The main goal of this research paper is to present, analyse, critisize and finally creatively synthesize three important trends or variations of contemporary epistemological theory, using as a compass in this quest their possible practical implementation in the context of teaching young children.
The theories presented are: Piaget’s “Genetic Epistemology” and it’s extension to the cognitive development of children, Gagne’s Theory of Instruction, and finally an assortment of views and theoritical aspects that rather fall under the newly formed research area of “Cognitive Information Processing Theory”.
The Reader of this paper will notice that although these theories start from relatively different premises or methodological backgrounds, they finally reach practical conclusions that are in accord. Of course, through each one, different aspects of human mental capabilities and functions are uncovered and described but this is a fact that can only enhance the satisfaction felt by their successful synthesis.
The paper is divided into five (5) main parts:
1. Piaget’s Theory.
2. Gagne’s Theory.
3. Cognitive Theory.
4. Application of Learning Theories in Class.
5. Case Study
The forth part centers in the practical value of each theory, and illustrates the points presented by means of specific strategies and examples. The fifth part is a complete and relatively specific case study that combines all the conclusions reached in previous parts of the paper into a coherent and comprehensive instruction guide which pertains to a specific group of students.
Jean Piaget’s Biography (1896-1980)
Piaget was born at Neuchatel, Switzerland in 1896. He is considered one of the most influential developmental theorists of the twentieth century, though psychology was not his primary interest. His early research was on the behavior of mollusks, and by the age of 21 he had published some 25 papers on the subject. He received a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Neuchatel in 1918 at the age of 22 and had completed all the requirements short of a dissertation for another Ph.D. in Philosophy. His early studies of the behavior of simple organisms gave rise to interests in comparing external behavior with the principles of cognitive organization and in the nature of intelligence. These interests crystallized while he worked in the laboratory of Alfred Binet, who, along with Theodore Simon, designed and standardized the first formal intelligence test.
Piaget was primarily interested in genetic epistemology, the study of the origin and development of human knowledge. In his approach, he sought to unify biology with principles of logic. Based on his work in Binet’s laboratory, Piaget decided to begin his study of genetic epistemology by observing and talking with children, noting how they developed concepts and language, interacted with objects and developed the semiotic function. This “brief detour” into the study of cognitive development lasted some 50 years; it was not until 1970 that he published his book entitled “Genetic Epistemology”.
During his lifetime, Piaget taught and conducted research at several universities in Switzerland and France. From 1955 until his death in 1980, he directed the International Center of Genetic Epistemology in Geneva, and scholars throughout the world referred to Piaget and his colleagues as “the Geneva group”. At his death, Piaget had produced more than 300 papers, book chapters and introductions as well as some thirty books on cognitive development, the largest collection of theory and observation on the topic to have come from a single individual.
While Piaget’s research methods and interpretations have been criticized, the basic thrust of his arguments about cognitive development are widely accepted. His observation that concepts once thought to be “a priori”, simple and unitary (such as time, causality, and object permanence) were none of these, but actually require long periods of development through a predictable series of stages before reaching adult form. Piaget’s research and theory has and will continue to generate a huge body of scholarly work throughout the world.
Piaget’s theory of Genetic Epistemology
Piaget was not a psychologist by training. He was a remarkable scientist who studied various aspects of adaptation in the animal kingdom. His interest in psychology began when he watched his own three children playing and interacting (Morris, 1996). From there, he began to study how humans -- and children in particular -- learn. Learning is, after all, perhaps the greatest adaptive step in the history of mankind. He called his new field “Genetic Epistemology”.
Piaget’s biological study led him to believe that all species have two innate, inherited basic tendencies, or “invariant functions.”
These functions are:
1.Organization: Combining, arranging, recombining and rearranging of behaviors and thoughts into coherent systems (Woolfolk, 1995). What this means is that human beings have a need to organize their thoughts and knowledge into workable groups, or schemes. For example, children are seemingly born with a scheme for suckling. They can suckle their mother’s breast, and when you present a child with a bottle or pacifier, they apply that scheme to the bottle or pacifier. As we learn more and more information, our schemes become more and more complex--from the simple (suckling) to the complex (preparing this paper on Microsoft Word).
