Sample Essay on Important contributions of Swiss scholar Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980)

Instructor-Notes B Questions

Important contributions of Swiss scholar Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980)

Question 1

Swiss scholar Jean Piaget based most of his basic cognitive concept on observation of his own three children. He achieved this by writing down details of all their activities during the development stages. The procedure is not popular in the systematic study of child development because it looks unscientific. On the same note, many scholars find it difficult to understand such study method, in terms of how comprehensive the details are.

Question 2

Piaget trained in biological sciences and not psychology; however, this training background helped him in developing his basic cognitive concept. Most importantly, the biological training helps in the interpretation of cognition as the kind of adaptation to the environment. According to him, environment plays an important role in shaping up the cognitive ability of a developing child. It simply means that adaptation to a given habitat can influence cognitive development of children. For this reason, cognitive equilibrium is something that heavily depends on the environment within which a child inhabits. This also explains his assertion that cognitive development never ends as long as a person is alive.

Best Known Piagetian Concepts

Question 1

According to him, classification of cognitive development is based on the highest cognitive ability a person shows (cognitive competence) rather than cognitive performance where assessment is made out of the total number of the abilities at a particular stage. This means that the highest ability is an important indicator than   many abilities that a person may show. It is more about competence than the number of achievements.

Question 2

Piaget’s stages of formal operations may not apply to all individuals across different cultures because they are taken as generalizations. The ages attached to Piaget’s stages can be regarded only as approximations; in fact, he recognized that normal children might pass through these stages earlier or later than the approximate ages. Age schedules do differ across cultures, meaning that a child in a given culture may exhibit certain cognitive characters earlier or later in life. Moreover, research shows that environment may influence cognitive ability; however, nature provides a limitation to this. This means that the general application of Piaget’s theory is limited by  different environmental factors as well as nature.

Question 3

The distinction between concrete and formal operational reasoning influences the types of learning experiences that teachers provide students. The teacher should be able to understand the stages that an individual child passes and apply an appropriate reasoning influence. For instance, in concrete operational stage, a teacher may use logic in explaining something logical that is connected to certain physical characteristic like objects or events. However, the teacher is able to understand that formal operational stage is where a child’s mind starts to comprehend mental manipulation in terms of understanding concepts and ideas. The learning experience during the operational reasoning should be modeled in a way to influence a child’s thinking on physical and social sciences.

Question 4

Schemes and operations are important concepts during child development. They are alike and different in a number of ways. Similar thoughts or actions make up a scheme, most of which were behavioral in nature in the past. On the other hand, subsumes of several schemes make an operation. This means that both schemes and operations can be used to describe the logical operations or development of a child. Whereas schemes are important, they fail to give the logical thought as operations do. For instance, an operation entails the use of more than one-dimensional thought to give description. It uses more than one scheme like height plus width in order to advance the cause-effect relationship in a number of external events.

Question 5

Individuals do attempt to assimilate unfamiliar aspects in an attempt to try fitting the new experience and making interpretation in light with the existing concepts. When this happens, a person may experience conflict between an existing concept verses the new one and any interpretations are made depending on such concepts. Accommodation is important because it helps in adjusting an existing or creating a new conceptual category, something that facilitates cognitive growth. During accommodation, a person accepts a new concept as it is, irrespective of the existing concepts. Optimal ratio of accommodation versus assimilation across learning experiences should be equal because the concept is important; however, accommodation plays a major role in development because it opens the door for development of new concepts.

Question 6

Both assimilation and accommodation help in the equilibration. Equilibration is a process that entails movement from equilibrium to disequilibrium and back to equilibrium. Assimilation is important in the equilibrium stage because it helps in ensuring that a person becomes at peace with the concepts in place. At this stage, no other concepts are adopted. However, accommodation plays a role in the disequilibrium stage. The disequilibrium appears because a person allows new concepts in order to come up with other concepts. The two processes are required throughout one’s life because cognitive alignment can only be re-established by replacing or redefining schemes that no longer work (accommodation), after things come back to normal (assimilation).

