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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
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
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- Spring '08