2.Adaptation: Adjusting to the environment (Woolfolk, 1995). Piaget believed humans are constantly adjusting or adapting to the environment, making things work better. We are on an ongoing mission to understand more, and to understand better.
Adaptation involves two processes:
•Assimilation: Assimilation is the process of using existing schemes to incorporate new information (Woolfolk, 1995). This is the example of the child adapting to the bottle or pacifier, or the student learning how to use a different aspect of Microsoft Word. To achieve this, however, we often distort the new information to make it fit. For example, if the above mentioned baby were handed a cactus, he would be likely to try to suckle it. Or, a child who has a dog and has never seen a cat is likely to say, “Dog! Dog!” when he sees a cat.
•Accommodation: Altering existing schemes or creating new ones in response to new information (Woolfolk, 1995). When the child who confused the dog and the cat learns that dogs are dogs and cats are cats, he will build a new scheme for cats. This is accommodation.
One other concept that should be included with these concepts is equilibration. This is the search for mental balance between cognitive schemes and information from the environment (Woolfolk, 1995). This is, in short, the process we use to make sense of the information we assimilate or accommodate and see how well it “balances” with the world.
According to Piaget, assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration interact to form the foundation for intellectual growth. In the “Origins of Intelligence”, he explains about assimilation: “Intelligence is assimilation to the extent that it incorporates all the given data of experience within its framework. Whether it is a question of thought which, due to judgment, brings the new into the known and thus reduces the universe to its own terms or whether it is a question of sensorimotor intelligence which also structures things perceived by bringing them into its schemata, in every case intellectual adaptation involves an element of assimilation, that is to say of structuring through incorporation of external reality into forms due to the subject’s activity.” (Piaget, 1952 p. 6)
Then Piaget ties in accommodation: “There can be no doubt either, that mental life is also accommodation to the environment. Assimilation can never be pure because by incorporating new elements into its earlier schemata the intelligence constantly modifies the latter in order to adjust them to new elements. Conversely, things are never known by themselves, since this work of accommodation is only possible as a function of the inverse process of assimilation.”(Piaget, 1952 p. 6,7)
He concludes by stating that: “In short, intellectual adaptation, like every other kind consists of putting an assimilatory mechanism and a complementary accommodation into progressive equilibrium. . . Always and everywhere adaptation is only accomplished when it results in a stable system, that is to say, when there is equilibrium between accommodation and assimilation.” (Piaget, 1952 p. 7)
The mind is constantly taking in new information and trying to make sense of it within the framework of existing schemata. To the extent that new information is consistent with old understandings, the new information is assimilated into the existing schemata. On the other hand, if new information is in conflict with old schemata, then the mind will do one of three things:
1.It may reject the new data by ignoring it or rejecting its validity.
2.It may alter the perception to match the expected observations.
3.The new information may create cognitive conflict, or disequilibrium, that is resolved by
accommodating the old schemata, or beliefs, to fit the new data.
Schemata, in my view, represent a set of cognitive structures that stand for what we call a person’s beliefs. Of course the existence of a framework of schemata within a person’s mind is an assumption, or a helpful convention if you like. However I find it helpful to think in terms of having a framework of schemata, as an intermediary between the observable input and the observable change of beliefs. I believe that an adequate understanding of this process comes with time as one notices how new perceptions affect change in his/her beliefs.
Piaget’s understanding of learning in children comes from observing the interaction between children’s observations and their existing knowledge. Piaget always tried to perceive reality from the child’s point of view; he never thought that reality as he understood it would suffice for his purpose. It was this method of using the child as a source of information, rather than imposing a wrongly presumed adult structure upon the child’s behavior, that led to Piaget’s unique understanding of how children perceive the world.
