Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development
Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980) is widely acknowledged as the theorist who has had the greatest impact on research and theory in the field of child development. Piaget began working in developmental psychology in the 1920s, but it was not until the 1960s that his work garnered much attention as it became increasingly available. Paget’s research was largely at odds with the behaviorist tradition, which was dominant in North America until the 1960s (Bower, 1985).
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Unlike the behaviorists of the day, he did not view the child as a passive recipient of knowledge whose development is the product of reinforcement or punishment, but rather, as an active participant in the creation of their own understanding. A central concept in Piagetian theory is the idea that our cognitive structures are adaptations that help ensure that our knowledge provides a good ‘fit’ to the world. Piaget viewed human intelligence as an adaptation which ultimately enhanced our chances of survival. Piaget viewed children’s cognitive development as a process through four stages.
By a stage, Piaget meant a period of development that is characterized by knowledge structures that are qualitatively similar and lead to distinctive modes of thought. In the sensorimotor stage of development, for example, lasting from birth to about two years of age, the infant thinks about the world through their actions on it (Bower, 1985). Essentially, Piaget’s theory has proven extremely influential to the study of children’s cognitive development. This theory has made major contributions to the line of child education. It is worth noting that despite the fact that Piaget did not focus on education, developmental psychologists argue that this has a major impact on the education process of the child (Weiner & Craighead, 2010).
Many learning and educational programs are inclined towards the theory. Instructional methods have been derived from this theory. For instance, the basics in the teaching and learning process have a great bearing on this theory. Issues such as the provision of a conducive environment and helping children who might not be achieving their goals and targets are examples of the contributions that this theory has brought to the fore.
Robert C. Bolles’ theory of motivation
Robert C. Bolles’ theory of motivation presents a highly scientific analysis of the concept of motivation. Boyles formulated a cognitive theory to predict organism behavior. Essentially according to him, there are three kinds of events about which an organism can learn (Weiner & Craighead, 2010). The first two sound familiar enough: a stimulus that serves as a cue and a response the third, which refers to a biologically important stimulus. The kind of stimulus events to which this stimulus refers is what other theorists have called positive and negative reinforcers. A cue event permits us to predict the occurrence of a significant consequent event.
Bolles worked most on what happens when a rat receives a signal that indicates a shock is soon to follow. Since mazes involve two-dimensional spaces, one dimension, it is perhaps understandable that Bolles feels he can get along with simpler assumptions than other psychologists and researchers. This theory generally is quite important in the field of education as it addresses key issues in the teaching and learning processes.
It is worth mention that as a teacher is aware of this, one can easily manipulate the teaching and learning environment to be able to influence the process. For instance, the teacher can use positive and negative reinforcement principles in a classroom setting in order to achieve the desired academic goals. In essence, both Piaget and Bolles played a crucial role in the education sector since, through their explanations, they were able to explain the teaching and the learning process of a living organism.
Bower, G. H. (1985). Psychology of Learning and Motivation (Vol. 19). London: Academic Press.
Farrington, W. H. (1980). Learning:a survey of psychological interpretations. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Weiner, I. B., & Craighead, E. W. (2010). The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology (Vol. 4). New York: John Wiley and Sons.