Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.

Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.

Cognitive development is a form of psychological research which emphasizes on the
mental development of a child and their ability to comprehend and think. Various psychologists
have contributed immensely to this field of research in an attempt of understanding childhood
development from a cognitive perspective. Perfect examples are Jean Piaget and Lev-Vygotsky.Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.
The former created the theory of cognitive development which has progressively shaped
developmental research into what it is currently. The latter discovered the socio -cultural theory
which was a form of criticism to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.
Despite the fact that each psychologist had similar goals and understanding of children’s
mental development, they generated significantly different theories with different information.
This paper compares and contrasts Piaget’s theory and Vygotsky’s theory of human development
and learning. It also discusses the role of attention, thinking, and memory in information
processing in infancy and childhood development and essential aspects in the study of
meta-cognition in child development. Understanding the thoughts of each psychologist is
essential in understanding cognitive function in childhood development.


Caregivers, parents and
healthcare providers can easily understand the process of cognitive development and their
thought processes. With this knowledge, it will also be easier to understand the thought processes
of children to influence positive changes in behavior.Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.
Comparison And Contrast of Piaget’s Theory and Vygotsky’s Theory of Human

Development and Learning

Jean Piaget was the founder of the theory of cognitive development and he theorized the
reasoning and intellectual abilities of humans in a series of four steps. In his theory, he
emphasized on the essence of the interaction that exists between maturation development factors and the environment which may occur through the processes of: assimilation, accommodation
and equilibration (Santrock, 2014). As a result, he concluded that, cognitive abilities develop in
stages with similar errors made while solving tasks. However, to progress to the next stage a
child should perform proficiently in every stage. The main stages that were theorized by Piaget
include: sensorimotor (birth-2 years), pre-operational stage (2-7 years), concrete operational
stage (7-12 years) and the formal operational stage (12 years – adulthood) (Santrock, 2014).
The sensorimotor stage is characterized by order in the progression of complex
development of cognitive function with preservative errors. The pre-operational age is marked by
development in language through the use of symbols and mastering the conservation concept. At
this stage, most children are egocentric and have trouble with making conversations (Santrock,
2014). In the concrete operational stage, children tend to adequately understand conversations
and show marked growth in their ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. In the
formal operational stage which is the last is characterized by a lot of capability and formality in
abstract thinking.Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.
In comparison, Lev-Vygotsky theorized the socio-cultural cognitive development theory
which focuses on influences from the cultural and environmental perspectives on cognitive
development of a child. Therefore, he assumes that cognitive development is different across
cultures. This differs from Piaget’s view of universal stages of cognitive development which are
the same across cultures (Santrock, 2014). To add on, Lev-Vygotsky laid a lot of emphasis on
social factors as key contributors to cognitive development which originates from guided
learning. This is totally different from Piaget who remained to the fact that cognitive
development is determined by independent explorations where children are able to construct individual knowledge (Santrock, 2014). Hover, they both agreed on the essence of active
environment interaction for development with more focus on the social environment.
Role of Attention, Thinking, and Memory in Information Processing In Infancy and

Childhood Development

Attention, thinking and memory play a significant role in influencing the verbal and non-
verbal communication skills of a child during development. For instance, as one of the major
components of information processing, attention tends to dictate the extent to which a child will
concentrate or not concentrate to collect information that may be perceived important from the
surrounding environment (Lee, 2013). For example, in a public environment where several
activities are ongoing; it is would be difficult for a child to process information without paying
attention. In such an environment, different kinds of information enter the brain through different
senses. This information can be discarded or processed.Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper. Children have the ability to focus on a
task with adequate attention and leave out other distractors that may exist. Similarly, they can
easily be distracted by activities that surround their environments which hinder the ability to
adequately process information (Santrock, 2014). However, depending on age from infancy, the
ability to control pay attention and process information tends to differ and gradually increase
with age.
Similarly, thinking and memory are important components in information processing
which reflect the ability of a child to encode, store and retrieve previously collected information.
In infancy and childhood development, thinking and memory promote the ability of children to
process short term and long term information and to respond accordingly. Being able to control a
thinking process by focusing on a specific part of the memory reveals the ability of children to control the information to be processed depending on the various stages of childhood

