Describe and evaluate the contributions of cognitive psychology to the understanding of one cognitive process you have studied. Cognitive psychology has greatly contributed to the study of learning. The cognitive perspective posed the theory that learning is more than just reactions based on consequences and that it does indeed involve thinking and the functioning of the brain. Most often regarded as the “founder” of cognitive psychology, John Piaget mapped out different stages of learning. He proposed that in the sensorimotor stage, from birth to nearly 2 years old, children only experienced the world through their sense and actions, in the preoperational stage, from 2 to 6 years, they can represent things with words and images but lack logical reasoning, in the concrete operational stage, from about 7 to 11 years, children can think logically about concrete events, grasp concrete analogies and perform arithmetical operations.
Finally, in the formal operational stage, 12 years old to adulthood, they can perform abstract reasoning. The proposed stages, although redefined after Piaget’s time according to new research that found there are no set stages, rather a fluid change between them, allow for an understanding of when and what a child can understand and learn. Before the concrete operational stage, for example, a child cannot yet understand the principle of conservation of substances. Most 2-year-old children are also egocentric and cannot use a doll very easily as a representation of themselves. This helps provide a basis for teaching students of different ages.
The cognitive perspective also helps explain the acquisition or learning of language. It explains the way the brain must function to acquire the many rules of grammar and thousands upon thousands of words children acquire so rapidly. It has fueled studies that have shown that children over apply rules of grammar, such as the past tense rule that would cause them to say things like “I fell.” These studies, and others such as case studies with people deprived of language at early ages, add proof to cognitive theories and demonstrate that there are crucial times for learning because of the brain’s developing functions and thinking processes.
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