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Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nasim

Four Stages of Cognitive Development

By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nasim

Jean Piaget (1896- 1980) a Swiss psychologist, who studied the intellectual and logical abilities of children, theorized that cognitive development, proceeds in four stages that follow the same sequential order. His cognitive development theory is hugely in?uential in the ?elds of education and psychology. He proposed that the thinking process develops through each of the stages, until a child can think logically. Understanding cognitive development helps us organize appropriate learning environments and plan developmentally appropriate learning activities. The Piaget's four stages are:

The Sensorimotor Stage (Birth- 18months/2years)

The characteristic limitation of this stage is “thinking only by doing“. The sensorimotor infant's main concern is developing motor control, and coordination with information from the senses.

Preoperational Stage (2-7 years)

These are actually preschool years. At this stage, children develop the ability to think symbolically and use language to express their thoughts, needs, feelings and observations. The preoperational child is also unaware of another person's perspective. They exhibit egocentric thought and language.

Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years)

This stage represents elementary grade years. The concrete operational child begins to think logically. The operational thought is reversible; the concrete operational child can operate an action, and then go back to the original condition. For instance, 3+2=5 and 5-2=3.

Formal Operational Stage (11 years and Beyond)

After roughly 11 years, students have the ability to consider many possibilities for a given condition. Formal operational thinkers can recognize and identify a problem. They can state several alternative hypotheses, execute procedures to collect information about the problem to be studied, and test the hypotheses.

In Pakistan, we really have to tackle very aggressively education of under l5 which is nearly 40% of the population (roughly 64 million) and adult literacy program. Nearly 50 million Pakistanis (half the country's adult population) cannot read. Only 60 percent of Pakistani children complete I0 years of school, and only 10 percent complete I2 years. In Pakistan, we need to look at teacher /student ratio while examining the effect of child-centered teaching approaches. NEEC has bigger challenges and opportunities to grow and play a leading role in the education of our children across Pakistan. This quarter, we been fortunate to discuss advancing children education in Baluchistan, NWFP and Punjab whereas in the last six months we were concentrating on Sindh and Baluchistan only. In addition the faculty of NEEC focuses on training of science teachers through holding 2-3 weeks workshops.

Note: This message was written for NEEC's quarterly newsletter (Jan-Mar-2010) by Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nasim.

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