Important Aspects in the Study of Meta-cognition in Child Development
Meta-cognition basically refers to the understanding or awareness of individual thought
processes. It may also refer to cognitive processes that promote the understanding, analysis and
regulation of thought processes. Knowledge in meta-cognition is often obtained through
experiences, knowledge and memory (Santrock, 2014). In child development, the most
significant aspects in the study of meta-cognition include; a child having knowledge of the
processes and structures of a task, knowledge on the strategies to accomplish a task and the
knowledge associated with individual’s abilities and qualities to execute a task. That is; person,
task and strategy variables.
Person variables include the recognition of the weaknesses and strengths of a child in
learning and processing of information. Task variables include the ability of a child to
comprehend and process the demands needed to accomplish a task and strategy involves the
ability of a child to flexibly apply strategies to complete a task successfully. In the
aforementioned aspects for childhood development, meta-memory plays a significant role through
the mental memory functions of recall, forget and remember (Santrock, 2014). As a result, it is
possible to understand and gauge the ability of a child to memorize a person related to a memory
or a task and the methods developed to elicit or maintain memory.Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.
As a powerful skill in building the resilience of children in childhood development, the
study of meta-cognition should reveal the ability of a child to reflect on their thoughts which will
help children and caregivers to gain insight into their needs, behaviors and feelings. As a result,
it would be possible to understand how children can be helped to manage, learn and adapt to newer experiences, emotional setbacks and challenges. The study of meta-cognition in childhood
development helps in developing strategies to teach them how to proactively use meta-cognition
as a powerful tool in overcoming obstacles.

Current Events in Cognitive Childhood Development

In an article titled Praise for Toddlers in the Right Way Predicts Long-Term Cognitive
Development, Gunderson et al., (2018), explain why and how praise and adulation for a child
works in different ways and not for other children with regards to lifelong success. According to
the article, it is explained that, the cognitive development of children tends to improve when a
toddler is praised by his/her parents for trying hard (Gunderson et al., 2018). This finding was
supported by a study that sought to find the association between later cognitive ability and early
praise experiences in a child’s life.
The praise being referred to in this case is process praise rather than personal praise
which tends to acknowledge the efforts of a child in a given task. Children tend to develop a
strong belief that intelligence is not only open to change but also flexible through effort
especially at the age of 7-8 years old. When faced with difficulty, children who tend to have an
incremental mindset are more likely to sustain their efforts in the face of difficulty (Gunderson et
al., 2018). This can be attributed to the fact that they strongly believe that effort and
achievement are related rather than ability. For children who believe in the fixed nature of
intelligence, although they might remain motivated in the face of difficulty, they are more likely
to struggle. Besides, they have high chances of being faced with fear of failure which may
expose their fixed inability.
With regards to this topic, I feel that this information provides a good ground in
incorporating a mindset approach with teachers and parents in promoting cognitive development in young children (Santrock, 2014). The process of praise serves as an incremental motivation
that promotes the willingness of children to handle tasks that seem to be more challenging and
difficult. The only significant factor in this case therefore is the mindset of a child. However,
parents and teachers ought to be mindful of the risks that accompany process praise such as
hyperbolic over-praise. This is likely to discourage the inspiration of children in taking
challenges, especially those with a low self-esteem which negatively impacts cognitive
development and information processing.Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.


Cognitive development theories provide an understanding on cognitive function in
childhood development. Some of the well-known theorists who contributed to the theory of
cognitive development are: Jean Piaget and Lev-Vygotsky. While Piaget considers cognitive
development to be universal across all cultures through four stages, Lev-Vygotsky laid more
emphasis on cultural influence on cognitive development and how it varied across cultures. In
the study of metacognition in child development, the most essential factors are knowledge,
experiences and memory. Knowledge in cognitive development is important for caregivers,
parents and healthcare providers as it promotes the understanding of thought processes that can
be used to influence positive changes in behavior.



Gunderson E. A., Sorhagen N.S., Gripshover S.J., Dweck C. S., Goldin-Meadow S., & Levine S.
C, (2017). Praise for Toddlers in the Right Way Predicts Long-Term Cognitive
Development. Developmental Psychology. Available at . Accessed on
Lee, K. (2013). Childhood cognitive development: The essential readings. Malden, Mass:
Santrock, J. W. (2014). Child development: An introduction. (14 Ed) New York: McGraw-
Hill Higher Education. ISBN-13: 9780078035333

Cognitive Developmental Theories Study Paper.

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