schema is problem solving
 Vygotsky (Social Development) also relates cognitive development to age.
 Bruner (Constructivist) and Piaget say that lessons must be engaging to the learner
 Piaget’s learners must master one stage before they can proceed to the next, and Bruner’s learners
extrapolate from knowledge already mastered, applying that knowledge to new situations.
There are other theories which divide cognition into several components, though not in age related stages:
 Sternberg (Triarchic)- experiential, contextual, and componential subtheories.
 Gardner (Multiple Intelligences)- In Reigeluth, six “entry points” for teaching: narrational,
quantitative, foundational, aesthetic, hands-on, and social.
 Guilford uses a three dimensional spreadsheet to combine three types of factors; content, operations,
and products, into 150 type of learning.
Just as Piaget developed age related stages for cognitive development, Kohlberg developed stages for moral
development, Freud for psychosexual development, and Erikson for psychosocial development.