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Epistemology The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge.

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Presentation on theme: "Epistemology The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge."— Presentation transcript:

1 Epistemology The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge.

2 Epistemology The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge. Epistemology primarily addresses the following questions: "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", and "What do people know?

3 Jean Piaget called his theory of learning genetic epistemology.

4 Empiricists argue that knowledge results from an accumulation of experience,

5 whereas nativists believe that the organism is born with an innate set of ideas that form the basis of knowledge.

6 Piaget was highly critical of empiricism, but he was not particularly comfortable in presuming that knowledge is entirely innate (the nativist position).

7 Instead he had a view consistent with interpretivism that suggested a compromise between nativism and empiricism.

8 He labeled his view interactionalism, since cognition was assumed to be an interaction between heredity and environment.

9 Piaget also called his view constructivism because he firmly believed that knowledge acquisition is a process of continuous self-construction.

10 Piaget also called his view constructivism because he firmly believed that knowledge acquisition is a process of continuous self-construction. That is, knowledge is not out there, external to the child and waiting to be discovered.

11 But neither is it wholly performed within the child, ready to emerge as the child develops.

12 But neither is it wholly performed within the child, ready to emerge as the child develops. Instead, knowledge is invented and reinvented as the child develops and interacts with the world surrounding her.

13 Piaget believed that children actively approach their environments and acquire knowledge through their actions. The actions are neither random nor aimless. Very young infants immediately suck upon any object place in their mouths.

14 And they mouth objects as a way to learn about their worlds. Piaget called these goal directed behaviors schemes and contended that schemes evolve as children develop.

15 Piaget distinguished among three types of knowledge that children acquire: physical, logical-mathematical, and social learning.

16 Physical knowledge also called empirical knowledge,

17 has to do with knowledge about objects in the world, Physical knowledge also called empirical knowledge,

18 has to do with knowledge about objects in the world, which can be gained through their perceptual properties. Physical knowledge also called empirical knowledge,

19 Blocks are solid and cube-shaped and come in different colors and sizes.

20 Children acquire knowledge about the properties of blocks by seeing and handling the blocks.

21 Logical-mathematical knowledge

22 Logical-mathematical knowledge is abstract and must be invented, but through actions on objects that are fundamentally different from actions enabling physical knowledge.

23 The abstract character of logical-mathematical knowledge gives it an advantage over physical knowledge in its greater range of application.

24 The abstract character of logical-mathematical knowledge gives it an advantage over physical knowledge in its greater range of application. Physical knowledge of blocks, for instance, can be extended only to other blocks, but conservation of number applies to blocks, pennies, people, or what have you.

25 The cognitive result, therefore, of schemes enabling the invention of logical-mathematical knowledge is a coherent set of mental operations. These operations exist within relational structures or networks of operations that are considered to be the highest order mental organizations (also called schemata).

26 culture-specific Social Learning

27 culture-specific Social Learning In acknowledging the social aspect of children’s development, he distinguished a third type of knowledge. Social knowledge is culture-specific and can be learned only from other people within one’s cultural group.

28 culture-specific Social Learning In acknowledging the social aspect of children’s development, he distinguished a third type of knowledge. Social knowledge is culture-specific and can be learned only from other people within one’s cultural group. Actions again hold the key to the acquisition of this kind of knowledge—that is, actions on, or interactions with, other people.

29 The Stages of Development

30 The concept of stage has already been implicated in the discussion of physical versus logical-mathematical knowledge.

31 The concept of stage has already been implicated in the discussion of physical versus logical-mathematical knowledge. Knowledge about blocks precedes a child’s ability to reason or solve problems using blocks.

32 The concept of stage has already been implicated in the discussion of physical versus logical-mathematical knowledge. Knowledge about blocks precedes a child’s ability to reason or solve problems using blocks. Thus, reasoning is evidence of a later stage in development.

33 Piaget believed that children progress through an invariant sequence of four stages.

34 1.Each stage must represent a qualitative change in children’s cognition.

35 2.Children progress through the stages in a culturally invariant sequence.

36 3.Each stage includes the cognitive structures and abilities of the preceding stage.

37 4. At each stage, the child’s schemes and operations form an integrated whole.

