This paper is a delivery of three written reflective responses to lessons learnt in this class. The first response will cover the Piaget Theory, the second will look at the relationship between Working Memory, schematic encoding and cognitive load. The third element will aim at deciphering vision and learning.
Jean Piaget’s theory is an important cognitive development theory in children and has numerous practical applications in education. The theory aims at explaining the mental development of children through different levels of thinking, reasoning and understanding. It is an explanation of a child’s mental construction of the world’s model. The theory is a deviation from the concept of fixed trait intelligence but instead looks at cognitive development as a process initiated and sustained by biological growth and maturation besides the interaction with the environment. The theory explains cognitive development in three stages where each stage consists of an overall structure further consisting of ‘schemas’. Piaget and Cook (1952) explain that schemas are senses of experiences that a child gains right from birth.
The stages are clearly marked. The first stage occurs between the period of 0 and 2 years and is known as the “sensorimotor stage”. It is a stage defined by practical discovery that is characterized by environmental interaction of sensory and motor skills. Children prefer to touch and taste and information obtained is accommodated into schemas described above. The second stage occurs between 2 and 7 years and is known as the “pre-operation stage” where children are not in positions to understand other people’s point of view rather than that of their own (Piaget, 1954). Piaget (1952) showed that in this stage, children are not able to concentrate on different concepts at the same time. As such, children in this stage are expected to focus on one concept at a time. The third stage occurs at between 7 and 11 years and it is at this stage that children develop the capabilities to work out problems in their minds. The final stage occurs after 11years where children, according to Sieglar, Eisneberg, DeLoache, and Saffron (2006), are able to think and apply reasoning in solving problems systematically.
Piaget Theory can prove to be important to a teacher. A teacher should appreciate guiding the students. At young ages, focusing on different elements is different and pushing information to them might not work. For children between 2 and 7 years, encouraging them to learn from their peers is important as they can relate to each other, as such, information and skills can be spread out. Piaget acknowledged that children learn through trial and error. As such, a teacher should encourage students to learn from mistakes. From the theory, it has become apparent that children’s thinking process is rather different and undeveloped. As such, a teacher should not just focus on the right answers but should focus on the process of arriving at the answer. Each student’s interests, limits, and abilities should be respected since their development is not synchronous. A teacher should not force a student to adopt a single learning process, but rather their development stage and their preferences.
Cowan (2014) explains that working memory is the retention of small amounts of information in forms that are readily available. It is the memory that we use to enhance planning, problem solving, comprehension and reasoning. Working memory is what a child uses when executing cognitive tasks. It has been hypothesized by psychologists that working memory has a connection to intelligence, information processing, learning, and problem solving as explained by Cowan (2014). Working memory can be trained in a bid to enhance learning and education.
Schematic encoding is the systematic pattern of thought that allows the brain to convert information into a construct that the brain can store, and latter retrieved from either working memory, or long term memory. On this note, lets remain fixated at working memory. Working memory as explained above, stores information for immediate retrieval or manipulation. Encoding or conversion of information can be done depending on the type of information. Visual encoding allows for the process of conversion of visual information. Elaborative encoding allows for the brain to relate new information to that which is already in the memory. Encoding using auditory impulses is known as Acoustic encoding. Children use schematic encoding to organize current knowledge besides providing a framework that can be used to enhance future understanding.
Cognitive load is the effort that is used in the working memory. And can be understood in three types; intrinsic cognitive load is the effort that is associated with a specified topic, extraneous cognitive load is the methodology used to present information or tasks to a leaner. Lastly, germane cognitive load is that work that is put to create a schema (a permanent store of knowledge).
A teacher needs to understand the relationship between the three concepts because they have a direct impact on learning outcomes. Working memory determines how much information a student can retain, schematic encoding determine how much of the information can be converted to a form that can be stored and further processed by the brain, and the cognitive load determines how much the brain can take at a given time. The three elements determine how much information is processed, stored, and retrieved and at what speed. As such, the three concepts determine what kind of materials a teacher should use on different students, and the teaching methodology a teacher should adopt. A teacher should use instructional designs that leave the most working memory, reduces the cognitive load, and ensures the most schematic encoding. As such, a teacher should allow his/her students to show the kind of materials they prefer and also the methodologies that have the highest impact on their brains.
Learning in infants is an affair that is significantly impacted on by vision. As such, the development of vision at infancy is critical. It is therefore a requisite for teachers to consider visual development for their infant learners and the kind of instructional guidance to adopt. With the maturation of infants, comes development and maturation of visual skills and abilities. As such, there are implications of visual development when teaching older children and adults as it will be discussed here below.
Farroni and Menon (2008) discusses the different changes that occur to an infant who is developing his/her visual capabilities. Infants who are between one and two years old have the capability to spot small objects nearby and can define and recognize faces and new objects. By the end of their second year, they have vertical orientation and have optical skills that are well coordinated. Kids at this age have the ability to match same objects by single properties such as colour. At this age, an infant has well developed colour and face perceptions. A teacher with infants of this age should have instructional material with single or a few colours to avoid confusing the learners or overloading their cognitive load. At three years a child is able to do simple puzzles and draw crude shapes. At this time, their optical capabilities are inching closer to having well defined acuity and depth, and object perception. At this level, infants can use more advanced instructional designs which allow kids to further develop and experience different perceptions. At 5 years, an infant is able to keep writings and drawings within lines, and by 7 years, they have near adult capabilities.
Visual development has implications to older children and students. Their visual development is at advanced levels and can be described as near adults. As such, they can cope with advanced visual instructional designs since their vision perceptions are up to the challenge. They are able to demonstrate visual experience by talking about people, objects, or places they have seen elsewhere. As such, a teacher should aim at using instructional designs that capture the increased appetite for new visual experiences.
Even when a child is born with perfect eyes, the interaction of the child with the environment often affects the development of the child’s vision. The environmental factors that affect the development of vision include light, colors, motion, and shapes. Vision often develops in response to these environmental factors. As such, there is an evident relationship between genetics (how are the eyes at birth) and the environment. The visual experience from the environment influences the way an infant’s brain develops after birth.
Cowan, N. (2014). Working memory underpins cognitive development, learning, and education. Educational Psychology Review, 26(2), 197-223.
Farroni, T., & Menon, E. (2008). Visual perception and early brain development. Encyclopedia on early childhood development, Montréal, QC, Centre of excellence for early childhood development, retrieved May, 5(2009), 1-6.
Piaget, J., & Cook, M. T. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York, NY: International University Press.
Piaget, J. (1954). The construction of reality in the child. New York: Basic Books. See pp. 30-32 (Observation 24).
Sieglar, R., Eisneberg, N., DeLoache, J., Saffron, J. (2006) How Children develop. Fourth Edition.
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