What is meant by cognitive development? Describe four stages of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development in detail? (2+8)
Q.2 Idea Solution
Cognitive Development Definition
Cognitive development is the study of childhood neurological and psychological development. Specifically, cognitive development is assessed based on the level of conception, perception, information processing, and language as an indicator of brain development. It is generally recognized that cognitive development progresses with age, as human awareness and understanding of the world increases from infancy to childhood, and then again into adolescence. The process of cognitive development was first described by Jean Piaget, in his Theory of Cognitive Development.
Piaget’s four stages
Piaget’s stages are age-specific and marked by important characteristics of thought processes. They also include goals children should achieve as they move through a given stage.
Stage Age Characteristics Goal
Sensorimotor Birth to 18–24 months old Motor activity without use of symbols. All things learned are based on experiences, or trial and error. Object permanence
Preoperational 2 to 7 years old Development of language, memory, and imagination. Intelligence is both egocentric and intuitive. Symbolic thought
Concrete operational 7 to 11 years old More logical and methodical manipulation of symbols. Less egocentric, and more aware of the outside world and events. Operational thought
Formal operational Adolescence to adulthood Use of symbols to relate to abstract concepts. Able to make hypotheses and grasp abstract concepts and relationships. Abstract concepts
The sensorimotor stage covers children ages birth to 18–24 months old. Characteristics include motor activity without use of symbols. All things learned are based on experiences, or trial and error.
The main goal at this stage is establishing an understanding of object permanence — in other words, knowing that an object still exists even if you can’t see it or it’s hidden.
The preoperational stage can be seen in children ages 2 through 7. Memory and imagination are developing. Children at this age are egocentric, which means they have difficulty thinking outside of their own viewpoints.
The main achievement of this stage is being able to attach meaning to objects with language. It’s thinking about things symbolically. Symbolic thought is a type of thinking where a word or object is used to represent something other than itself.
Children are much less egocentric in the concrete operational stage. It falls between the ages of 7 to 11 years old and is marked by more logical and methodical manipulation of symbols.
The main goal at this stage is for a child to start working things out inside their head. This is called operational thought, and it allows kids to solve problems without physically encountering things in the real world.
Children 11 years old and older fall into Piaget’s formal operational stage. A milestone of this period is using symbols to understand abstract concepts. Not only that, but older kids and adults can also think about multiple variables and come up with hypotheses based on previous knowledge.
Piaget believed that people of all ages developed intellectually. But he also believed that once a person reaches the formal operational stage, it’s more about building upon knowledge, not changing how it’s acquired or understood.