Theory of Cognitive Development and Children Essay

Submitted By Alijammer1
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Learning Theories

Piaget: constructivism
Piaget based many theories on his observations of his children. He reached the conclusion that infants lack the understanding of object permanence - the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they can no longer be seen. The idea of centring is the feeling that an infant has that s/he is the centre and moving force of their world.

In Piaget's theory of development, the central notion is is that of the schema - a representation of of a sequence of actions developed as a result of a child's actions on the environment. Initially the schema is a sequence of behaviours, such as sucking, reaching and grasping.

Piaget's developmental processes suggests that the infant firstly develops the ability to combine different schemes in order to achieve new ends. The child then represents the schemas 'internally' - they become representations of actions (operations). Finally, by the age of 2 years, the child develops the ability to combine representations into sets of actions. Piaget's stage theory of development
Stage 1: sensori motor stage (birth - 2 years)
Children are born with innate behaviours (reflexes) which are the first means of making sense of the world.
They take in new knowledge and experiences as far as they are consistent with their environment
(schemas). As contact with the environment increases, more elaborate patterns of behaviour are developed. The stage ends when the child is able to represent their behaviours internally.

Stage 2: pre-operational stage (2 - 6 years)
Children use sequences of actions that can be acted symbolically. For example, putting two objects together can be represented as an abstract mathematical principle (addition). However, at this stage, children are only able to perform them in the real world rather than symbolically.

Stage 3: concrete operational stage (6 - 12 years)
Children begin to master the ability to act appropriately within their environment by using sequences of actions acquired during the previous stage. The ability to generate rules based on their own experiences, such as adding an object to a group makes more, is developed. Children also now have the ability to symbolically manipulate their environment, so can imagine adding another object to make more. They can still only understand rules that they have had concrete experience of, but can start mental manipulations of concepts. They are not yet able to anticipate something that may happen if they have had no experience.

Stage 4: formal operational stage (12 years +)
Children are able to reason in an abstract manner without reference to a concrete experience. Problems are tackled in a systematic and scientific way, and they are able to generate hypotheses about their environment based on their accumulated representations of it.

Skinner: behaviourism
Behaviourism suggests that all behaviour is learned and maintained by its consequences.
The effects were studied by Skinner, who devised apparatus and methods for investigations, ie the Skinner Box. An animal in the box discovers that by pressing a lever, food pellets are delivered in to the box. In time, the animal learns that in order to get more food, the lever must be pressed, and so the animals behaviour becomes reinforced. In anther condition, the lever pressing resulted in a shock ie punishment. Therefore the behaviour is decreased as the animal associates he lever pressing behaviour with an unpleasant experience.

Reinforcement has positive and negative forms; positive reinforcement refers to the presentation of a stimulus that increases a behaviour. Negative reinforcement refers to an increase in behaviour following the removal of an aversive (unpleasant) stimulus a child may increase room cleaning behaviour as it removes parental disapproval.

Punishment has three forms; positive punishment refers to the presentation