PIAGET - PIAGETS COGNITIVE-DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY Jean...

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PIAGET’S COGNITIVE-DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY Jean Piaget (1896-1980) influenced research in child development more than any other theorist. He was largely ignored in America from 1930-1960 because those were the years that behaviorism dominated American psychology. With the advent of the “cognitive revolution” in the early 1960s, however, Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theory got more attention. Since then, his views have been subjected to test after test. Not all of his theories have been found to be correct, but even his critics agree that his work revolutionized the field. He believed that children were not passive creatures who learned only by positive and negative reinforcement, as the behaviorists thought. He believed that children were actively involved in their own development. They actively constructed knowledge from manipulating their environment and exploring their world. He also believed that children’s development occurred in stages, rather than in a continuous fashion. A lot of Piaget’s theory developed with the methods of observations (often of his own 3 children) and the clinical interview. Clinical interviews are conducted in a flexible, open- ended conversational style in which the questions asked were not standardized but depended upon the specific interactions with the child. He asked questions based on a child’s answers to previous questions. This approach was widely criticized because Piaget didn’t follow a specified, standardized format, but it was this approach that allowed him to gather as much information as he did about children’s thought processes. The more Piaget observed his own children, the more he became convinced that it was through action —manipulating objects and moving in space—that cognitive structures were created and transformed.
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