Theory of Jean Piaget

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Jean Piaget made a systematic investigation in 1936 that enabled a breakthrough in the understanding of cognitive development in the study population. The motivation to engage in research was after the children provided wrong responses to his question which led to the establishment of the building blocks of the model. The theory is thus focused on explaining the nature and development process in cognitive development in a learner’s intelligence (McMaugh & Duchesne, 2015). The model of the theory is that it is a critique of the previous ones that showed that children tend to be less competent thinkers because according to Piaget, the idea is that children tend to think from a different dimension to adults. This essay will focus on Piaget's theory in enabling the apprehension of how schemata in one stage are important in student leaners and the relevance of theorist’s concepts in aligning appropriate teaching methods depending on the student’s level.


            The primary basis of the Piaget theory is that it enables the researcher to understand the process of student learning. Based on the stages that he hypothesised, it is possible to determine the convenience in education and the appreciation of the individual means. For example, the phases that Piaget postulated can be related to the time of the month when the learner is transitioning from one step to another (Flavell,1996). For example, research findings indicate that all the learners tend to pass through one phase to another and that no learner is supposed to skip one stage in their educational journey. The core stags that learners undergo based on the Piaget theory include schemas, processes of shifting from a given step and the level of development. The most relevant in the understanding of learning is the schema concept that enables one apprehend why student learning advances as one proceed higher in their educational journey (McMaugh & Duchesne, 2015).

            The schemas constitute the building blocks of the learner's cognitive development, and they provide the mental representation of the educational settings. The theorist described this feature as one that establishes the foundations for intelligent behaviour and makes the child to create a representation of what they think makes up their world. It thus follows that the hypothesis by Jean aligns with the student learning findings because the schemata are the units of knowledge that enable the student to interact with the information and stimuli in the classroom setting or other learning settings (Slavin, 2000). The theorist postulated that the mind of the child tends to embody a feature he described as cognitive balance when the learner could explain what is happening in the environment surrounding them (Labinowisc, 1980). The student learning model from research findings that show that older students have more knowledge has also been a subject that Piaget described in his model. Accordingly, the theorist believes that the demonstrated of more ideas as one advance in their stage of learning is based on the fact that one has acquired more schemas than those in the lower levels of education. It thus follows that the foundation of the understanding of the role of schemas is the basis for explaining the observation that a child in the first grade will be less knowledgeable compared to their counterpart in the fifth or higher rank. It thus follows that the student learning model that posits that a fifth grader can answer questions better and engage in critical thinking is based on the fact that they have more schemata (McMaugh & Duchesne, 2015).


Jean Piaget provides evidence on the development of self-identity by relating it to cognitive development. He studied the age-related strategies employed by children in reasoning. He argued that there is a limit to children's thinking and mental abilities until adolescence. A person is not able to establish an identity before puberty because they lack cognitive reasoning. Piaget describes the period between two to six years as a preoperational stage in which the children lack logical strategies. The individual will only focus on one aspect of an object and thus and do not understand the fact that some things do not change despite changing a particular feature. A preoperational child is never sure that they can improve even from the way they describe themselves. It is during the adolescent when the kids can logically reason and begin to express stability in individual characteristics. They learn new psychosocial abilities that help them utilise new cognitive capabilities (Slavin, 2000). The person can reason beyond concrete objects and can think and make changes in preparation for a future they have to live. For instance, it is during the adolescent stage that the children develop an interest in reasoning and establishing career goals because they know they have a future they have to prepare. Many decisions made at this stage are lifetime and thus critical in determining identity.

            The relevance of Piaget theory is that it allows the reader its application as pertains the teaching methods that are favourable to the learner. The use of the concepts is multifaceted as it can be contextualised not only in the educational institutions but the domestic setting as well (McMaugh & Duchesne, 2015). It thus follows that the Piaget theory can be used by teachers in enabling the student to learn academic concepts or by the parents in equipping the child with good behavioural traits. The teacher will thus understand that as the child grows, they will be better equipped with the awareness and skills to solve even more complex problems in their academic journey. The significance of this element of teaching is that the tutor will thus understand that it is wrong to bombard the student who is in grade three with ideas they should learn in class five or other related concepts that are beyond their cognition (Slavin, 2000). It is also important in the designing of a school curriculum because it necessitates the need to make adequate consultations to establish whether the child is equipped with the skills that they need to thrive in a given stage (Tabak & Baumgartner, 2004). Thus considering that the teaching method could either be in the form of assimilation and accommodation, it is much easier for the parent or teacher to understand why they should wait before teaching a particular concept until the child reaches a certain age.


Cognitive theory and learning as pertain historical development and related research findings is a subject that has been investigated by many scholars. The approach by Piaget works to understand how the human brain works as people learn in different stages. Piaget is thus associated with significant contributions towards the appreciation of learning as his findings are consistent with other scholars’ assessment of learning. He recognised that the environment an individual life is critical in shaping one's ability to learn. He emphasises on the schemata that occur in the internal cognitive structure of an individual. His role in the history of this theory is associated with identifying the stages of growth because he postulated that the changes in reasoning capacities are realised between one step of learning to another. He noted that older students have better cognitive abilities in their thinking, and unlike the younger learners, the lower grade individuals progress systematically. The relevance of the study findings is that other researchers confirm that people in the bracket of senior learning category are capable of subjecting the substance at hand to reason and to think more critically. It is crucial to the teacher and the designing of educational curriculums because it enables the understanding of why learners should only be taught certain concepts once they attain a partial stage and age in their growth process.


Flavell, J. H. (1996). Piaget’s legacy. Psychological Science, vol. 7, issue 4. p 200- 203.

Labinowisc, E., (1980). The Piaget primer. Thinking, learning, teaching. (pp.19-21, 73, 83, 93). Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

McMaugh, A., & Duchesne, S. (2015). Educational Psychology for Learning and Teaching. University of Wollongong: Cengage Learning Australia.

Slavin, R. (2000). Educational psychology: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Tabak, I., & Baumgartner, E. (2004). The teacher as partner: exploring participant structures, symmetry, and identity work in scaffolding. Cognition and Instruction, 22(4), 393–429.

August 14, 2023

Education Psychology



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