Essay, Research Paper: Piaget Stage Theory

Psychology

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The project is based on Piaget`s stage theory of cognitive development
Prediction Based on Piaget`s theory, children during the pre - operational stage
have acquired the ability to stand apart and view themselves from another person`s
perspective. They are able to describe themselves as different from other
children by listing their unique characteristics, especially the fact that their
names are different. They develop a more complex understanding of themselves,
such as age, name, family etc.. During the same stage children become aware of
and use gender as a dimension by which to classify people. Once children become
aware of their own sex, they learn to label themselves as boy or girl. Early
childhood is the time when children start to learn family values, and become a
cooperative part of the family with their own responsibilities. They spend
countless hours of play and other activities with their siblings. Although young
children may use words reflecting an understanding of time, such as minute,
hour, day, or week, they still confuse the concept of time and space. Based on
Piaget`s theory, I believe that the interviewed children will know their age,
name, gender, and their siblings. I do not expect to know their exact birthday
and address because it is still too abstract for them. Furthermore, I do not
expect that the background/culture is influencing the children`s answers to my
questions. I believe that all four tested children do understand and are able to
answer my questions. Methods Interviewing four children from different
backgrounds was the method use to assess the children`s cognitive development.
The four-year-old identical twin girls were interviewed in the living room of
their parents` house. Each girl was interviewed separately. The five-year-old
German boy was interviewed by phone, and the six year old Asian - American boy
was interviewed at the neighborhood playground. Each interview took
approximately 10 minutes. Hanna: 4 years old, female, white, American, has an
identically twin sister and a younger sister. Emma: 4 years old, female, white,
American, Hanna`s twin. Hanna and Emma are not going to school yet. They are
staying with a nanny and their younger sister at home, while both parents are
working. Max - Raphael: 5 years old, male, white, German, youngest of three
children, parents are divorced, living with mother and older sisters, no contact
with father, staying home with mother. Timothy: 6 years old, Asian - American,
oldest of two boys, bilingual, living with both parents, going to a private
Christian school. Questionnaire: 1. Name: Tell me your name. If child gave only
the first name: What is the rest of it? 2. Age: How old are you? If fingers
shown: How many does that make? If still no answer, let the child count fingers.
3. Sex/Gender: Are you a boy or a girl? 4. Siblings: Do you have any brothers
and / or sisters? What are their names? How old are they? 5. Birthday: When is
your birthday? 6. Address: Where are you living? What is your address? Results
Hanna and Emma were both able to give me their names immediately. They also knew
their age, gender, and they were able to name and give me the age of their
sister. However, they did not know their address or birthday. I did not have to
tease the answer out bit by bit. They were ready to give me a concrete answer.
The answers I got from both were short and specific. Max - Raphael knew his
name, age, sex, and was able to name and give the age of his sisters. He, like
Hanna and Emma, did not know his address and birthday. Max - Raphael gave me his
age, gender, and his sisters' name and age immediately, but I had to ask him
about his surname. Timothy could answer every question. His answers were
concrete and given readily. I did not have to tease any question out of him. The
results support my prediction in most points. All children were able to give me
their age, gender, sex, and the name and age of their siblings. I was not too
sure if Timothy would be able to give me his correct birthday and address,
although he is already attending school. Discussion The study is only based on
four pre - operational children but the results show that there are no major
differences cross - culturally in the children`s knowledge and experience. The
five-year-old German boy knew as much as the four-year-old American girls. The
fact that the six year old Asian - American was able to give me his address and
birthday might be due to the fact that he is the only one in the study who is
already attending school. It is also possible that the parents of the three
other children never thought it is necessary to teach them the address because
the children are not yet leaving home unattended, and are spending most of their
time at home. Knowing the address becomes more an issue when children are
attending school because it is the first time when they are more or less on
their own, without their parents. For children in school, knowing their birthday
and address becomes more important because of the interaction and socializing
with a lot of other children; for example, many schools celebrate birthdays. I
doubt that children in the pre - operational stage, especially if they are not
attending school, understand the concept of age because they emphasize too much
on visual inputs, they confuse age with height. Piaget said, physical time of
young children is at first nothing other than egocentric time, the projection of
inner time into external objects based on their egocentrism. Furthermore, age
and numbers are related to logic and pre - operational children do not think in
logical terms. Although the interviewed children knew their age, most likely
because their parents told them though, they would, in my opinion, fail to
answer questions like: how old are you going to be in two years, or how old were
you last year? One reason for failing to answer these questions might be the
lack of memory. The children cannot, are not able to think backwards, for
example they are not able to solve the conservation test. Children in the pre -
operational stage are also not able to plan or think about the future. Moreover,
children do not internalize events by the real order of time. Events are linked
together on the basis of personal interests. Children project inner time to
external objects, and they confuse age with height (age is equivalent to
growing), as Piaget concluded. Although children might not understand the
concept of age, it is till possible for them to know it because other people
focus a lot on it. The first questions are always about the name and age. The
easiest way to classify people is to put them into categories by their age,
gender, and name. I am not surprised that these results show a culturally
universal ability to answer my questions because all questions were within the
realm of the child`s immediate knowledge and experience; at least for Western
Cultures which emphasize on questions about the name, age, gender, and family.
In Western Cultures the knowledge about these things is an important part of one`s
own concept of self. It is amazing to look back over these short interviews to
see how fully the children have revealed themselves. Some children had their
answers at their tongue`s tip, ready to give, whereas with others some items had
to be teased out bit by bit. It is also amazing to see that the development is
cross - culturally universal, that a child in Germany knows as much as the child
at a similar age in America. I suggest further testing on questions like: Do
schools contribute to children`s cognitive development? Do pre - operational
children understand the concept of age? Does bilingualism have influence on
cognitive abilities? Does gender influence cognitive abilities or skills, is
there a difference between girls and boys? ⌠Is there a difference in
cognitive development / abilities between children in highly industrialized
societies versus nonindustrialized societies?

BibliographyGormly, Anne. Lifespan Human Development, Sixth edition: pp. 168 - 184 and
206 - 213. Piaget, Jean. The Conception of Age, Basic Books, Inc., New York,
1969 Chapter III, Age and Inner Time, pp. 197 - 229 Bee, Helen. The Developing
Child, 9th Edition, Allen and Bacon, pp.164 - 193 Dasen, Pierre R. Piagetian
Psychology - Cross - Cultural Contributions, Gardner Press, Inc. New York, 1977
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