These theories can be particularly useful for

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Unformatted text preview: emory capacity, rather than qualitative changes in mental structures like schemes. One advantage of these alternatives to Piaget is that they often focus on the developmental sequences for specific skills such as number sense or spelling (Henderson & Beers, 1980; Siegler, 1998). These theories can be particularly useful for teachers because they identify the types of strategies and understandings you are likely to observe as children’s knowledge of an academic skill increases. For example, by age four many children can use counting to solve simple addition problems. By the time these children are first graders, many of them start using the “min” strategy for single-digit addition problems (RittleJohnson & Siegler, 1998). With the “min” strategy, children say the name of the larger number and count up from there. For example, if asked to add 8 plus 2, the child would say “eight,” and then count up two (nine and ten). Educational Implications of Piagetian Theory Piaget did not set out to explain school learning, and there is no Piagetian dogma on education (Bunce, 2001; Gruber & Voneche, 1977). He did on occasion 23 discuss education, but for the most part specific recommendations for applying his theory to school-based learning was not of interest to him, and have come from others (Bunce, 2001; Elkind, 1976; Fischbein, 1999; Herron, 1975; Hooper & Defrain, 1980; Furth, 1970; Furth & Wachs, 1975; Kamii, 1985; Schwebel & Raph, 1973). These educational recommendations have focused on teaching students to think and problem-solve, and typically are some variant of the following core ideas from Ginsburg & Opper (1988) and Hooper & DeFrain (1980). • Learners need to be engaged in active learning experiences that allow students to invent or construct understanding through their own spontaneous research activities, rather than having ideas transmitted to them through teacher directed instruction (McCarthy Gallagher & Reid, 1981). • Teachers should be aware of their students’ cognitive developmental level, and design learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate for those students. According to Furth and Wachs (1974), a developmentally appropriate activity is one that challenges a student’s thinking, but that is not so difficult that the student is likely to fail. this idea has been referred to as optimal mismatch (Kuhn, 1979). 24 • Children, especially young children, learn best from concrete learning experiences (Ravanis & Bagakis, 1998). • Social interaction is important for fostering development. During social interactions, children can complement and also compensate for the thinking of others. Also, when younger learners are exposed to points of view that are different from their own, it helps them confront their egocentrism. Also social interactions help older students become more reflective about their thinking. Later in the chapter, we will find that a number of these ideas have been incorporat...
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