CHAPTER 2
Cognitive and Language
Development
1
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Learning Goals
1.
Define development and explain the main
processes, periods, and issues in development
as well as links between development and
education.
2.
Discuss the development of the brain and
compare the cognitive developmental theories of
Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky.
3.
Identify the key features of language, biological
and environmental influences on language, and
the typical growth of a child’s language.
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Cognitive and Language Development
An Overview of
Child
Development
Exploring What
Development Is
Processes
and Periods
Development and
Education
Developmental
Issues
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An Overview of Child Development
Development: The
pattern of
biological,
cognitive, and
socioemotional
changes that
begins at
conception and
continues through
the life span.
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Developmental Processes
Biological processes and genetic inheritance

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Development of the brain
Gains in height and weight
Changes in motor skills
Puberty’s hormonal changes
Cognitive processes

Changes in the child’s thinking
Intelligence

Language acquisition

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Developmental Processes
Socioemotional processes


Changes in the child’s relationships
with other people
Changes in personality
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Developmental Issues
Nature-Nurture Issue
Continuity-Discontinuity Issue
Early-Later Experience Issue
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Development and Education


Developmentally appropriate teaching
practices
Splintered development
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Cognitive and Language Development
Cognitive
Development
Vygotsky’s Theory
The Brain
Piaget’s Theory
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Synaptic Density in the Human
Brain
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Myelination
Myelination
increases the
speed at which
information travels
through the
nervous system.
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Brain Lateralization
…the specialization of functions in each
hemisphere of the brain.
Verbal
Processing
Nonverbal
Processing
In most individuals,
speech and grammar
are localized
in the left hemisphere.
Spatial perception,
visual recognition,
and emotion
are localized
in the right hemisphere.
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Brain and Children’s Education
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Role of early and later experiences
Dramatic changes in synaptic connections
Prefrontal cortex development into
adolescence
Cognitive control challenges in adolescence
Brain functioning along specific pathways
and integrated
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Piaget’s Cognitive Processes
Schemas
Actions or mental representations that
organize knowledge
Assimilation
Incorporating new information into
existing schemas
Accommodation
Adjusting existing schemas to fit new
information and experiences
Organization
Grouping isolated behaviors and
thoughts into a higher-order system
Equilibration
A shift, a resolution of conflict to reach a
balance
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Piaget’s Four Stages
Cognition unfolds in a
sequence of four stages.
 Each stage is agerelated and distinctive.
 Each stage is
discontinuous from and
more advanced than
the previous.
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Piaget’s Four Stages
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Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage
Coordination of sensory experiences
with motor actions.
Object permanence involves the
realization that objects continue to exist
over time.
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Piaget’s Preoperational Stage
Symbolic Function Substage
Symbolic Thought: Ability to represent mentally
an object that is not present.
Limitations:

Egocentrism: The inability to distinguish between
one’s own perspective and someone else’s perspective.

Animism: The belief that inanimate objects have
“lifelike” qualities and are capable of action.
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The Three Mountain Tasks
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Piaget’s Preoperational Stage
Intuitive Thought Substage
Intuitive Thought rather than logical thinking
Centration: Focuses on one characteristic to the
exclusion of others.
Lack of Conservation
Classification: Ability to classify objects according to only
one characteristic at a time.
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Conservation of Liquid
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Piaget’s Concrete Operational Stage
Logical reasoning replaces intuitive reasoning,
but only in concrete situations.
Conservation
Classification
Seriation
Transitivity
The idea that some characteristics
of an object stay the same even
though the object might change in
appearance.
Coordinate several characteristics
rather than focus on a single
property of an object.
Order stimuli along some
quantitative dimension.
Combine relations to understand
certain conclusions.
If A>B, and B>C, then A>C.
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Hierarchical Classification
When shown a
family tree of four
generations, the
concrete operational
child can classify
the members
vertically,
horizontally,
and obliquely.
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Piaget’s Formal Operational Stage
Abstract reasoning: Think in abstract, idealistic,
and logical ways.
Hypothetical-deductive reasoning: Ability to
develop hypotheses about ways to solve
problems and systematically reach a conclusion.
Adolescent egocentrism: Heightened selfconsciousness and a sense of personal
uniqueness.
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Piaget’s Theory
Teaching Strategies
Preoperational
Thinkers
Concrete
Operations
Formal
Operations
 Manipulate groups of objects
 Reduce egocentrism
 Draw conclusions and explain
why
 Encourage children to discover
concepts and principles
 Assign operational tasks
 Propose problems and encourage
hypothesis formation
 Suggest alternative approaches to
problems
 Develop projects and investigations
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Enter the Debate
Should teachers allow preschool,
kindergarten, and first-grade students to
play for the bulk of their day?
YES
NO
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Piaget’s Cognitive Constructivism
Theory into Practice
Jennifer, James, and several of their classmates are
playing hide-and-go-seek during indoor recess one
rainy day. Jennifer carefully conceals her entire body
behind Mrs. Johnson’s long smock. In contrast, James
hides only his upper body behind a jacket hanging on a
hook. He giggles, sure that his classmates will never
see him.
Q: Based on the information given above, at which of
Piaget’s stages of cognitive development is James most
likely operating? Explain.
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Piaget’s Cognitive Constructivism
Theory into Practice
Mr. Jackson has a sand table in his kindergarten
classroom. He provides his students with many
containers of different sizes and shapes to play with
in the sand. He watches as his students carefully
pour sand from one container to another. One little
girl, Michelle, seems amazed when she pours sand
back and forth between two containers. The sand
always fills up one container and only half-fills the
other, yet the containers are the same height.
Q: Based on the information given above, what skill is
Michelle most likely developing? Explain.
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Piaget’s Cognitive Constructivism
Theory into Practice
Mr. Welby teaches high school English. He always
asks his students to find the symbolism in the great
works of literature he assigns. Some students do this
with relative ease. For others it is a real struggle.
Many are only able to parrot back what he has told
them in class.
Q.1: At which of Piaget’s stages are those who
understand the symbolism in literature likely operating?
Q.2: At which of Piaget’s stages are those who cannot
understand the symbolism in literature likely operating?
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Piaget’s Cognitive Constructivism
Theory into Practice
Marsha refuses to go to school one morning because
she is having a “bad hair day” and is certain that
everyone will stare at her all day. Her mother assures
her that she looks just fine. However, Marsha races
back to the bathroom to attempt to fix her “awful
hair.”
Q: What would Elkind say is happening here?
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Criticisms of Piaget’s Theory