Question 7

Various interactions of children with the environment help facilitate the natural development of conservation in them. In conservation, the children start to understand that quantities remain the same despite the changes in the physical appearance. On this note, conservation benchmarks the beginning of concrete operational period.

Question 8

Circle vs. Ellipse is an important analogy on conservation. Piaget shows that a child is able to prove that a circle and an eclipse is the same. For instance, this is the stage where children begin to understand that quantity of matter is the same, what changes is the shape. This rationale is a sure indicator of cognitive development in a child.

Question 9

Learning activities provided by teachers who embrace Piaget’s model demonstrate the differences that may occur during learning verses actual theory indicators. Piaget’s theory of learning seems to underestimate the cognitive skills of children because object permanence and some of the symbolic thought do occur earlier than what his theory indicates.

 

 

Benchmarks of Brain Development (pp. 3 – 5, Slides 8 – 12)

Question 1

Injuries to primary sensory and motor areas in the brain may affect physical and psychological functioning. Primary sensory areas are important in a child’s development and injuries to them may lead to the damage of all sensory capabilities like thought, sight and hearing. On the same note, association does give meaning with respect to different senses. Damage on the motor areas would seriously affect speech association development of a child.

Question 2

Brains produce more synapses between birth and the age of three because of the increased electrical activities by the brain that help in shaping up behavior and its physical structure. This is important because it helps in the shape up of the brain as the child develops other cognitive aspects during growth. The brain is under formation within this period and the synapses help in ensuring that all necessary electrical activities are in place.

Question 2

Normal brain development requires lots of input; however, some of the inputs may either help in the process or threaten the same development. The most important threat to the brain development is prenatal in nature. For instance, maternal malnutrition, drug abuse, and viral infection during pregnancy can seriously affect brain development of a child. The second threat is postnatal and is characterized by lack of social stimulation and emotional trauma. For instance, a child who rarely plays or who witnesses some traumatic events may have smaller brains.

Question 3

Abuse and deprivation makes a greater difference than environmental because this is the stage of brain development. The child’s brain requires twice the energy as an adult’s brain. In effect, deprivation of  essential requirements leads to less development. Children who experience environmental deprivation or abuse often have smaller and less-developed brains, something that later affects their cognitive abilities. Environmental enrichment has very little effects on the brain development, something supported by research.

Preschool Programs for At-risk Children (pp. 5 & 6)

Question 1

The US government has continued to support Head Start Program in various ways. Head Start Program has been important because it is a child-centered experimental plan that gives effective indicators in areas like health and social. It has helped in achieving higher short-term math and reading scores. On the same note, children who benefit from Head Start Program are likely not to undergo special education in the primary grades. However, the performance of the eighth grader who participated in this program is not better than the one who never went through the one-year program. Some arguments note that some of the indicators do not support much of the academics.

Question 2

The government and the society have intensified their efforts towards prenatal and postnatal services in at-risk areas. Prenatal and postnatal development are important and funding programs that promote such efforts help in equipping mothers and caregivers with the knowledge to understand the needs of the children as they grow up. Research shows that prenatal behaviors by at-risk mothers like drug abuse seriously affect brain development of children in later days. On the same note, postnatal services are needed in order to direct brain development at the kindergarten stages

 

Question 3

The society can determine how a child will be nurtured and educated because of the effect brought about by lack of education and nurturing. It cost more to deal with intellectual and emotional impairments resulting from lack of proper preschool education. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the society to deal with some of the potential social programs before they begin. This is a matter of saving the available resources by putting in place appropriate educational programs.

Nature and Utility of IQ Tests (pp. 6 – 8, Slide 13)

Question 1

There is a distinction between what IQ tests and achievement tests measure. IQ tests mainly measure memory and analytical skills such as the general knowledge and the vocabulary that most people have presumably encountered in their everyday life. On the other hand, achievement tests measure recent achievement in domain-specific areas like science, reading, and math. Achievement tests give useful information because of the ability to show innate creativity in a child. The outcome of the test gives enough indicators of the progress on cognitive development of a child. IQ test, on the other hand, seems to be narrow in its measurement range.