38 4. At each stage, the child’s schemes and operations form an integrated whole. What schemes a child employs to explore her world depend upon her stage of development.

39 4. At each stage, the child’s schemes and operations form an integrated whole. What schemes a child employs to explore her world depend upon her stage of development. If children are in different stages,

40 4. At each stage, the child’s schemes and operations form an integrated whole. What schemes a child employs to explore her world depend upon her stage of development. If children are in different stages, they would each employ different schemes

41 4. At each stage, the child’s schemes and operations form an integrated whole. What schemes a child employs to explore her world depend upon her stage of development. If children are in different stages, they would each employ different schemes and exhibit different cognitive capabilities.

42 The Sensorimotor Period (Birth to 2 years) Newborns come into the world with a variety of innate reflexes (e.g., sucking, reacting to noises, focusing on objects within their view).

43 With a short time, they begin to modify these reflexes to make them more adaptive (e.g., sucking a finger becomes a different action from sucking a nipple).

44 Initially, infants’ actions are directed primarily at their own bodies, but they increasingly center on the external world. In addition, infant’s behavior begins to reflect clear, goals, and these goals progress from concrete to abstract.

45 Piaget (1951) described his son deliberately dropping objects (a concrete goal) and then varying the heights from which he dropped them (an abstract goal).

46 Toward the end of the sensorimotor period, children begin to mentally represent objects and events.

47 Piaget (1951) described his daughter Lucienne, for example, playing with a partly open matchbox in which a watch chain had been placed. Apparently aware of what the opening represented and wanting it to become wider, Lucienne opened her mouth wider and wider.

48 The Preoperational Period (2 to 7 years) Early in the preoperational period, children acquire what Piaget called the semiotic function.

49 The Preoperational Period (2 to 7 years) Early in the preoperational period, children acquire what Piaget called the semiotic function. This means they are able to mentally represent objects and events, as evidence in their imitation of some activity long after it occurred.

50 Pretending, or symbolic play, is highly characteristic of this stage,

51 Pretending, or symbolic play, is highly characteristic of this stage, and language acquisition proceeds rapidly.

52 Also characteristic of preoperational intelligence are children’s egocentrism and centration, which are thought to place limits on their thinking.

53 Also characteristic of preoperational intelligence are children’s egocentrism and centration, which are thought to place limits on their thinking. First, preoperational children have difficulty in seeing points of view other than their own.

54 A conversation between two preschoolers sounds less like a conversation than like two monologues. Children typically talk past another rather than to one another.

55 This egocentrism is also evident in children’s inability to mentally rotate spatial arrangements in order to identify a different perspective.

56 As for centration, preoperational children focus solely on one dimension of a problem.

57 Children overcome the limitations of egocentrism and centration when they enter the stage of concrete operations. The Concrete Operational Period (7 to 11 years)

58 Children overcome the limitations of egocentrism and centration when they enter the stage of concrete operations. The Concrete Operational Period (7 to 11 years) It is at this stage that they demonstrate logically integrated thought.

59 Through actions that have become increasingly internalized, Conservation

60 Through actions that have become increasingly internalized, they invent logical-mathematical knowledge Conservation

61 Through actions that have become increasingly internalized, they invent logical-mathematical knowledge resulting in operations. Conservation

62 Operations are reversible and maintain some invariant property through a series of transformations.

63 Despite their ability to solve many different kinds of problems, concrete operational children still cannot think hypothetically. They have difficulty thinking about and discussing possible answers to the question. “If people could know the future, would they be happier than they are not”

64 The Formal Operations Period (11 Years Onward)

65 Propositional logic is the hallmark of formal operations.

66 The Formal Operations Period (11 Years Onward) Propositional logic is the hallmark of formal operations. Operations become more abstract so that the individual can reason, not just with objects, but with formally stated premises or propositions.

67 The Formal Operations Period (11 Years Onward) Propositional logic is the hallmark of formal operations. Operations become more abstract so that the individual can reason, not just with objects, but with formally stated premises or propositions. This enables children not only to think hypothetically,

68 The Formal Operations Period (11 Years Onward) Propositional logic is the hallmark of formal operations. Operations become more abstract so that the individual can reason, not just with objects, but with formally stated premises or propositions. This enables children not only to think hypothetically, but to plan a systematic approach to solving problems.

