Development is not simply a matter of acquiring

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Unformatted text preview: tures or capabilities that are qualitatively different from those of earlier stages. Development is not simply a matter of acquiring additional information, but it is also a matter of developing different ways of understanding the world. • The sequence of the stages is the same for all children and adolescents, but the timing of the stages can vary. This means that although typical age ranges can be specified for stages, these ages may not apply to every child. • Development is cumulative in that development in later stages have their basis in development that occurred in earlier stages. • Children and adolescents may demonstrate characteristics of two developmental stages simultaneously. Piaget refers to this as 8 horizontal decalage (Ginsburg & Opper, 1988; Nurrenbern, 2001). Horizontal decalage implies that children and adolescents may demonstrate a cognitive understanding in one situation, but fail to show the same level of cognitive understanding in a related but different situation. Piagetians usually credit children and adolescents with their highest demonstrated level of development. (Insert Table 5.1 About Here.) Sensorimotor Stage The sensorimotor stage is the period of cognitive development that occurs during the first two years of life. The term sensorimotor is descriptive of the nature of cognitive development during infancy because infants think and develop schemes through their motor responses to stimuli in the environment. For example, by hitting crib mobiles and making them move, infants develop basic understandings (schemes) about cause and effect. Although a lot happens during these first two years, the development of intentionality and object permanence are particularly important to Piagetians (Wadsworth, 1996). Intentionality. Intentionality develops gradually during the sensorimotor stage, and it consists of consciously acting in certain ways to achieve goals (Thomas, 2000). At first, newborn infants’ motor responses consist mainly of neonatal reflexes. For example, if you place your finger a few millimeters into a newborn infant’s mouth, your finger should initiate a sucking reflex. If you place 9 your finger in a newborn’s hand, the infant should demonstrate the palmar grasp reflex by closing her hand around the finger. All nenonatal reflexes are initiated by an environmental stimulus, and the infant responds automatically to the stimulus. By the time infants exit the sensorimotor period, however, they develop the understanding that they can achieve goals through their behavior. This understanding is reflected in the development of circular reaction. A circular reaction is when an infant’s behavior creates an environmental effect that motivates the infant to repeat the behavior (Piaget, 1927). One of your authors recently observed a circular reaction at a local restaurant. A waiter placed drawing paper and a crayon on the high chair tray in front of an infant girl. The infant picked up the crayon and dropped it on the floor, and the young father promptly return...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.

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