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Infants, Children, and Adolescents (6th Edition)

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CHAPTER 6 COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT in INFANCY and TODDLERHOOD I. PIAGET'S COGNITIVE-DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY A. Key Piagetian Concepts 1. Piaget believed children move through four stages of development between infancy and adolescence. 2. During the sensorimotor stage, infants and toddlers "think" with their eyes, ears, hands, and other sensorimotor equipment. 3. What Changes With Development a. Piaget believed a child's schemes (organized ways of making sense of experience) change with age. b. Schemes are action-based (motor patterns) at first and later will move to a mental (thinking) level. 4. How Cognitive Change Takes Place a. Adaptation 1) Adaptation is the process of building schemes through direct interaction with the environment, 2) Assimilation is a part of adaptation in which the external world is interpreted through existing schemes. 3) Accommodation is the part of adaptation in which new schemes are created or old ones adjusted to produce a better fit with the environment. 4) Equilibrium exists when children are not changing very much and they are in a steady, comfortable cognitive state; assimilation is used more than accommodation. 5) Disequilibrium is the state of cognitive discomfort which occurs during times of rapid change; accommodation is used more than assimilation. 6) Back-and-forth movement between equilibrium and disequilibrium leads to the development of more effective schemes. b. Organization 1) Organization is an internal process of rearranging and linking together schemes to form an interconnected cognitive system. 2) Schemes reach a true state of equilibrium when they become part of a broad network of structures that can be jointly applied to the surrounding world. B. The Sensorimotor Stage 1. Piaget based the sensorimotor stage on his observations of his own children. 2. The Circular Reaction a. Circular reactions are the means by which infants explore the environment and build schemes by trying to repeat chance events caused by their own motor activity. b. These reactions are first centered on the infant's own body. Subsequently, they change to manipulating objects and then to producing novel effects in the environment. 3. Substage 1: Reflexive Schemes (Birth to I Month) a. Piaget regarded newborn reflexes as the building blocks of sensorimotor intelligence.
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b. At first, babies suck, grasp, and look in much the same way, no matter what the circumstances. 4. Substage 2: Primary Circular Reactions-The First Learned Adaptations (I to 4 Months) a. Infants develop simple motor skills and change their behavior in response to environmental demands. b. The first circular reactions are primary in that they are oriented towards the infants' own bodies and motivated by basic needs. 5. Substage 3: Secondary Circular Reactions-Making Interesting Sights Last (4 to 8 Months) a. Circular reactions of this substage are secondary in that the infants repeat actions that affect the environment.
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