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Jean Piaget: Theory Of Cognitive Development

1736 words - 7 pages

Throughout history, many people have made important contributions to the school of psychology. Jean Piaget was one who made a contribution with his theories on the cognitive development stages. Cognitive development is the process of acquiring intelligence and increasingly advanced thought and problem-solving ability from infancy to adulthood. Piaget states that the mind of a child develops through set stages to adulthood (Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com). The theory of cognitive development has made a significant impact throughout the history of psychology, and is still practiced and learned about today.
Jean Piaget was born on August 9, 1896 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and died on September 16, 1980 in Geneva (Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com). He studied zoology and philosophy at the University of Neuchâtel, receiving his doctorate in 1918 (Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com). However, he became interested in psychology, merging his biological training with his interest in epistemology, the theory of knowledge (Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com). Later, in 1919, he then began two years of study, taking courses in pathological psychology at the Sorbonne University in Paris (Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com). While Piaget was in Paris, he devised and administered reading tests to schoolchildren and became interested in the types of errors they made, leading him to explore the reasoning process in young children (Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com). He was so fascinated by what he found, he devoted the rest of his life to this subject (Isaacs 67).
Jean Piaget theorized that children’s thinking develops in four stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational (Rathus 242). These stages constitute an ongoing contribution to psychology. His theory was imperative to understand that early cognitive development involves processes based upon actions and later progresses into changes in mental operations (Cherry). Piaget’s stages of cognitive development have had an enormous impact on developmental psychology, as well as education. Albert Einstein called Piaget’s discovery “so simple only a genius could have thought of it” (Cherry).
The first stage of cognitive development, called the sensorimotor stage, is characterized by learning to coordinate sensation and perception with motor activity. Infants begin to understand that there is a relationship between their physical movements and the results they sense and perceive (Rathus 242). This stage lasts from birth to approximately age two years old, and is focuses on the infant trying to make sense of the world (Cherry). The behavior of newborns is mainly reflexive; they are only capable of responding to their environment and cannot initiate behavior. However, at about one month of age, infants begin to act with purpose. As they coordinate vision with touch, for example, they will look at...

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