69 Piaget presented children and adolescents with a chemistry problem in which they were to mix clear liquid chemicals from four beakers until they achieved a yellow color.

70 Concrete operational children were rather random in their approach to the problem, sometimes repeating combinations of chemicals they had tried before.

71 In addition, they typically combined only two chemicals at a time, or all four, without considering combinations of three. By contrast, formal operational adolescents generated a systematic plan of testing chemical combinations until they found the solution.

72 Finally, the ability to imagine possibilities above and beyond current reality is characteristic of formal operational reasoners.

73 The Processes of Development

74 If Piaget’s description of stages answers the question of psychological states children pass through in development,

75 what mechanism did he propose as responsible for children’s progression from

76 If Piaget’s description of stages answers the question of psychological states children pass through in development, what mechanism did he propose as responsible for children’s progression from one stage to the next.

77 In essence, he considered three processes as being critical to development:

78 assimilation,

79 In essence, he considered three processes as being critical to development: assimilation, accommodation, &

80 In essence, he considered three processes as being critical to development: assimilation, accommodation, & equilibration.

81 Assimilation. Assimilation occurs when a child perceives new objects or events in terms of existing schemes or operations.

82 Consider once again the infant who puts things in his mouth.

83 Assimilation. Assimilation occurs when a child perceives new objects or events in terms of existing schemes or operations. Consider once again the infant who puts things in his mouth. This scheme, and others such as grasping, throwing, or shaking, are means of assimilating information about the object.

84 Children and adults alike tend to apply any mental structure that is available to assimilate a new event, and they will actively seek to use a newly acquired structure.

85 Children learning to talk, for example, have been observed to talk endlessly to themselves,

86 Children and adults alike tend to apply any mental structure that is available to assimilate a new event, and they will actively seek to use a newly acquired structure. Children learning to talk, for example, have been observed to talk endlessly to themselves, whether or not anyone else is there to listen.

87 Even adults who have learned a new skill (such as how to use a word processor) will seek to apply their knowledge in as many situations as possible.

88 Accommodation When existing schemes or operations must be modified to account for a new experience, accommodation has occurred.

89 Obviously, accommodation influences assimilation and vice-versa.

90 An adequate attempt to assimilate some new event into existing schemes of operations may result in

91 Obviously, accommodation influences assimilation and vice-versa. An adequate attempt to assimilate some new event into existing schemes of operations may result in some adjustment of those schemes or operations thus accommodating the event.

92 Such accommodation, however, affects subsequent assimilation, which will not proceed in accord with the new structure.

93 Equilibration

94 Equilibration is the master developmental process, encompassing both assimilation and accommodation.

95 Equilibration Equilibration is the master developmental process, encompassing both assimilation and accommodation. Equilibration particularly characterizes the child’s transition from one stage of development to the next.

96 Within each stage, children operate from a set of logical structures that, for their purposes, work quite well, but toward the end of a stage,

97 Within each stage, children operate from a set of logical structures that, for their purposes, work quite well, but toward the end of a stage, they may become aware of

98 Within each stage, children operate from a set of logical structures that, for their purposes, work quite well, but toward the end of a stage, they may become aware of shortcomings in their way of thinking.

99 Anomalies of experience create a state of disequilibrium which can only be resolved when a more adaptive, more sophisticated mode of thought is adopted.

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121 Criticisms of Genetic Epistemology

122 Claim 1: the Sequence of Stages is Invariant.

123 Piaget believed that all children,

124 Piaget believed that all children, regardless of culture,

125 Piaget believed that all children, regardless of culture, progress through the four stages of sensorimotor to formal operations.

126 Moreover, once a particular stage is reached, regression to a earlier stage cannot occur, and all children are expected to eventually reach formal operations.

127 However, the age at which children reached certain stages varied from culture to culture and reaching formal operations was by no means assured.

128 Claim 2. The Stages Represent Qualitative Changes in Cognition.

129 This claim carries two implication: (1) that development is discontinuous

130 This claim carries two implication: (1) that development is discontinuous and (2) that reasoning on different problems is consistent within a given stage.

