Theories of Development Essay

This essay has a total of 2254 words and 11 pages.

Theories of Development

Theories of Development

Three different theorists were considered in this assignment. Two children were used to
explore the theories of development by Piaget, Vygotsky and Kohlberg.

One child tested was a fourteen-year-old female named Kari. Kari is currently at the
grade 8 level and performs well academically. The other child tested was a six-year-old
female named Meghan. Meghan is currently in Kindergarten. Meghan performs at an average
level academically. The assigned tasks were completed with the child and myself alone
together to avoid distraction. Each child was evaluated on the same evening. I wanted to
ensure I would present the tasks in a similar manner for each child.

To explore Piaget’s theories two different tasks were assigned. The first task was
to test for the ability to conserve. I had a clear glass pie plate and a clear tall
glass. I used a two-cup measuring cup, which was filled with water while the child
watched. I filled it purposely to the two cup line making a point of setting the cup on
the counter to be sure the child could observe it well. I then poured it into the pie
plate. I again filled the two-cup measure; once more placing it on the counter to be sure
it was filled to the same point. I poured it into the tall glass. The question asked of
each child was to indicate which container had the most water in it.

Kari identified that the containers held the same amount of water without hesitation. Her
response indicates that Kari has the ability to conserve. From this test alone one can
only conclude that Kari has at least reached Piaget’s stage of concrete operations.

Meghan observed as I filled the two containers. She hesitated for a moment then indicated
the pie plate had more water in it than the tall glass. Meghan does not have the ability
to conserve. Even though she watched me fill the two containers with exactly the same
amount of water she thought the flattened out amount looked like more. Meghan is in
Piaget’s preoperational stage. This would be age appropriate according to Piaget.

The other Piagetian task was to observe the child for concrete operational thinking. I
took nine index cards and stuck pictures of food onto them. There were three pictures of
different meat, three pictures of different vegetables and three pictures of different
desserts. I then instructed the child to make as many meals as possible by mixing up the
cards as often and however they wished. The only limitation was that each meal had to
have meat, vegetable and a dessert. I was hoping that the hands on approach would make it
a true test of the concrete operations level.

Kari identified twenty-seven different meals. This is the maximum combination for the
limits set. Kari was very methodical in moving the index cards around the floor. Kari
looked at the cards for a moment and then started rotating through the possibilities very
systematically. She performed this task quite rapidly. It seemed obvious that she viewed
the situation, used abstract thinking to decide how to handle it and continued with the
task. The results indicate that Kari has reached the stage of formal operations as would
be age appropriate according to Piaget.

Meghan identified three meals. Prior to handling the index cards Meghan talked about her
favourite foods. She picked her three favourites from among the index cards. The cards
were placed on the floor. Meghan moved the index cards around and made one meal. She then
slid the cards around some more and created another meal. She moved the index cards
around again and created the final meal. I asked if she could think of any other meals
but she said no. I noticed that in each meal she had placed her favorite from each
category. Meghan did not make a meal with all her favorites as I thought she would. The
results indicate that Meghan has not reached the concrete operational stage yet. She was
unable to create more meals even though she was provided with hands on and visual aid.
Meghan is in the preoperational stage of Piaget’s cognitive development. This is
age appropriate.

Vygotsky’s theory of socio-cultural development stresses the importance of
interactions with others to assist in cognitive development. The zone of proximal
development is the area where a child requires assistance to complete a task.

The first test I asked Meghan to perform was tying shoelaces. Meghan was able to begin
the first step of tying laces by intertwining the laces but could go no further. I tried
to help her but she did not want help. She insisted that she could not tie her own shoes.
I asked her what she did when she was at school and her shoe came undone and she
responded that she wore Velcro shoes. The results indicate that the task of tying
shoelaces was above Meghan’s proximal zone of development.

I provided Kari with a mathematical problem. I had spoken to a high school mathematics
teacher and asked for a topic that students would not be exposed to until grade nine. See
appendix on page nine. Kari was unable to do the math problem. She just kept reading and
re-reading the problem. I let her try to figure it out for a couple of minutes and then
offered her brief instruction. She then began to work on the problem. She did not come
up with the correct solution but was started in the right direction with instruction. I
felt that this mathematical problem was definitely within Kari’s zone of proximal
development. A little more instruction and she would be correctly answering questions
similar to this one with little difficulty.

As language is very important to Vygotsky’s theory I asked each child to read a
portion of a book. Meghan was asked to read a passage from “The Colour
Kittens”, a beginning reader book. She had never seen this book before. Meghan sat
beside me and we read the book together. She was able to read some of the basic words but
had difficulty with most of the words. The word ‘colour’ was used five times
in the passage she read. She required help the first two times she attempted the word.
The remaining three times Meghan was able to read the word on her own. She was able to
read approximately one-tenth of the words without help. Meghan is very willing to read
with assistance. This task is within her zone of proximal learning.

Kari was given a section of an encyclopedia to read. She was able to read and comprehend
with little effort. As she required no assistance I concluded that this task was beneath
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