Piaget’s theory of cognitive development

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January 12, 2021
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January 12, 2021

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development

Your textbook discusses some of the issues related to using children as witnesses in court cases.  There have been many studies done relating to the unreliability of eyewitness testimony in both children and adults.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there was a series of court cases related to alleged multi-victim, multi-offender sexual and ritual abuse in day care centers across the country (the McMartin and Little Rascals cases being perhaps the most publicized). 

Please click on the two (2) links below and carefully read the articles:

Please post thoroughly thought through answers to the questions below on the Discussion Forum for the week. 

1. How do you think that investigators and therapists, in their quest to find the truth, may have contributed to children making false or exaggerated allegations in these cases?

2.  What implications do these types of cases have for people who run childcare centers?

3.   What are the lessons learned from these cases? 

4.   How should investigators and therapists proceed when a child or their parent makes such    allegations?

5.  How can the investigators and therapists obtain the information they need without manipulating the child’s memory, even if inadvertently.


Cognitive Development

Topics to be covered include:
● Piaget’s theory of cognitive development
● Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of cognitive development
● The information-processing perspective of cognitive development


This lesson will look at three theories on cognitive development. The first theory we will discuss is Piaget’s. Piaget believed that children actively construct their development by adapting their existing knowledge to new situations. We will look at how this unfolds in Piaget’s four stages of development. We will then look at quite a different aspect of cognitive development in the second theory by Vygotsky. Vygotsky believed that cognitive development is mediated by sociocultural factors, and that the zone of proximal development refers to what children can achieve with and without help. The third theory we will look at is information-processing. Information-processing compares our minds to computers, and concentrates on cognitive processes, memory, reasoning and problem-solving. Finally, we will look at how our minds differ from computers because of our awareness of what we know and how we know – an awareness known as metacognition.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Photograph Jean Piaget at the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.


In the first lesson, we briefly touched on Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Piaget’s work on cognitive development began when he was working on IQ tests for children. He noticed that children of the same age got the same questions wrong, and that the answers of different age groups differed systematically from one another. Piaget then began studying cognitive development by giving young children problems to solve, and observing their behavior as they tried to solve these problems, and by giving older children problems to solve, and asking them to explain their thinking processes.

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