Jean Piaget's Developmental Stage Theory
Overview:Jean Piaget, a Swiss biologist, believed that children developed cognition and knowledge by progressing through a series of developmental stages. Piaget hypothesized that each stage occured in a sequential order, and that none of
Key Terms (Driscoll et al, wikipedia.org)
Assimilation: Incorporating new logical structures (or schema) into existing ones that we then apply to the world around us.
Accommodation: Modifying logical structures or schema to better deal with the environment.
Equalibriation: The balance between the cognitive structures of assimilation and accommodation in attaining knowledge,
Egocentrism: The failure to understand how someone else's point of view might be different from their own. Piaget's research pointed to the fact that egocentrisim was most prominent before the age of six or seven. However, Piaget's later research, as well as that of other researcher's, have hypothesized that egocentrism can arise at any stage of development, but in new and different forms.
Assimilation and Accommodation can alternatively be explained by viewing this video.
To become more familiar with these concepts, read over some examples of assimilation and accommodation.
Lastly, the flow chart below may help to visually summarize these terms:
Stages of Development:
(Saler and Edginton, 2008)
Piaget's theory center's upon the four stages of development that take place in children. The following charts, and video's summarize what each stage entails. The mind map (above) illustrates how they relate to each other:
- Intelligence is demonstrated through motor activity without the use of symbols.
- Knowledge of the world is limited because it is based on physical interactions/ experiences.
- Children acquire object permeance at about 7 months of age.
- Physical development (mobility) allows the child to begin developing new intellectual abilities.
- Some symbolic (language) abilities are developed at the end of this stage.
- Intelligence demonstrated through the use of symbols, language use matures, and memory and imagination are developed.
- Thinking is done in a nonlogical, nonreversable manner.
- Egocentric Thinking Predominates
Concrete Operational Stage:
- Intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects.
- Operational thinking develops (mental actions that are reversible).
- Egocentric thought diminishes.
Formal Operational Stage:
- Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical manipulation of symbols related to abstract concepts.
- Early in this period there is a return to egocentric thought.
- Many adults never attain this stage.
Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development--From a Piagtian Developmental Readiness Perspective
Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), simply put, is the area between what someone can achieve developmentally in terms of problem solving at a fixed point in time (a snapshot), and what they can potentially achieve through problem solving with the help of someone more capable (ongoing development). (Vygotsky, quoted in Miller, 2002).
For Piaget, ZPD is akin to moving from one of his four stages of development to the next. The ‘zone’ for Piaget would be developing (the ongoing) attributes associated with each stage, from commencement to conclusion. Piaget also hypothesized that humans used cognitive structures to attain and develop knowledge. Cognitive structures are how we deal with and interpret the world in order to gain knowledge. The most important form of knowledge for Piaget would be operative knowledge, which deals with knowing about change. (Campbell, 2006).
Hence, for Piaget, attaining operative knowledge is akin to a person being within the ZPD. He saw cognitive structures as being organic and dynamic, much like Vygotsky’s ZPD, where the learner is constantly progressing in their acquisition of problem solving skills, and hence development (Campbell, 2006).
ZPD relies upon prompts, models, clues, leading questions,etc to help a learner progress developmentally. Piaget would argue that these are synonymous with his own notions of accommodation and assimilation, both of which are ways to incorporate knowledge into cognitive structures.
Therefore Piaget would see ZPD as being a sound developmental principle, as both notions rely on ‘constructing’ knowledge, albeit through different mechanisms (assimilation and accommodation vs. prompts, etc).
However, Piaget would disagree with Vygotsky on the impact of culture on ZPD. As stage theory does not factor in cultural aspects on development, Piaget would point out that his theory is universal, and not culturally specific.
Applications of Developmental Theory:
The following tables give practical, real-world applications of developmental theory in action. Each stage includes associated activities and strategies that can be used to implement developmental theory in pedagogical terms:
These strategies can be applied by going through the following webquest.
Lastly, here are some examples of some games that take Piagetian Developmental Stages into account.
Bhattacharya, K.& Han, S. (2001). Piaget and cognitive development. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved June 8, 2008, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt
Campbell, R. (1997). Jean Piaget's Genetic Epistemology: Appreciation and Critique. ETEC 512 http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~campber/piaget.html
Developmental Approaches to Learning. Retrieved June 4, 2008 from http://etec512.blogspot.com/
Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (pp.227-244; Ch. 7 - Interactional Theories of Cognitive Development). Toronto, ON: Pearson.
Examples of Piagetian Assimilation and Accommodation Retrived June 7, 2008 from http://www.ups.edu/facultypages/cjones/piaget-examples.doc
Familly Fun: Games by Age-And more Family Fun. Retrived June 6, 2008 from http://familyfun.go.com/games/games-by-age/
Huitt, W. (1997). Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development . Retrieved 2 June, 2008, from Educational Psychology Interactive: http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/edpsyppt/Theory/piaget2.ppt
Huitt, W. (1997). Cognitive development: Applications. Educational Psychology Interactive . Valdosta , GA : Valdosta State University . Retrieved [ June 2, 2008 ], from http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/cogsys/piagtuse.html .
Jean Piaget. (2008, June 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:14, June 16, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jean_Piaget&oldid=218574331
Miller, P.H. (2002). Theories of Developmental Pyschology 4th Ed. (pp.367-396; Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Approach). New York: Worth.
Morris, Joyce L. WebQuests. Retrieved June 4, 2008 from http://www.uvm.edu/~jmorris/wq/webquest.html
Quiz - Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development. Retrived June 15, 2008 from http://psychology.about.com/library/quiz/bl_piaget_quiz.htm
Saler, G. and Edgington, C. G. Retrieved June 3, 2008 , from http://pt3.nl.edu/saleredgingtonwebquest.pdf