Piaget pioneered in suggesting that perceptions are simultaneously connected to many different areas of the brain. In his words even the “most elementary perceptions . . . are simultaneously related to each other and structured into organized totalities.” (Piaget, 1952 p. 10) These relationships are then structured into organized totalities. The way I understand it, these totalities are like schemata through which judgments about the world are made. Actually the set of these totalities represents an intricate model of the world as we have come to experience and thus understand it. When new perceptions conflict with the existing schemata, the mind reacts to this disequilibrium by accommodating to find equilibrium. As Piaget put it: “Desirability is the indication of a rupture in equilibrium or of an uncompleted totality to whose formation some element is lacking and which tends toward this element in order to realize its equilibrium.” (Piaget, 1952 p. 11) In other words, the mind desires the joy that equilibrium offers and thus works (in fact works hard) toward it; a process in fact resulting in a natural drive to learn.
Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development
Piaget’s empirical chief work - that which made him first of all known as developmental psychologist - is a highly detailed description of the cognitive development of children from the infantile state of pure and simple reflexes to the adolescent-adult abstract thinking and concept-formation capabilities. His goal was to develop a taxonomy of the growing individual’s possibilities for thinking and respectively acting while uncovering the underlying cognitive workings.
Cognitive development is a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of maturation and experience. Children construct an understanding of the world around them, then experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment. The continual process of resolving these discrepancies moves the child’s intelligence into a more mature understanding
Piaget believed that heredity played a primary role in the process of cognitive development. He discovered that the organization of mental processes changed quite predictably with maturation, and characterized these processes into stages. These stages are referred to as the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage. Each of these stages represents a qualitative change is the child’s thinking.
Piaget’s main criteria in distinguishing between stages of development are summarized in the following requirements:
1. Each stage must represent a qualitative change in cognition.
2. Children progress through the stages in a culturally invariant sequence. Once a higher stage has
been entered, regression to a lower stage is not possible, and all normal children reach the last
3.Each stage includes the cognitive structures and abilities of the preceding stage.
4.At each stage, the child’s schemes and operations form an integrated whole.
Piaget’s stages of cognitive development are the following:
·The sensorimotor stage ranges from birth to about age 2. Infants learn mostly through trial and error processes. Children initially rely on reflexes, eventually modifying them to adapt to their world. Behaviors become goal directed, progressing from concrete to abstract goals. Objects and events take on a mental representation.
This stage has to do with the physical, motor responses of the infant as well as the senses. What is seen and heard is all that there is. For instance, if Mommy is gone, Mommy ceases to exist. In fact, the infant does not truly distinguish between himself and Mommy. There is no separation between the world and the self.
·The preoperational stage ranges from about ages 2 to 7. Children in this stage can mentally represent events and objects (the semiotic function), and engage in symbolic play. Their thoughts and communications are typically egocentric. They are only able to focus on one aspect or dimension of problems.
Egocentrism is the principal mental characteristic of this stage and it is manifested in the child’s assumption that others experience the world as it does. This is not a negative quality, as the term is often used in popular culture. In the preoperational child, it is manifested in behavior such as a child covering his eyes and thinking that since he can’t see anything, he is invisible.
·Children in the concrete operational stage are usually ages 7 to 11. They gain the abilities of conservation and reversibility. Thinking is more organized and rational. They can solve problems in a logical fashion, but are not typically able to think abstractly or hypothetically.
A concrete operational child can perform mental actions, but only where physical, “concrete” objects are concerned. Abstract thinking is lacking in the concrete operational child. For example, a concrete operational child can mentally arrange blocks on a table in several shapes without actually moving them, but he cannot present a valid description of what the world would be like if “compassion” was lacking.
In this stage children start mastering the ability of conservation. Conservation is the concept that some characteristics of an object remain the same despite changes in appearance. For example, a cup of water in a tall beaker is the same as a cup of water in a short, wide bowl. The preoperational child will not recognize this, and will pick one or the other as having more, even if he witnesses two equal cups of water being poured in them, but the concrete operational child will in fact recognize that the amount of water is conserved.
