Jean Piaget’s Theory and Cognitive Development
Cognition refers to thinking and memory processes, and cognitive development refers to long-term changes in these processes. One of the most widely known perspectives about cognitive development is the cognitive stage theory of a Swiss psychologist named Jean Piaget.
Piaget created and studied an account of how children and youth gradually become able to think logically and scientifically. His theory is especially popular among educators.
Piaget was a psychological constructivist. In his view, learning occurs through the interplay of assimilation (adjusting new experiences to fit prior concepts) and accommodation (adjusting concepts to fit new experiences). The to-and-fro of these two processes leads not only to short-term learning but also to long-term developmental change. The long-term developments are really the main focus of Piaget’s cognitive theory.
After observing children closely, Piaget proposed that cognition developed through distinct stages from birth through the end of adolescence.
By stages he meant a sequence of thinking patterns with four key features:
1. They always happen in the same order.
2. No stage is ever skipped.
3. Each stage is a significant transformation of the stage before it.
4. Each later stage incorporated the earlier stages into itself.
Basically this is the “staircase” model of development mentioned earlier.
Piaget proposed four major stages of cognitive development, and called them:
Concrete Operational Thinking
Formal Operational Thinking.
Each stage is correlated with an age period of childhood, but only approximately.