The Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET): Theory of Cognitive Development by Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget was a psychologist with specialties in child development in Switzerland. Even to this day, graduate students in the areas of education and psychology continue to study his contributions to education. It’s best to refresh ourselves with these kinds of information that may appear during the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET).

The cognitive development theory of John Piaget aims to arrange the phases of learning between birth and maturity for a child.

Piaget proposed that a child’s development can be split into four phases of development:

Theory of Cognitive Development by Jean Piaget: Stages of Development

1. Sensorimotor stage

Age Group: It begins at birth and ends at the age of 2.

How does the child learn?

In the theory of cognitive development, through movement and the senses, the infant learns about his surroundings.

Major Characteristics:

  • Infants are prone to simple reflexes like sucking and rooting.
  • Children start using basic habits and circular responses
  • The perception of children is rather self-centered.
  • At 8 months, the baby starts to understand things beyond his or her own body. They still use patterns and circular responses in order to satisfy their needs.
  • The child starts to learn about object permanence after 8 months.
  • The child starts to become excited about new ideas at the end of this stage. This encourages them to explore their own bodies and the world further.

2. Preoperational stage

Age Group: Begins as the infant begins to talk until about 7 years old.

How does the child learn?

At this time in the theory of cognitive development, the opportunity to walk and talk encourages children through the practice to understand more about their surroundings. Games like pretending and performing roles become a popular subject of this age among children.

Major Characteristics:

  • The perception of the child can still be self-centered.
  • In playing, symbolism starts to appear.
  • Intuitive thinking begins at the latter stage (4-7 years old). At this time the child’s curiosity is also an early indication of his reasoning abilities.
  • Centration
  • Irreversibility
  • Class inclusion
  • Transitive inference

3. Concrete operational stage

Age Group: Begins at the age of seven and finishes at around 11.

How does the child learn?

In the previous phases in the theory of cognitive development, children add more skills from schooling. The rapid logical acquisition helps them to study fundamental principles of subjects such as mathematics and logic.

Major characteristics:

  • Children may not be self-centered anymore.
  • The concept of conservation begins to evolve.
  • They substantially boost their classification skills.

4. Formal operational stage

Age Group: From 11 – 16 years of age.

How does the child learn?

In the theory of cognitive development, the infant begins learning at this point by using his or her mental abilities. Abstract topics such as applied maths, advanced mechanics, and chemical sciences will also gradually be added to enhance abstract reasoning.

Major characteristics:

  • Abstract thoughts begin to develop.
  • The abstract reasoning will now apply to the higher level of thinking the skills acquired in the previous phases.
  • The children now will learn the metacognition concept if they are taught.

Study further:

It is important to note that while researching Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, he reveals the progressive development of comprehension, experience, and ability as the child is born to a young adult.

For example, the infant understands only by means of brief gestures and his senses at the sensorimotor level. These learning skills are also present during the preoperational stage. They add other skills to further their learning experience.

The infant learns to acquire more information by using past experience gained from earlier stages. The learning is essentially a blend of cause and effect, test and error processes.

An infant begins to learn to behave around objects by his motions and his senses. They discover that there are corresponding responses to certain acts. By continuous practice and context manipulations, they understand what responses are and are not constant. In order to understand new ideas, the infant uses cause and effect for subsequent encounters.

These are key concepts that aspiring professional teachers must completely understand and master when preparing for the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET) as they concepts are essential in understanding the way they behave as students.