·The formal operation stage occurs at about age 11. As adolescents enter this stage, they gain the ability to think in an abstract manner, the ability to combine and classify items in a more sophisticated way, and the capacity for higher-order reasoning. Central to this stage is the capability for formal operations..
A formal operational thinker can think abstractly about real and unreal objects and situations. This thinker is no longer tied to the physical. With formal operational children, one can use “what if...” scenarios.
Criticism on Piaget’s Theory
Replication of Piaget’s experiments has shown that not all children reach the formal operational stage. Interestingly enough, there are studies to suggest that many people either never develop fully as a formal operational thinker, or that they revert back to Concrete thinking most of the time. (Neimark, 1975 and Piaget, 1974) Other studies have shown that some early concrete operational children temporarily regress in reasoning.
Also, Gelman suggests that Piaget’s findings may only be relative to the particular tasks that Piaget used and the question of whether or not the stages are continuous has been raised many times. On the other hand, Piaget’s almost absolute time frames of the various stages of cognitive development make it almost impossible for learning to be accelerated, while various experiences from experimental educational systems in some cases testifies otherwise.
Finally there are studies indicating that children have an inability to master different tasks based on the same principle.
Children’s conception of whole and parts
With a couple of coworkers Piaget investigated what happens if you give children of different ages the simple task of cutting some cardboard into pieces. Each of them got a number of white squares of cardboard, of about 7 cm2 of area and received the instruction that they could cut it any way they liked. Using the pieces they had to cover an orange square after they were previously brought to realize that the white and the orange squares were equal. After that they received the instruction to cut the square into 2, 3, or 4 pieces in all possible ways. Lastly, they had to cut it into 2, 3, or 4 equal pieces.
As in previous investigations the performances are divided into three main-levels, which can have sub-levels. Level II is the transition-level where the task is solved in relation to concrete materials and actions. Below are some of the results and comments of the experiment, especially from “free cutting”.
At the first level the pieces are ascribed a special meaning or self-value. They are independent of the whole (the big cardboard-square which had been cut into pieces). This is not the case where the “pieces” or the “parts” without this relation to the whole lead to a semantic question, as when you say “a piece of music” to designate a limited whole which is independent. The difficulty is in the spatial inclusion of the different pieces or what we could call “conservation of space”. One can see that if he/she poses the question: “What is a piece?” - Answer: “It is something you have cut out.” - “And the other piece?” - “There are no more!”
As an example we can take little Nic who is just five and a half year. After having verified the similarity with the orange square and got the task to cover it with the pieces of the white, she cuts out a very small square. “How many pieces are there?” - “One.” - “And what is it called?” - “A square too.” - “Can you cover the orange?” - (She places her small square). - “And with this (the rest) what do you do?” - “You can take it too.” - “Is it a piece too?” - “No, it is not a piece.” - “Do you have another idea?” - (She cuts a small triangle from another cardboard) “A triangle!” - “How many pieces are there?” - “One.” - “Can you cover the orange?” - “It becomes too small... you put the other end” - “Another idea?” - (She cuts.) “A rectangle”. - “Can you cover?” - “Still too small, you take the rest.” - “How many pieces are there (showing all of them)?” - “Also one.” - “Still an idea?” - “A round.” - “Still more?” - “No, not other ideas.”
The reactions show that the task of cutting a square into pieces do not mean to partition it but to cut out something which has its own significance. The whole ceases to exist. It is destructed and there are only “ends” or “rests”. Even if some uses the rests to cover the orange square there are no signs of conservation of the original whole.
At level II the possibilities unfold. The activity of cutting is a procedure which can lead to many goals or in reverse, an activity which can in many ways lead to a goal. At the transitory level of 7-8 years of age one witnesses great inventiveness although the use of asymmetrical cuts is increased. This broad realization of what was possible due to the procedure as such is a significant point.
