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Cognitive development in adolescence

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1 Cognitive development in adolescence
Constructivist theories Piaget Vygotsky Neo-Piagetian theories R. Case Information processing theories R. Siegler


3 Piaget’s Theory Organismic theory: rooted in biological concepts about the development of organisms. The organism is affected by, and affects, its environment. The cognitive “organism” strives toward equilibrium: a balance between the dual processes of assimilation and accommodation. Development proceeds through a fixed sequence of qualitatively distinct stages. Adolescent thinking is fundamentally different from the thinking abilities of children--not simply more or better.

4 Stages of Cognitive Development
Sensorimotor (birth - 2 years) Preoperational (2-7 years) Concrete (7-11 years) Formal (>11 years) Sensation --> motor behavior Use symbols to represent objects Master logic, develop rational thinking Develop abstract and hypothetical thinking

5 Effects of Adolescent Thought on Personality and Behavior
Idealistic Rebellion Hypocrisy Lack of creativity (due to pressures to conform) Egocentrism Pseudostupidity Daydreaming Self-concept

6 Forms of Egocentric Thinking (lack of subject-object differentiation)
Sensorimotor Preoperational Concrete Formal Unable to differentiate self from objects. Unable to differentiate symbols from their referents. Unable to differentiate thoughts from perceptions Unable to differentiate own thoughts from thoughts of others.

7 Egocentrism in adolescence
Imaginary audience ideation adolescent belief that there is an audience “out there” observing his/her actions Personal fable adolescent belief that s/he is a unique person, invulnerable to harm.

8 Cognitive Changes in Adolescence
Better able to think about what is possible, instead of limiting their thinking to what is real. Better able to think about abstract concepts. Begin thinking more often about the process of thinking itself. Thinking tends to become multidimensional, rather than limited to a single issue. More likely than children to see things as relative, rather than as absolute.

9 Thinking About Possibilities
Imagine four poker chips:one red, one blue, one yellow, and one green. Make as many different combinations of chips, of any number, as you can. Use R, B, Y, & G to record your answers. Adolescents don’t need actual poker chips on hand to work out this problem. They can reason systematically in terms of what is possible. Develop hypothetical (“if-then”) reasoning abilities.

10 Thinking About Abstract Concepts
ANALOGY: Sun: Moon: : Asleep : ? a. Star a. Bed c. Awake d. Night Abstract thinking permits the application of advanced reasoning and logical processes to social and ideological matters: faith, politics, relationships, fairness, honesty, justice, friendships.

11 Thinking About Thinking: Metacognition
Better able to manage and to talk about, and explain, their own thinking. Increased introspection, self-consciousness, and intellectualization. Extreme self-absorption: imaginary audience ideation personal fable

12 Thinking in Multiple Dimensions
Can think about problems in multidimensional ways. What were the causes of the Civil War? Child: “to free the slaves.” Adolescent: “states’ rights; freedom from oppressive central government; slavery…” Able to think about self in others in increasingly differentiated ways: “shy, friendly, honest, ambitious, a little lazy…”

13 Relativistic Thinking
More likely to question others’ assertions and less likely to accept “facts” as absolute truths. Belief that “everything is relative” tends to become overwhelming at times--so much so that adolescents tend to become skeptical about everything!

14 Cognitive Development of the Adolescent: Helpful Hints for Teachers
Challenge students’ thinking by helping them to see things that might not fit with their prior schema; Challenge students to modify old schemas by presenting them with information to form new schemas; Concrete operational thinkers need to see what is being talked about and they need lots of hands-on activities to grasp the concepts; Be aware of students’ readiness and maturity level in dealing with the physical, emotional, and social changes in their lives;

15 Remain flexible in expectations for middle schoolers because each student may be at a different stage of cognitive development; Allow each student to progress at own rate of growth; Plan learning activities that are appropriate for developing effective, concrete thinkers before moving on to more formal operational activities for students. Provide a variety of approaches and examples to students because there are different cognitive levels among students in the classroom.

16 Implications for Teaching
Social interchange is more effective than authoritarian, teacher-centered approaches to instruction. Adolescent students need multiple opportunities to observe, analyze possibilities, and draw inferences about perceived relationships. Discussions, problem-solving activities, and scientific experiments encourage the development of formal thinking and problem-solving skills. Give explicit feedback and encouragement; allow time for reasoning capacities to develop.

17 “The principal goal of education is to create [persons] who are
capable of doing new things--[people] who are creative, inventive, and discoverers. The second goal of education is to form minds which can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything they are offered…We need pupils who are active, who learn early to find out by themselves, partly by their own spontaneous activity and partly through material we set up for them; who learn early to tell what is verifiable and what is simply the first idea to come to them.” -Piaget (1972)

18 Implications for Education
The first prerequisite for educating adolescents is to develop effective modes of communicating with them. The second concept of education important for adolescents is the need to aid them in modifying their existing knowledge, while helping them learn new information. Education must not dull adolescents’ eagerness to learn by overly rigid curricula that disrupt the student’s own rhythm and pace of learning.

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