What is Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory?
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development includes both processes of how we have knowledge and stages of the development and interpretation of this knowledge. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is still an accepted theory, even though it still has deficiencies.
Piaget argued that, unlike other theorists, the idea of children may be different from that of adults. So what we want to emphasize here is that, from a cognitive point of view, the child is not the youngest of the adult. The child thinks, understands, feels and grasps different from adults. This idea also applies to educational theories.
Piaget said that thought development proceeds in a universal and hierarchical order. According to him, every child born has the same way of thinking. And there is a certain order of cognitive development. This evolutionary understanding states that developmental processes are gradual. Therefore it emphasizes the importance of the biological background, since everyone will observe the same processes.
According to Piaget, development can be explained by physiological-biological processes. In short, according to Piaget, the stage refers to a biological ripening and growth.
Piaget’s 4 Stages of Cognitive Development
Piaget proposed four stages of cognitive development which reflect the increasing sophistication of children’s thought:
1. Sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2)
2. Preoperational stage (from age 2 to age 7)
3. Concrete operational stage (from age 7 to age 11)
4. Formal operational stage (age 11+ – adolescence and adulthood).
1) Sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2)
At this stage, the child’s basic way of acquiring knowledge and exploring the world is the senses (skin, eyes, ears, nose, tongue), as well as their movements and actions. During this period, children exhibit some instinctive reflexes such as sucking, swallowing, searching, searching for roots. For example, a newborn baby’s reflex when he touches his cheek and turns his head in that direction to find out where that touch comes from can be an example of the reflexive behavior pattern of the baby or newborn.
2) Preoperational stage (from age 2 to age 7)
In this period, it is seen that the linguistic development of children accelerates. Children begin to express their wishes by using the language. Sometimes some words they use may be specific to them.
During this period, they generally act in accordance with reality. They use some mental representations. One of the most prominent features of this period is self-centeredness. Self-centeredness, the child’s inability to replace himself or herself, can only be explained as a state of perceiving and evaluating events from his own perspective. For example, since he cannot see the object he is hiding behind the bag, he thinks that no one can.
3) Concrete operational stage (from age 7 to age 11)
This is a period where children coincide with primary school age and cognitive development accelerates with the rapid physical development. During this period, mental processes begin to become more complex, and children’s thinking skills develop. Almost all over the world, children begin education and training at the beginning of this age; because this is a period in which some concrete realities can be understood.
4) Formal operational stage (age 11+ – adolescence and adulthood).
In this period, the figures and their behaviors and discourses around the individual are very valuable. So the child establishes cause-effect relationships in the face of the situations he / she lives and thinks with abstract concepts. He begins to understand metaphors such as proverb, idiom, metaphorical sentences. Generalize level. Adolescence and the existence of some important decisions (school choices, occupational orientations, etc.) that can be taken during this period can lead to confusion, indecision and complex thinking. The individual actually learns to look at the events from this point of view.