At level III with the free cutting we have VAL who is 9 years old. After some preliminary asymmetrical divisions VAL makes a cross, which connects the opposing sides and from there goes to a system of foldings which can result in millions of partitions.
When it comes to the constricted tasks, for instance to part the cardboard-square into a number of pieces, there is a greater tendency to both count the cutout and the “rest” as pieces. At level III the demand for two equal pieces further leads to a consideration of the surfaces which may be cut in many fancy ways. Partitioning of the cardboard into three parts is very difficult for the youngest and is in some cases declared as impossible.
We have seen a development of the procedural which is the same as formation of new possibilities. There is, as Piaget formulates it the case of “an accommodative activity in search of its form of actualization”(Piaget, 1952). When it gets its form it belongs to the real, it is written into a schema. But the new, the possible is born first of a disequilibrium which starts reequilibration as a process which ends up with something which was outside the reach of the schema. The accommodatory process met with hindrances and blockings in the real world and overcame them in a constructive process which for instance can be expressed by the fact that the cutouts and rests immediately became parts of a whole which is reconstructed. After the age of 7-8 there is a balance between part and whole.
The Child: Key Principles for a Healthy Cognitive Development
The character of children’s development is holistic. What this means is that the child’s development cannot be compartmentalised into health, nutrition, education, social, and emotional variables. All are interwoven in a child’s life.
Contemporary psychologists hold firmly to a belief that early childhood experiences for children, at whatever age, should be planned around the child’s developmental abilities. Support for this position comes from international literature on how children develop and learn.
• Development begins pre-natally and learning starts at birth. Too often the wrong assumption is made that learning begins when children enter the formal school system. In fact, significant learning takes place before the child enters school. Therefore, attention to the developmental and learning needs of children should begin with pre- and post-natal interventions and be continued thereafter.
• Development has several inter-related dimensions. These include physical, cognitive, social, spiritual and emotional development, each of which influence the other and all of which are developing simultaneously. Progress in one area affects progress in others. Likewise when something goes wrong in any one of those areas it impacts all the other areas. For example, children who are malnourished are not able to learn; children with learning problems frequently have low self-esteem, etc. Developing a program based on an understanding of holistic development means taking the whole child into consideration, providing attention to the child’s health, nutrition, cognitive, and socio-emotional needs. Therefore interventions should provide integrated attention to the child, including attention to needs for protection, food, health care, affection, interaction and stimulation, security provided through consistency and predictability, and play allowing exploration. All of these elements should be present to support the child’s development.
• Development proceeds in predictable steps and learning occurs in recognized sequences, within which there is a great deal of individual and social variability in children’s rates of development and styles of learning. It is important for adults to use methods that fit with the child’s growth pattern, not only in the cognitive area, but also in all other important areas mentioned above. Activities should provide the child with a developmentally appropriate challenge. There is no value in presenting concepts and tasks before a child is developmentally ready to understand them. Integrated interventions promoting social, emotional and spiritual development as well as cognitive learning can take advantage of varied forms of learning, consistent with the particular culture, even while taking into account the fact that there are recognized sequences and activities that facilitate learning.
• Development and learning occur continuously as a result of the child’s interacting with people and objects in his or her environment. The role of adults (at home and in other settings) in supporting children’s learning is to provide children with opportunities to work with concrete objects, to make choices, explore things and ideas, experiment and discover. Children also need opportunities to interact with peers and adults in a safe environment that provides the child with security and acceptance. Given the importance of the environment in promoting children’s learning, it is also possible to focus interventions on changing the child’s environment. For example, increasing family income, upgrading health and sanitation in the community, and enhancing the social and political milieu will affect children’s growth and development.
• Children are active participants in their own development and learning. Learning and related development involve the child’s construction of knowledge, not an adult’s imposition of information. The skills which are the basis for constructing knowledge improve with practice. It is important for children to have opportunities to construct their own knowledge through exploration, interaction with materials and imitation of role models. Therefore interventions should include opportunities for children to learn by doing, to be engaged in problem-solving, and to develop language and communication skills. Passive memorization as a way of learning should not be reinforced. Opportunities for active involvement should abound, whether at home, in everyday chores or in more organized settings outside the home.
