Quiz #1 EDU 6132- Students as Learners

EDU 6132

Students as Learners Quiz #1

Question 1:  Behavior and motor skill development and typical age of occurrence:

Behavior and motor skill development Typical age
Tells time to a quarter of an hour 8 years
Walks while holding onto something 1 year
Puts on shoes 3 years
Tells how a baseball and orange are alike 4 years
Climbs stairs; says many words 2 years
Turns head to follow moving object 2 months
Laces shoes 6 years
Sits alone for 1 minute and says “dada” 9 months
Describes the difference between bird and dog 7 years
Runs; uses simple word combinations 1year 6 months
Walks alone; says several words 1 year 3 months
Names penny, nickel, and dime 5 years

Question 2: Chapter Three; Cognitive Development

The four stages of Piaget’s theories and how learning occurs according to Piaget are as follows:

1. Sensorimotor Stage– infants are simple and action-oriented, motor schemes, object permanence, thinking only by doing.

According to Piaget this intelligence in this period involves the actions of the infant in their movement not in their mind.  For example an infant innately knows how to suck; this knowledge is then transferred from sucking their fist into sucking and exploring objects in their environment i.e.; blocks, toys, blankets, etc. At first, infants are only aware of objects that are within their sight.  Infants eventually gain object permanence as they progress in cognitive development.  This progression leads to an awareness that an object might still exist even if they cannot see it i.e.; it is hidden under a blanket, or behind a chair.  If object permanence is not present the child will simply look away or lose interest in object being hidden.

2.      Preoperational Stage– roughly coincides with the pre-school aged child.  Cognitive development increases as the child gains symbolic schemes along with motor, deferred imitation, symbolic play and language.

One of the first symbolic schemes is deferred imitation.  In deferred imitation a child might be able to mimic an observed action, say a tantrum, at a later time.  This can also be witness through symbolic play for example; a box becoming a car or a boat, a play structure becoming a castle.  According to Piaget the preoperational child is only aware of his or her environment as it relates to him or her, this is called egocentrism.  Children at this stage do not possess skills to understand how situations might affect others.  This preoperational child is unable to understand conservation tasks. They do not understand the idea that something might weigh the same even if it is a different shape. Additionally, a preoperational child is unable to cognitively undo what has been done.  This lack of reversibility could be witnessed through a lack of understanding that two different size bowls of soup could have the same liquid in them even if they do not look alike.  Even if the child was shown the same measurement amount he or she would still not be able to understand that bowl held the same amount of liquid.  This is an example of compensation and the child’s lack of recognition that dimension does not change amount.

3.      Concrete Operational Stage– corresponds roughly to elementary age child.  Schemes include motor, symbolic and operational-concrete.  Accomplishments are class inclusion, seriation, and conservation.

This concrete operational child is able to match things of same weight even if they are different shapes.  They are able to line things up numerically.  A child in the concrete operational stage is additionally able to group things together, what Piaget calls class inclusion. For example this child could circle all the squares on the page even when mixed with other symbols no matter what the size of the square. Another ability that comes with this stage is the ability to seriate. This could be demonstrated in the child’s ability to arrange or put in order, objects smallest to biggest- balls, sticks, blocks… etc.

4.      Formal Operational Stage– corresponds with early adolescents.  Character schemes present are motor, symbolic, operational-concrete and formal.  Accomplishments include thinking in possibilities, thinking ahead and thinking in hypothesis.

Young people as this stage can think of many possibilities.  Additionally, they are able to: hypothesis and examine situations from all sides, to think ahead, test possibilities and solve problems.

Specific developmental milestones teachers could use to place child in a stage:

  • Sensorimotor- observing a child sucking on a toy, progressing to banging toy on table, to “seek and find” with toy  i.e.; reaching for, grasping, and pulling and object close for careful examination.
  • Preoperational– observing child build a house out of blocks, sculpting a rabbit out of clay, using a box to become an ambulance, allowing the child to attach mental images, language and gestures to play with objects.
  • Concrete– observing child’s ability to group items together by similarity; understanding that there are more dogs in the world than there are Chihuahuas. This child has a sense of compensation and is able to apply it to cognitive processes.
  • Formal Operations– observing the child’s ability to think about an idea, to guess the outcome and test different theories for conclusions.      This child is capable of more complex problem solving that involves multiple factors.

