Cognitive development theory is the comprehension of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making. This includes how one thinks, perceives reason and acquires appreciation and understanding of his or her world by means of influencing and making association of inherent and learned characteristic. Cognitive development is based on research indicating that, from the time of birth, infants are aware of their surroundings and begin to actively gather, sort, and process information from around them, using the data to develop perception and thinking skills. Some of the areas that contribute to cognitive development are information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, and memory. Cognitive development can be studied in a variety of ways. One way is through intelligence tests, such as the popularly known Stanford Binet Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test. The IQ test was first adopted in the US by Lewis Terman in 1916 from a method first used in France in 1905. The IQ method uses scoring that is based on the concept of "mental age", where an individual with an average intelligence will typically have a score that matches his or her age. IQ tests are widely used in the United States, but they have come under increasing scrutiny for defining intelligence too narrowly and for being consider biased on the basis of race and gender. A leading cognitive thinker is Jean Piaget. Piaget introduced the concept the children think differently than adults. While working with children, he found himself intrigued with the reasons children gave when they answered questions incorrectly that required logical thinking. He believed that these incorrect answers revealed important differences between the thinking of adults and children. Before Piaget’s work, the common assumption was that children are simply less competent thinkers than adults. Piaget demonstrated that young children simply think in remarkably different ways than adults. Another leader cognitive development theorist is Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky's theory, which has become known as Social Development Theory, emphasizes the role of environment and social interactions in children’s intellectual development. Under these circumstances, the social rather than the biological factors would most influence the child. Unlike Piaget's notion that children's' development must necessarily precede their learning, Vygotsky believed that "learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function" (1978, p. 90). In other words, social learning precedes development.
According to Piaget’s findings, children are born with a very basic mental structure on which all of their subsequent learning and knowledge is based. Piaget was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development. This idea led to a transformation of how child development was viewed and evaluated. This concept led Piaget to propose a theory of cognitive development to account for the steps and sequence of children's intellectual development. His theory is often considered the most comprehensive theory of cognitive development. Piaget believed that intelligence is an aid in how one is able to adapt to the environment. Intelligence can be exhibited on a continuum and is displayed as increasingly complex responses to one’s environment. Equilibration refers to how development occurs through Piaget’s stages, the process of cognitive development where children look for a balance between the information and experiences that life presents to them. Children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment (Piaget, 1957). His theory focused on development, it does not address learning of information or specific behaviors. Vygotsky approached development differently from Piaget. He...
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