In conclusion, providing “paideia” based on a holistic understanding of children’s growth and development suggests a using a broad concept of early childhood development: addressing the whole child within the context of the family and community. The early childhood years are perceived as the basis for learning life-long skills and attitudes. Activities and programs planned for parents and young children should not focus solely on providing children with school survival skills, but should emphasize the development of the child’s sense of intellectual, motor and moral autonomy, initiative and self esteem. Emphasis should be on how to learn rather than what to learn.
Born in 1916 in North Andover, Massachusetts, Gagne attended Yale University where he obtained an A.B. in 1937. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Brown University in 1940 and taught at Connecticut College for Women from 1940-49 and at Pennsylvania State University from 1945-46. From 1949-58 Gagne was research director of the perceptual and motor skills laboratory of the US. Air Force, at which time he began to develop some of the ideas that would go into his comprehensive learning theory called the “conditions of learning”. His research on military training problems while working for the Air Force and his experience as consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense (1958-61) helped him see that the “grand learning theories” of his predecessors were inadequate for the design of instruction.
Gagne’s theory of Teaching-Learning
Around this time Gagne began to formulate three principles that he saw as contributing to successful instruction:
1.Providing instruction on the set of component tasks that build toward a final task.
2.Ensuring that each component task is mastered.
3.Sequencing the component tasks to ensure optimal transfer to the final task.
He published an article in 1962 entitled “Military Training and the Principles of Learning” that discussed these ideas. Gagne first published his best known book “The Conditions of Learning” in 1965.
Gagne’s early investigations into the psychological bases of effective teaching led him to believe that an instructional technology or theory must go beyond traditional learning theory. Gagne concluded that instructional theory should address the specific factors that contribute to the learning of complex skills. He described these factors in a 1968 article entitled “Learning Hierarchies”. Gagne next identified five unique categories of learning: verbal information, intellectual skills, attitudes, motor skills and cognitive strategies. These categories represent different capacities and performances and are learned in different ways. They are outlined in Gagne’s 1972 article, “Domains of Learning”.
After establishing his domains of learning Gagne went on to describe the environmental events and stages of information processing required for each of these domains in the 1977 edition of his book, “The Conditions of Learning”. The main aim of Gagne’s theory is to assist in classroom instruction. The skills to be learned are written in the form of performance objectives and the specific type of learning is identified. Task analysis is then employed to identify prerequisite skills and “instructional events” are chosen for each learning objective. The major contribution of Gagne’s approach is that it operationalizes the notion of cumulative learning and offers a mechanism for designing instruction from simple to complex levels. Gagne’s concept of hierarchies has become a standard component of curricula in a variety of subject areas. His theory provides a unified framework for a wide range of findings about learning such as those from information processing studies.
Since 1969 Gagne has been a Professor in the Department of Educational Research at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Concerning his life’s work, Gagne told “Contemporary Authors”: “My writing began with articles in scientific journals reporting studies of human learning. Experience as an aviation psychologist in World War II influenced a positive attitude toward applications of learning knowledge. For the past twenty-five years I have written articles and books that attempt to interpret and to apply the findings of learning research and learning theory, mainly to school learning. My current view about instructional design is that much of its good technology is being put to use in instructional training, but not much is being put to use in the schools.”
Gagne’s “The Conditions of Learning” (1965) has undergone development and revision for 20 years, the last edition appearing in 1985. With behaviorist roots, it now brings together cognitive information processing perspective on learning with empirical findings on what good teachers do in their classroom.
In 1985 Gagne introduced the “Taxonomy of Learning Outcomes” that include knowledge and comprehension in its verbal information; and discrimination, concrete concepts, defined concepts, rules, and higher order rules in its intellectual skills.