One way how non-Piagetians have built on his original theory:

Kurt Fischer, a neo-Piagetian theorist, realized that children use a variety of skills to accomplish tasks. Fischer believed that skills are acquired through context they experience.  A child might learn counting by helping grocery shop with his or her mother.  We need four apples for the four people in the family, two boxes of Kleenex for the two bathrooms, and one bag of dog food for the family dog.  Fisher believed that development is discontinuous like Piaget however; he embraced the idea of cognitive development that correlated to brain growth spurts.  He posited that there were 13 developmental stages which take place between birth to about age 25, with seven spurts in the first 2 years of life.  Fischer also believed that emotional development evolves in tandem with cognitive development as shown in the example of the “terrible two’s”.  Children in this stage throw tantrums emotionally based on cognitive ability to process and express willfulness, anger and frustration.  Like Piaget, Fischer has cognitive development mapped out in stages, but explores them in more “spurts” than Piaget.

Question 4: What does Genie, “the girl in the box” teach us?

I think that Genie taught us that development can happen past age 12.  However this development is vastly different than what we would witness in a subject that has environmental stimulation, daily influence and opportunity to practice skills acquired.  In Genie’s case her environment was stagnant.  She was not able to move about or touch things, let alone speak, ask questions or practice verbal skills.  This isolated nature of development lent its hand in development that was severely lacking in “normal skills”.  When Genie was found and studied she did improve but was never able to recover many skills that were lost in fundamental development.  She had progress in her verbal skills only to retreat to silence once violence was reintroduced into her world.  Her language was never developed in a logical manner.  A listener outside of her circle of doctors and scientists would find it hard to follow the thread of Genie’s words.  Genie’s speech perception was effected almost like she was a deaf child, never hearing or being able to practice patterns and inflections that are key components in language acquisition. She never fully developed her speech production and phonological development however she was able to learn many words through rote memory. The biggest problem seemed to be the disconnect of her word acquisition and recognizable sentences with structure and syntactical development.  Additionally, Genie seemed to lack many of the skills necessary for pragmatic development and was thus unable to obtain effective conversations skills.  In the video we saw Genie communicating but it seemed only on the urging of the scientist, she did not seem to initiate conversation. Although Genie was able to make remarkable strides in her development, given her background, she did not receive much of the stimulation necessary at the critical times of development.  In the end Genie was left devoid of many critical skills, language connections from developmental stages, and competency was lost.

Question 6: What brain rule is underutilized in American School?  What can teachers do to help better teach this rule?

Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!  Immediately this is what I think of when asked this question.  Many American classrooms today lack student’s actually moving their bodies except for recess and P.E.(and that happens only 2-3 times per week if that).  I think that if we can incorporate movement in lessons, not only will the students be more active in their lifestyle, but they will have better brain function. In Brain Rules, by John Medina we read how even a bit more movement throughout the day could improve cognitive processing.  “Cutting off the physical exercise- the very activity most likely to promote cognitive performance- to do better on a test score is like trying to gain weight by starving yourself.” (p. 25)   Therefore, I think that need for simple movement in the classroom is the first and simplest step to improving the way we think about exercise and cognitive development.  For example, a colleague shared a math lesson where the students were having a hard time grasping the concept of rounding up/down number.  When movement was included the student’s immediately started to “get it”.  They had the students stand up next to their desk and pretend they were football players.  They started by having the students run in place. Then when the teacher called out a number the students would have to change their position. If a number was to be rounded up (7) they continued to run but put their hands in the air, when the number was to be rounded down (3) they squatted down and if the number (5) stayed the same they continued to stay running in place.  This simple moving of the bodies engaged the cognitive processing and help the student think more clearly.  I am sure that this, too, made for a fun memory for the students to draw upon for future math rounding problems.  Simply put: “Exercise boosts brain power.” (p. 28)


Medina, John (2008). Brain Rules. Seattle, WA: Pear Press

Pressley, M McCormick, C. (2007). Child and Adolescent development for Educators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press

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