Jean Piaget Essay Research Paper ConservationJean Piaget

Jean Piaget Essay, Research Paper


Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who did work on the development of intelligence in children. His studies have had a major impact on the fields of psychology and education. Piaget liked to call himself a genetic epistemologist (is a person who studies the origins of human knowledge) His theories led to more advanced work in child psychology. Piaget does work involving both experimental and observational methods.

Piaget believed that from birth humans are active learners, he also believed that cognitive development occurs in four stages. Stage I, sensorimotor intelligence (birth-2 years), takes the child from unrelated reflexive movements to behavior that reflects knowledge of simple concepts. During this stage, the child learns about himself and his environment. Thought derives from sensation and movement. The child learns that he is separate from his environment and that aspects of his environment — his parents or favorite toy — continue to exist even though they may be outside the reach of his senses. Teaching for a child in this stage should be geared to the sensorimotor system. You can modify behavior by using the senses: a frown, a stern or soothing voice — all serve as appropriate techniques.

Stage II, preoperational thought (2-7 years), is characterized by an increasing use of abstract symbols as 0reflected in imaginative play. Preoperational Thought is the capacity to coordinate symbols in a meaningful way it increases, mental reasoning emerges, use of concepts increases. Applying his new knowledge of language, the child begins to use symbols to represent objects. Early in this stage he also personifies objects. He is now better able to think about things and events that aren’t immediately present. Oriented to the present, the child has difficulty conceptualizing time. His thinking is influenced by fantasy — the way he’d like things to be — and he assumes that others see situations from his viewpoint.

Stage III, concrete operational thought (7-11 years), involves relatively sophisticated problem-solving behavior and attainment of adult thought. Stage IV, formal operational thought (12 years and older), is characterized by the ability to develop hypotheses and deduce new concepts.

Child psychologists are and always have been interested in the interaction of biological traits and environmental events that influence behavior and development. Research today involves things such as memory and attention span also they are trying to find out how you get from one level of thought to the next.

Piaget asserted that for a child to know and construct knowledge of the world the child must act on objects and it is this action which provides knowledge of those objects, the mind organizes reality and acts upon it. Readiness approaches in developmental psychology emphasize that children cannot learn something until maturation gives them certain prerequisites. The ability to learn any cognitive content is always related to their stage of intellectual development. Children who are at a certain stage cannot be taught the concepts of a higher stage.

Some children advance more quickly in the development of logical intelligence than do others, this is known as Piagetian Principals in the Classroom. The students should be given the freedom to understand and construct meaning at their own pace through personal experiences as they develop through individual developmental processes. Learning is an active process in which errors will be made and solutions will be found. Piaget did several experiments with children on conservation tasks (tasks devised to find out whether children understood that some transformations of objects leave some of their property unchanged). Children tend to focus on one part of the task this is known as centration. The stage in which we are discussing is the pre-operational stage, involving children ages 2-7. In order to get an accurate measure of children’s abilities I went into an elementary school where I tested some children in grades 1,3,5 using the examples listed below.

Examples of experiments done by Jean Piaget from 1896 to 1980 established the notion of conservation of number and demonstrated that children mostly lack it up to the age of 7. There are a couple of different types of conservation’s such as the conservation of area; this when you have a square in one picture and a rectangle in another and ask the kids what one is bigger, they usually guess the rectangle instead of saying that they both are the same. Children are usually able to do this by age 5 or 6. Another example would be conservation of liquid; this is when you have two glasses of the same size with the same amount of liquid in them, then you pour one of the cups of liquid into a taller glass asking the child which has more. Children usually find this one tricky especially younger kids but children between 7 and 8 seem to be able to handle it. Another example would be the number conservation where you show the kids two pictures, one with a row of ten cows and another with two rows of five. The children usually say that there are more cows on the top because it is longer. Children usually are able to get this one right by the age of 5 or 6. These are just a few types of examples; there are many more, which could have been used.

The idea has had a formative influence on the instruction of mathematics. Place two rows of different objects in front of a six-year-old. Ask the child whether there are more circles, more squares, or the same number of each kind. The expected answer is “The same.” Rearrange one row as shown and ask the same question again. This time around a child would say “More squares.” Another example would be if you had two balls of clay that were the same size, then you flattened one; the children would say the flat one is bigger. The example that was really neat to see was; when you take two straws exactly the same size and put them side by side, the children think that they are the same; when you push one up a little further the children think it is bigger because it is higher. There are lots of examples to show that children in grades primary through to about 5 or 6 can not get these questions right.

One of the achievements of Piaget’s research is the universal acceptance of the fact that children do not think like adults, they think differently and in different categories.


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