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Estimates of children’s competence
Stages
Training children to reason at a higher
level
Culture and education
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Crack the Case
The Case of the Book Report
1.
2.
3.
Drawing on Piaget’s theory, explain why
Cindy understood the book.
Based on Piaget’s theory, explain why Lucy
did not understand the book.
What could Mr. Johnson do to help Lucy
understand?
cont’d
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Crack the Case
The Case of the Book Report
4.
5.
6.
How could Mr. Johnson have presented
this assignment differently so that Lucy did
not need to rush through a book?
At which of Piaget’s stages of cognitive
development is Cindy operating?
At which of Piaget’s stages of cognitive
development is Lucy operating?
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Vygotsky’s Theory
Zone of Proximal Development
Scaffolding: Teacher adjusts the
level of support as performance
rises.
Language and Thought:
Develop independently of each
other, then merge.
Have external or social origins
Self-talk
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Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal
Development (ZPD)
ZPD
Tasks too difficult for child to master
even with assistance
Tasks child can master alone
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Vygotsky’s Social Constructivism
Theory into Practice
Peter is having difficulty with his math assignment. His teacher,
Ms. Jacobs helps him work through the first problem step-bystep. Peter begins to understand the concepts and begins the
other problems. Suzanne also struggles with the assignment.
However, even when Ms. Jacobs works through the first
problem with her, she still cannot grasp how to do the remaining
problems. Meanwhile, Clarice has breezed through the
assignment with no difficulty at all.
Q.1: What would Vygotsky say about the
assignment for Peter?
Q.2: What would Vygotsky say about the
assignment for Suzanne?
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Vygotsky’s Social Constructivism
Theory into Practice
Peter is having difficulty with his math assignment. His teacher,
Ms. Jacobs helps him work through the first problem step-bystep. Peter begins to understand the concepts and begins the
other problems. Suzanne also struggles with the assignment.
However, even when Ms. Jacobs works through the first
problem with her, she still cannot grasp how to do the remaining
problems. Meanwhile, Clarice has breezed through the
assignment with no difficulty at all.
Q.3: What would Vygotsky say about the
assignment for Clarice?
Q.4: What would Vygotsky call the assistance Ms.
Jacobs gives Peter and Suzanne? Explain.
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Reflection & Observation
Reflection:

Identify an experience in which a
more competent person helped you
learn something you were unable to
do alone.

How did this person scaffold your
learning?
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Cognitive and Language
Development
Language
Development
What Is
Language?
How Language
Develops
Biological and
Environmental
Influences
© 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved.
Language is …
…a form of communication, spoken, written, or
signed, that is based on a system of symbols.
Phonology
Sound system of a language
Morphology
Units of meaning involved in word
formation
Syntax
Rules for combining words into
phrases/sentences
Semantics
Meaning of words and sentences
Pragmatics
Appropriate use of language in
different contexts
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Biological and Environmental
Influences
Children are neither exclusively
biological linguists
nor
social architects of language.
Interactionists emphasize the
contribution of both.
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How Language Develops
Infancy


Babbling
One  two words
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How Language Develops
Early Childhood
Phonology
Sensitive to sounds, rhymes
Morphology
Overgeneralize rules
Syntax
Complex rules for ordering words
Semantics
6-year-old: 8,000 to 14,000-word
vocabulary
Pragmatics
Talk in different ways to different
people
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How Language Develops
Middle & Late Childhood
Phonology
Alphabetic principle: letter-sound
correspondence
Morphology
Appropriate application of rules
Syntax
Complex grammar; metalinguistic
awareness
Semantics
12-year-old: 50,000-word
vocabulary
Pragmatics
Culturally appropriate language
use
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How Language Develops
Adolescence

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Increased sophistication in
use of words
Greater understanding of
metaphors, satire, and
complex literary works
Better writers
Dialect includes jargon and
slang
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Supporting Vocabulary Development
Through Technology
Computers
 Relate the new to the known
 Promote active, in-depth
processing
 Encourage reading
Audio Books
Educational Television
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Chapter 2