Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist, philosopher, and psychologist known for his work in developmental psychology. Piaget divided cognitive growth and development into fixed stages. Piaget's focus was on the intellectual or cognitive development of children and the way their mind's took in knowledge. Piaget's thesis was that children develop self-centric theories about their environment, and about objects or persons in that environment. Children will grow and base these theories on their own personal experiences. Those personal experiences will help the child interact with people and objects in their environment. Schemas are what a child will use to gain knowledge about the environment and sophistication. Cognitive structures of a child will increase, grow and develop, just like the child's schemes. Schemas are a childs actions and responses to make things happen. Start with rudimentary interactions such as grabbing and mouthing objects and eventually progress to highly sophisticated skills such as scientific observation. (Taylor,G, Mackenny,L 2008)
Piaget came up with a path of four stages that started at birth and culminated in the teen years. The first stage is the sensorimotor stage for children 0-2 years old. In this stage a child will suck, push, grab and shake to show interactions within the environment through physical actions. Those actions will build cognitive structures related to the world and how it functions or responds. Next is the preoperational stage for children 2-7 years old. In this stage you must have Hands-On experiences with a child because they are not able to abstract conceptions. Visual representations is important in order to form basic conclusions. You must do things repeatedly for children in this age group in order for them to grasp the cause and effect connection. Then there is the concrete operations for ages 7 to 11 is when a child is learning and developing from physical experiences. Therefore a child begins to learn sophisticated explanations and predictions. They start to do some abstract problem solving such as mental math while learning the best interpret real life situations educational material. Last there is formal operation for ages 11 to 15 years old. Formal operation is also for ages 15 and up because cognitive structures for teens are not that different from an adult. The extensive work with children revealed many insights about what happens as children move through these phases of development. (Woolfolk, 2001, p.31).
One of the most significant was the concept of equilibrium/disequilibrium. The concept is when a childs interaction with the environment don’t show results that confirm his/her mental model, he/she could easily assimilate the experience. The experience resulted in something new and unexpected, that resulted in disequilibrium. This will cause a child to be confused and frustrated. That will cause the child to change her cognitive structures...