131 Whether the cognitive changes that occur during development are continuous or discontinuous is difficult to judge.

132 The analogy of a bridge collapsing suggests that development might be reasonably viewed as either continuous or discontinuous.

133 The analogy of a bridge collapsing suggests that development might be reasonably viewed as either continuous or discontinuous. The forces that cause a bridge to give way, for example, build up over a long period of time.

134 But the collapse itself is sudden.

135 But the collapse itself is sudden. Perhaps, then, what appear to be sudden changes in children’s thinking are actually part of a gradual progression.

136 Studies attempting to train children on Piagetian tasks have shown that

137 Studies attempting to train children on Piagetian tasks have shown that children can learn more than Piaget thought they could.

138 Children should learn to solve, at the same time, a variety of problems that share a dependence on the logical structures developed during that stage.

139 However it is increasingly apparent that

140 Children should learn to solve, at the same time, a variety of problems that share a dependence on the logical structures developed during that stage. However it is increasingly apparent that this view does not accurately characterize children’s thinking.

141 To confound the issue, researchers using non- Piagetian tasks have discovered that

142 To confound the issue, researchers using non- Piagetian tasks have discovered that children sometimes demonstrate unsuspected cognitive strengths.

143 Claim 3 Children Exhibit the Characteristics of Each Stage Do children consistently behave in these ways? The answer is somewhat mixed.

144 With respect to egocentrism in preoperational children,

145 With respect to egocentrism in preoperational children, Piaget’s work records a deep insight:

146 With respect to egocentrism in preoperational children, Piaget’s work records a deep insight: for every task where point of view is an issue,

147 With respect to egocentrism in preoperational children, Piaget’s work records a deep insight: for every task where point of view is an issue, one can find an age such that children younger than that age usually err by failing to see the other person’s viewpoint.

148 This suggests that children are egocentric,

149 This suggests that children are egocentric, but the nature of the task

150 This suggests that children are egocentric, but the nature of the task rather than the stage of development appears to be the critical factor determining when they are egocentric.

151 Children well beyond the preoperational period continue to be at risk for egocentrism in particular types of tasks.

152 Preoperational children are not egocentric all the time.

153 Preoperational children are not egocentric all the time. In some situations they will communicate nonegocentrically.

154 If you ask 3-year olds to show you their drawings,

155 Preoperational children are not egocentric all the time. In some situations they will communicate nonegocentrically. If you ask 3-year olds to show you their drawings, they hold the side with the artwork toward you.

156 Preoperational children are not egocentric all the time. In some situations they will communicate nonegocentrically. If you ask 3-year olds to show you their drawings, they hold the side with the artwork toward you. if they were completely egocentric, they would do the opposite, since they would assume that what they see is what you see.

157 Claim 4. Global Restructuring Characterizes the Shift from Stage to Stage.

158 In part, this claim results from Piaget’s requirement that stages represent qualitative changes in children’s cognition.

159 In part, this claim results from Piaget’s requirement that stages represent qualitative changes in children’s cognition. But more that that,

160 In part, this claim results from Piaget’s requirement that stages represent qualitative changes in children’s cognition. But more that that, for children to make the transition between stages, cognitive restructuring

161 (i.e., accommodation in response to disequilibrium) must occur.

162 Carey called this global restructuring

163 Carey called this global restructuring since it is assumed, in Piaget’s theory, to constrain children’s ability to acquire knowledge in all domains.

164 Carey called this global restructuring since it is assumed, in Piaget’s theory, to constrain children’s ability to acquire knowledge in all domains. But Carey showed that children

165 Carey called this global restructuring since it is assumed, in Piaget’s theory, to constrain children’s ability to acquire knowledge in all domains. But Carey showed that children knew more than the theory predicted.

166 Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was certainly ground-breaking in its recognition that children are not just mini-adults. Children learn differently than adults do.

167 Beyond Piaget: Alternative Perspectives on Cognitive Development

168 Children think about any particular topic in only one way at most points in development.

169 A major goal of developmental theory should be identifying the way of thinking used by children at particular ages.

170 What makes the alternative theories different from Piaget’s is an additional assumption that thinking is information processing.

171 Thus, researchers from this perspective focus on “the information that children represent, the processes they use to transform the information, and the memory limits that constrain the amount of information they can represent and process.


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