Alternatives to piagetian stage theory the

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Unformatted text preview: l nature of cognitive development. • A single, global theory of cognitive development may not be the most effective way to explain all the different types of cognitive 20 development and the differences observed among individuals and groups of people. Alternatives to Piagetian stage theory. The observation that children become more sophisticated in their thinking and problem solving as they grow older is empirically validated and important. However, the Piagetians, however, only provide one theoretical explanation for this observation, and there can be alternative explanations for their observations (Caroff, 2002). Informationprocessing theory and neo-Piagetian theories provide two important alternative explanations. Information-processing views of cognitive development are based on the multi-store model of memory described in Chapter 3. Students’ cognitive development is explained in terms of the following improvements in their ability to process information more efficiently. • As children develop during the elementary school period, they become better able to sustain attention, to resist distractions, and they become better able to focus attention on the important parts of a task (Hagen & Stanovich, 1977; Ruff & Lawson, 1990). • As children develop during the elementary school period, they tend to develop automaticity for important basic skills such as reading decoding and basic math calculations. As we discussed in Chapter 21 3, automaticity reduces working memory load and allows for more complicated problem-solving approaches. • During elementary school children acquire more knowledge in long-term memory, and that knowledge becomes more integrated. These developments allow students to be more efficient in learning new knowledge (Bjorklund, 1987; Eacott, 1999). • As students develop during the elementary school period they tend to develop more effective strategies for memorization and learning (Bjorklund & Coyle, 1995; Kail, 1990; Plummert, 1994). For example, preschool children are much less likely to use strategies such as rehearsal and organization than are older elementary school students. • During the elementary school period, students improve their metacognitive knowledge and self-regulation skills (Schneider, 1998). For example, upper elementary school students have a better sense of their memory capabilities, are more accurate in their judgments of whether or not they know something, and are more likely to allocate attention to difficult or unknown material when studying (Nelson & Narens, 1994; Schneider, 1998). Neo-Piagetian theories retain some of Piaget’s key assumptions, but they also differ from Piagetian theory in key ways (Case, 1987, 1992; Cole & Cole, 22 1993; Pascual-Leone, 2000; Siegler, 1998). First, neo-Piagetians reject the idea of general laws or stages of development, and believe instead that development can occur differently in different areas or domains, or in different ways for different children. Second, Neo-Piagetians theorize a different mechanism for development. Cognitive development results from increases in processing or working m...
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