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Jean Piaget “The great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing”

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Presentation on theme: "Jean Piaget “The great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Jean Piaget “The great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing”

2 Early Life ▪ Born on August 9, 1886 in Neuchatel, Switzerland ▪ Had many interests as a child – Mollusks, mechanics, birds, fossils of secondary and tertiary levels, seashells ▪ Published his first paper at age 10 ▪ Graduated from the University of Neuchatel with his Ph.D. in Science at age 22

3 Middle Life ▪ Spent 2 years at the Sorbonne and attended courses in psychology. ▪ Studied psychology under Carl Jung (father of Jungian psychology) for a semester in Zurich ▪ Taught at a boys’ school run by Alfred Binet (father of the standardized intelligence test) in Paris – Began to theorize about development based on the incorrect answers he observed from young children – Critiqued Binet’s test for being too rigid and then allowed children to explain their answers

4 Piaget as a Psychologist ▪ Analyzed children’s verbal reasoning in response to cause and effect events ▪ Spent a tremendous amount of time and effort observing his 3 children and using them for cognitive experiments – Main goal: to understand how children acquired knowledge ▪ Studied children’s development for 30 years ▪ Fathered the cognitive and developmental psychology movements

5 Late Life ▪ Held many appointments at different universities as a professor, chair, and researcher ▪ Awarded multiple honorary degrees from prestigious universities such as Harvard and Oxford ▪ Highly prolific publisher of hundreds of papers and over 50 books ▪ Died September 17, 1980

6 Main Contributions ▪ First psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development – Conducted detailed observational studies of cognition in children ▪ Series of simple tests to illustrate cognitive abilities ▪ Led to other studies by several psychologists ▪ Showed children and adolescents think differently compared to adults

7 Main Contributions ▪ Extremely influential in developing educational policy and teaching – Discovery learning – Readiness concerns – Active learning – Student-centered – Collaborative instruction

8 Main Contributions Cont. ▪ Theory of cognitive child development – Goal: to explain processes by which the infant and then the child develops into an individual who can reason & think using hypotheses

9 Piaget's Cognitive Theory: Three Components 1. Schemas – action sequence 2. Adaptation Processes – allows transition from one stage to another – equilibrium, assimilation, and accommodation 3. Stages of Development – sequence of development

10 Schemas ▪ Way of organizing knowledge ▪ How to react to incoming stimuli or information ▪ Increases in number and complexity ▪ State of equilibrium – Cognitive balance occurs when existing schemas can adjust to new information

11 Buying a Sandwich CLICKORDEREAT

12 Assimilation and Accommodation ▪ Assimilation: Using existing knowledge to face a new situation; existing knowledge is consistent with new knowledge and the two fit nicely together ▪ Accommodation: Existing knowledge is insufficient & additional knowledge is needed to face a new situation; existing knowledge is inconsistent with new knowledge and that must be reconciled ▪ Building blocks of knowledge are key in Piaget’s view of cognitive development

13 1) Sensorimotor Stage ▪ From birth to around age 2 ▪ Infants begin to build up knowledge of the world around them ▪ Initially reliant on reflexes ▪ Object permanence HereHere is an example of this stage

14 2) Preoperational Stage ▪ 2- 7 years of age ▪ Thoughts & communications usually egocentric ▪ Child becomes capable of symbolic play HereHere is an example of this stage

15 3) Concrete Operational Stage – 7-11 years of age – Beginning of logical/operational thought – More organized and rational thinking ▪ Conservation – Understanding that although the appearance of something changes, the thing itself does not – Unable to think abstractly or hypothetically HereHere is an example

16 4) Formal Operational Stage – Around 11 years + – Ability to think in an abstract manner – Independently manipulate ideas (abstract reasoning) ▪ Inferential reasoning – Draw conclusions about things which the child has not actually experienced

17 The Potential Stages of Adolescent Development Concrete Operational Stage Formal Operational Stage 7-11 years of age11-15 years of age Main source of knowledge is actionsMain source of knowledge is mental operations Capable of logical thinking about concrete events Capable of logical thinking about abstract & hypothetical events Mastery of conservation & mathematical operations Mastery of abstract logic allows for mature moral reasoning Achieved by the large majority of people before or during adolescence Achieved by only a portion of people in adolescence (and during the lifespan)

18 Connections to Adolescent Development ▪ Neuroscience: – Development of the prefrontal cortex necessarily precedes the “logical, abstract, hypothetical” thinking of formal operations – Connections increase such that knowledge is added to “an active, complex, self-organizing system” – Pruning creates more efficient thought processes & facilitates logical & abstract reasoning ▪ Social: – The role of cognitive readiness both inside & outside the classroom – Peers become large & influential source of information that can lead to accommodation or assimilation – Egocentrism & altruism

19 Critiques of Piaget’s Developmental Theory ▪ Stages vs. continuum ▪ Universal vs. performance variability ▪ Underestimation of children’s development by given ages – Requirement of verbal explanations to show mastery – Avoidance of false positives ▪ Lack of emphasis on social and cultural development ▪ Based upon a biased sample

20 Bibliography ▪ Evans, R.L. (1973) Jean Piaget: The Man and His Ideas. E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. New York. ▪ Jean Piaget. (2014). Retrieved Jun. 1, 2014, from ▪ Miller, P.H. (2010). Piaget’s theory: Past, present, and future. Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell. ▪ Presnell, F. (1999). Jean Piaget. Retrieved Jun. 4, 2014 fromhttp://muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/piaget.h tmhttp://muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/piaget.h tm ▪ Smith, L. (2000). A brief biography of Jean Piaget. Retrieved Jun. 4, 2014 from


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