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4 Tutorials that teach Stages 1 and 2 of Piaget's 4 Stages of Cognitive Development
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Stages 1 and 2 of Piaget's 4 Stages of Cognitive Development

Stages 1 and 2 of Piaget's 4 Stages of Cognitive Development

Description:

This lesson will introduce Piaget's four stages of Cognitive Development. The Sensorimotor & Preoperational stages will be examined.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This tutorial covers cognitive development. You will learn about:

  1. Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
  2. The Sensorimotor Stage
  3. The Preoperational Stage

1. Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

People to Know

Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist in the 1920s who developed a theory about cognitive growth and development. He's one of the most important figures to know in cognitive theory and in psychology in general.

Piaget's studies of children and his interviews with parents were based on these questioning children and having them perform different problem solving tasks. This research led to Piaget's idea of the four stages of growth. Piaget's stages are supposed to be steps. They occur in order, so they're meant to be followed: each child goes through each of these four steps in succession.

This lesson will cover the first two.


2. The Sensorimotor Stage

The first stage in cognitive growth is the sensorimotor stage.

Term to Know

Sensorimotor Stage

Understanding of the world is dependent on sensory and motor interactions (grasping, touching, looking, etc.)

The sensorimotor stage occurs from birth up to two years of age. During this period, children are trying to make sense of the world:

  • They don't have all internal mental constructs, or schemas, that help them to sort information about it.
  • Everything that they know of the world is physical, based on their senses, touching and manipulating things, and their motor skills.

This stage is identified by a lack of object permanence.

Term to Know

Object Permanence

Around 8 months, infants begin to understand that objects continue to exist even if hidden.

IN CONTEXT

At this stage, when you play a game of peekaboo, the child doesn't actually know if you're there anymore when you put the blanket up.

They think you've disappeared completely because you're not in sight!

The sensorimotor stage is divided into six sub-stages that illustrate important aspects of this stage.

1. The first sub-stage is simple reflexes, where a child is only able to use the innate skills and abilities that they were born with, things like sucking, or curling fingers or toes.

2. The second sub stage is primary circular reactions, when a child starts to form ideas and focus on what they can do within their bodies, or their bodily reactions. This is when a child tends to repeat actions.

Example For example, a child might pass their hand over their face over and over to get an idea of what that action is like.

3. The third stage is secondary circular reactions, when children are more outwardly focused on the environment and they start to manipulate toys more.

4. The fourth stage is coordination of reactions, when they start to intentionally do things and to combine those reactions, building on the previous stages.

5. The next stage is tertiary circular reactions, where they start to experiment with new actions to see what the results are.

Example For example, children may start yelling to get attention, to see if that behavior will get the parent to look over at them.

6. The final stage is the internalization of thoughts, where children start to create permanent ideas and schemas, and start to use and react to symbols and language.


3. The Preoperational Stage

Piaget's next stage is the preoperational stage.

Term to Know

Preoperational Stage

Children begin to make very simple mental operations.

The preoperational stage occurs between two and seven years of age. During this time, children start to make their first mental representations of things. These mental representations are very simple in the beginning. There are several important aspects of this stage:

1. A child at this stage isn't able to transform objects, which is to say that they can't mentally change the shape or form of something.

Term to Know

Transformation

Mentally changing an object’s shape or form.

This means that, when children in this stage see something, it's very concrete. They can't imagine what it would look like if you were to move that object around.

2. Children at this age are very intuitive in their thoughts.

Term to Know

Intuitive Thought

Primitive reasoning with logic.

This means that children at this stage don't use logic or reasoning when they're trying to figure something out.

ExampleFor example, children are not able to understand conservation, which means that they aren't able to tell that there is the same amount of something regardless of what's holding it. This is an experiment Piaget did: he took the same amount of liquid and put it in a tall narrow glass and a wide shallow glass. The same amount of liquid in both was seen as being different amounts by children.

3. Children at this age are very egocentric in their thought.

Term to Know

Egocentric Thought

Perceiving things from another’s point of view.

At this stage, children are very centered on their individual and they can't think about others or what others might be thinking at the same time.

ExampleThis means that, for example, children can't draw a picture from someone else's point of view. If you were to ask them, "what do you think mommy sees?" they wouldn't be able to imagine their mother's perspective; they would only show you what they see themselves.


Summary

Piaget's theory of cognitive development contains four stages that children progress through. The first two stages are the sensorimotor stage and the preoperational stage. In each stage, there are particular important aspects of cognitive development that children progress to. This tutorial covers those first two stages, and the other two will have their own tutorial.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Sensorimotor Stage

    Understanding of the world is dependent on sensory and motor interactions (grasping, touching, looking, etc.)

  • Object Permanence

    Around 8 months, infants begin to understand that objects continue to exist even if hidden.

  • Preoperational Stage

    Children begin to make very simple mental operations.

  • Intuitive Thought

    Primitive reasoning with logic.

  • Transformation

    Mentally changing an object’s shape or form.

  • Egocentric Thought

    Perceiving things from another’s point of view.