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Theories of Development
The term development refers to……..?
Why is it important for teachers to have a strong understanding of human development?
how people grow, adapt, and change over the course of their lifetime, through
and language development
Development at Various School Ages?
four important general principles about development:
Human development is often characterized by developmental milestones that occur in a predictable sequence.
Sit up → crawl → walk
Concrete thinking → abstract thinking
These are universal regardless of culture, time, etc.
Different children develop at different rates.
Research – avg ages which dev. milestones are reached
Some earlier, some later
Understanding developmental milestones - allow us to form general expectations about capabilities of children at particular
age level and to design educational curriculum and instructional strategies around these expectations.
Never jump to conclusions about what an individual student can and cannot do on the basis of age alone
Development does not always proceed at a constant rate.
Growth in height
Acquisition of language and vocabulary
Virtually every aspect of development is affected by both heredity and environment.
When a child learns to talk….is this nature or nurture?
Case of Genie
What are the basic assumptions of Piaget’s theory?
What are key terms?
What are criticisms of this theory?
Piaget’s Basic Assumptions
Children are inherently active and motivated learners
Children construct knowledge from their experiences
Innate tendency to interact w/ and make sense of environments
Use schemes to find out about the world
Babies learn about world by sucking on objects, throwing, biting
Each approach to interacting with objects is a scheme
When encounter new object, how are they to know what object is all about?
They use schemes they have developed and will find out whether object makes loud/soft sound when banged, what tastes like,
whether it gives milk, and maybe whether it rolls or just goes thud when dropped.
Children learn through assimilation & accommodation
- understanding new object/event in terms of existing scheme
Give an object to a baby and watch how he tries to figure out what it is.
Student uses note cards to study for Spanish test, however when applying this scheme for studying economics realizes she
may have to change her schema.
This is accommodation: modifying existing scheme in light of new info
If you give an egg to a baby who has a banging scheme for small objects, what will happen to the egg? What will happen
to baby’s banging scheme?
Disequilibrium – imbalance between what is understood and what is encountered
Desire for equilibrium is key to learning!
Development depends on maturation of brain
Piaget believed that, because of their neurological immaturity, elementary school children CANNOT think as adults do, no
matter what parent or teachers might do to encourage adult-like thinking.
Key Terms in Piaget’s theory
Formal operational egocentrism?
What are some educational implications of Piaget’s theory?
Capitalize on students’ natural curiosity
Relate information to what students already know.
Hands-on experiences w/ physical objects
Opportunities to discuss/exchange ideas & perspectives
Play devil’s advocate
Developmentally Appropriate Education!
What are some criticisms or limitations to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development?
Criticisms of Piaget’s Theory
Does development really occur in fixed stages?
Must development preceded learning? Can younger children be taught formal operational thinking?
Thinking processes have roots in social interactions
Children first talk about objects/events w/ adults and other knowledgeable individuals; in the process, they discover how
people around them think about those objects or events.
Gradually, children incorporate the ways that adults and others talk about and interpret the world into their own ways
The process in which social activities evolve into internal mental activities is called internalization.
Children can perform more challenging tasks when assisted by more advanced and competent individuals
Actual developmental level – potential level of development
Scaffolding is important part of learning
Zone of Proximal Development
Children learn very little from performing tasks they can already do independently.
Instead, they develop attempting tasks they can accomplish only in collaboration w/ more competent individual, that is,
when they attempt tasks within their zone of proximal development.
"It’s challenges in life, not easy successes, that promote cognitive development."
Encourage students to talk selves through new & difficult tasks
Have students collaborate w/ other students when they work on challenging assignments
Engage students in realistic adult tasks, giving them guidance they need to be successful
Provide scaffolding students need to perform challenging tasks successfully; gradually withdraw it as they become more
Perform difficult tasks in partnership with students
How would Vygotsky and Piaget feel about:
Virtual High School?
Children develop in predetermined order
He was interested in how children socialize and how this affects their sense of self.
8 psychosocial stages in a lifetime
Each stage – crises/critical issues to be resolved
How one deals w/ critical issue sets up future mental/emotional well-being
Can someone overcome past?
Criticisms of Erikson
Not all experience crises to same degree or at same time
Theory does not explain how or why individuals progress from one stage to another
Difficult to confirm through research
Does not account for individual differences
Promote positive attitude toward learning
Focus on individual learning styles
Given authority and influence teachers possess, must consider impact their comments have on these young learners
With proper feedback, teacher can enhance child’s self-concept
Discuss relevant developmental milestones
Kohlberg studied how children (and adults) reason about rules that govern their behavior in certain situations.
He probed for their responses to a series of structured situations or moral dilemmas.
His most famous one is the following:
In Europe, a woman was near death from special kind of cancer. There was 1 drug that doctors thought might save her. It
was a form of radium that druggist in same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but druggist was
charging 10x what drug cost to make. He paid $200 for radium and charged $2,000 for small dose. The sick woman’s husband,
Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow money, but could only get about $1,000. He told druggist that his wife was dying
and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I’m going to
make money." So Heinz got desperate and broke into man’s store to steal drug-for his wife.
Should the husband have done that?
Kohlberg was not interested in subject’s yes or no response but more interested in reasoning behind response.
Wanted to know WHY?
Kohlberg then categorized responses into stages.
Preconventional Level (up to age 9)
Morality defined as obeying rules and avoiding negative consequences. Children in this stage see rules set, typically by
parents, as defining moral law.
That which satisfies the child’s needs is seen as good and moral.
Conventional Level (9 - adolescence)
Children begin to understand what is expected of them by their parents, teacher, etc.
Morality is seen as achieving these expectations.
Fulfilling obligations as well as following expectations are seen as moral law for children in this stage.
Postconventional Level (adulthood)
What is right and wrong is based upon the circumstances surrounding an action.
Basics of morality are the foundation with independent thought playing an important role.
Studied mostly boys
Deals with moral reasoning and not actual behavior
Presenting both sides of a controversial issue