Question 2

Verbal IQ subtests predict academic achievement better than performance IQ subtests. This success is based on the differences in subsets between the two systems. Verbal IQ subtests used in the prediction like information, similarities and vocabulary seem to show more of the cognitive development. However, performance IQ tests use subtests like picture completion, picture arrangement and block design in order to measure cognitive development.

 

Question 3

Research shows that hereditary factors greatly influence IQ scores. For instance, adopted children’s IQs are more similar to their natural parents’ IQs than to adoptive parents’ IQs, with the similarity to the natural parents’ IQ scores increasing with age. Identical twins reared apart have more similar IQs than fraternal twins reared together. Heredity is likely to have a greater effect on how children develop intellectually in an intellectually stimulating environment than in an extremely deprived environment. Intellectually stimulating environment can influence IQ; however, it seems to be a very slow process.
Question 4

IQ score can indicate areas that a child is best at as well as those areas that need special attention. Therefore, the child should consider some of the strong points in order to develop them to improve the quality of life. IQ score indicates how a person can use the brain to develop ideas that can improve his/her life and an organization.

Question 5

IQ tests are helpful to educators in serving the intellectual needs of children. Educators can easily use IQ tests to find out areas that need special attention. With such information, it would be easier to concentrate on certain aspects of development that are still low. However, curriculum-based assessment (CBA) may be more useful than IQ tests because it identifies a student’s current skills and indicates what skills to teach next. Skill instruction is usually ordered hierarchically from basic skills to more advanced skills.

Question 6

Research shows that many children in at-risk areas in America need special care. Various tests have been used in order to find out such cases. IQ tests like WISC IV and Stanford-Binet have been the most widely used individual intelligence tests in identifying children needing special education services.

Assessment and Promotion of Creativity (pp. 8 & 9)

Question 1

Determining creativity scores is more important than the IQ because creativity scores determine the ability to generate alternatives for solving a problem before identifying the best alternative. IQ scores are narrower in the outcomes and may only indicate specific issues at hand.

Question 2

Originality and relevancy are essential towards promoting students’ creativity. However, the balance between the two is required. The teacher should consider all answers with respect to the question in place. Balance is required because what initially seems bizarre to the teacher may eventually prove quite relevant.

Question 3

Teaching is one of the long time methods used for influencing knowledge. Teaching information helps the teacher to assess creativity through a product, such as a painting, a poem, problem solution, or set of unusual uses for common objects. It is a direct method that a teacher exploits while interacting with children face to face.

Question 4

Yes. It may show the amount of contributions an individual can make towards achieving organizational goals as a team player. This is a way of enhancing creativity of other persons within the group. At the same time, it works to boost self-esteem of weaker group members.

Assessment and Promotion of Critical Thinking (pp. 9-11, Slides 14-18)

Question 1

Critical thinking and creativity are distinct aspects of cognitive potential. Critical thinking involves skills in gathering information regarding a particular question and then using that information to determine the most supportable answer to the target question or to determine if more information is necessary to reach a definitive answer. Critical thinking is the process of reaching defensible conclusions from available evidence, whereas creativity measures people’s ability to generate alternative and novel ways of responding. They complement each other because critical thinking leads to creative ideas.

Question 2

They all complement each other. Each of them has its own parameters that can be used to indicate cognitive ability of a child.

Question 3

Disposition to think critically is important because it entails a healthy skepticism, the tendency to question the given, to probe assumptions and biases, to express dissident views, to consider opposing views, to accurately represent opposing views, to revise one’s thinking, and to engage in reflective decision making. The quality of the evidence to some degree controls the quality of the conclusions: bad evidence usually leads to bad conclusions.

Question 4

As much as students’ disposition and  ability to think critically are both important, it would be easier to upgrade students’ disposition to think critically. This is so because disposition to think critically helps in coming up with facts and different possibilities, a prerequisite towards making the best conclusions on different issues at hand. Environment does influence critical thinking or IQ, for instance, personal experiences and mass media bring negative effect, while exposure to research and other academic materials in line with the subject matter enhance critical thinking and creativity.

Question 5

Domain-specific critical thinking would be the better predictor of performance in a subject area than generic critical thinking because it helps in the production of divergent thinking to find the best solutions. Generic critical thinking does not allow for the diverse ideas that may lead to proper conclusion in a given subject matter.

Question 6

High critical thinkers are more likely than low critical-thinkers to attribute their evaluation of specific course notions to professional sources of information (e.g., college courses, published research, and recognized authorities). In contrast, low critical thinkers are more likely than high critical-thinkers to attribute their evaluation of course notions to personal experiences, acquaintances, and mass media.

Question 7

Including critical thinking issues in practice exams plays an important role as a predictor of performance. However, there is need for instructional program to be designed to directly teach critical thinking skills; otherwise, individual college courses may negligibly improve students’ critical thinking skills.

Question 8

High performing critical thinkers are better at practice and exhibit interest at the task. They are better note takers and attend all sessions than the low performing critical thinkers.

 

Question 9

High critical thinkers attribute their evaluation of specific course notions to professional sources of information (e.g., college courses, published research, and recognized authorities). In contrast, low critical thinkers are more likely to attribute their evaluation of course notions to personal experiences, acquaintances and mass media.

Question 10

The teacher should create an atmosphere of questioning in which students must synthesize subject matter to answer questions requiring inference and deduction.

Nature of learning disabilities and instructional accommodations (pp. 11 – 13)

Question 1

Pros: the model has the ability to show achievement in a particular area. For instance, it clearly measures reading and math. It also measures IQ scores.

Cons: many researchers in the field think that this approach of diagnosing learning disabilities lacks empirical support.

Question 2

The instructional needs are not that different for high-IQ students who perform poorly in a particular academic area and low-IQ students who perform poorly in the same academic area. For example, poor readers with or without a high IQ appear to have similar reading deficits.

Models for promoting reading and related cognitive skills – whole-language (contextual) versus direct-instruction (decontextualize) approach (pp. 13 – 16, Slides 19 – 22)

Question 1

Reading problems involve omitting words, adding words, substituting words, reversing letters or words, mispronouncing words, and not recalling what was read. Contrary to long-held beliefs about the relationship between gender and dyslexia, dyslexia affects boys and girls equally. Weakness in phonemic awareness is the strongest and most specific predictor of reading disabilities. An average high school student with a reading disability reads at a third- to fifth-grade level.

Question 2

I agree to a higher extent because recognition of specific words should be inferred from the context. Language skills are best learned in a social context largely based on personal relevance rather than on extrinsic rewards.

Question 3

Scientific method is still important in capturing indicators that give credibility and long-term relevance to the effect of the whole language approach. Criticism of the scientific method does not work well.

Question 4

Whole language entails learning language skills in the context of real-world reading, writing, and speaking experiences while Phonics is the principal direct-instruction approach used in teaching  reading skills.

Question 5

No. Blending of whole language and phonetical instruction would work better than the approach used exclusively, promoting both word attack skills, as well as a love of reading.

Question 6

Task analysis helps in breaking down tasks into simpler components called subtasks.  Usually the subtasks are presented in a hierarchy, indicating the order in which sub-skills should be taught. Curriculum-based assessment determines, specifically, what a child can or cannot do in the performance of a larger task. Drill and practice helps children to develop skills by practicing in isolation. Criterion-referenced evaluation helps in evaluating individual mastery skills within a group. Feedback helps if getting the information is showing progress.

Question 7

They both help in differentiating sounds in words; the letter representation of the sounds would be largely ineffectual with the use of both.

Question 8

Direct instruction has become more important because it has shown consistently positive effects in all academic areas, including basic skills (word attack, math computation) and higher-order cognitive skills (comprehension, critical thinking).