In Gagne and Driscoll (1988) the “Essential of Learning for Instruction”, they summarized the external conditions that are essential for learning the different varieties of outcomes known as the building blocks for instruction.
In order to plan what learning conditions should be present in instruction, Gagne, Briggs and Warner in their fourth edition of the “Principles of Instructional Design” (1992) recommended categorizing learning goals according to the type of outcome they represent.
Gagne’s instructional theory is widely used in the design of instruction by instructional designers in many settings, and its continuing influence in the field of educational technology can be seen cited in prominent journals in the field .
Gagne’s Theories of Instruction
Robert Gagne began the pioneering work in developing task analysis skill hierarchies with Leslie Briggs. Gagne was a major force during the 1960’s when components of instructional design process were being recognized. In this early, behaviorist in nature work he developed the idea of a task analysis or the “Hierarchical Nature of Skill Building” which follows a simple task hierarchy in order to build skills. An example of this theory is illustrated as follows:
Reading a paragraph (depends on) è
Reading a sentence (depends on) è
Understanding the meaning of words (depends on) è
Such an emphasis on skill hierarchy is based on the foundations of behavioral psychology which bases theories on observable behavior. Once behaviors are assessed and observed, a task analysis is used to break down the components attributable to skill acquisition. Within these skill hierarchies, there were originally eight Types of Learning which Gagne distinguished; signal learning, stimulus-response learning, chaining, verbal association, discrimination learning, concept learning, principle learning, and problem solving.
Later, Gagne restructured these Types of Learning and constructed five major Outcomes for learning as follows:
1. Verbal Information : Being able to state previously learned material (listing symptoms of cancer)
2. Intellectual skills : (With five subcategories: discriminations, concrete concepts, defined concepts, rules, and higher order rules) Be able to discriminate objects or features (hear different pitches), be able to identify concrete concepts or features (pick all the green M & Ms), use defined concepts, and follow rules.
3. Cognitive Strategies : Personalize ways to guide learning, thinking, feeling (devise own corporate plan).
4. Attitudes : Act as you feel (exercise to maintain good health).
5. Motor Skills : Use muscles to perform specific actions (perform a triple off the diving board).
Gagne espoused that there are a variety of learning conditions which should be used to teach each of the outcomes; a learning condition provides the meaningful context for instruction. Robert Gagne believes that within any learning hierarchy, less complex skills transfer positively to more complex skills (Gagne, 1970). Once skills are taught, they are able to be generalized and applied to other situations. Therefore, Gagne believes that learning is cumulative; that is, skills build on skills to achieve higher levels of learning, while this learning is developed intellectually by teachers through planned or directed learning. Gagne does not believe that learning is dependent on age. Such directed learning assumes that learning is sequential, universal , determinable, countable, and objectively defined.
Upon such a premise then, Gagne developed the Nine Events of Instruction to guide teachers’ instruction (each event is followed by specific example):
1. Gaining attention (Teacher flip lights on and off to gain students’ attention).
2. Informing learner of the objective (Teacher tells students what they will study - Syllabus).
3. Stimulating recall of prerequisites (Teacher reviews yesterday’s lesson).
4. Presenting the stimulus material (Books, and/or a film in order to meet desired outcome).
5. Providing learning guidance (Show an example of a problem).
6. Eliciting the performance (Ask students to solve 10 questions).
7. Providing feedback (Reinforcement and error correction of material learned).
8. Assessing the performance (Does student perform new skill, tests, skill demonstrations?).
9. Enhancing retention and transfer (Is student able to generalize and transfer skills to new problems
Robert Gagne’s theoretical work contributed to the field of education and design of instruction. His belief in sequential skill hierarchical learning, in order to obtain specific domains of outcomes, taught under specific conditions for learning has been valued in the field of education since the 1960’s. Much of this earlier work was premised on behaviorist notions .
However, in his later work, Gagne developed theories about learning which expanded to include Cognitive Information Processing Theories. In the book, “Instructional Technology Foundations” (Gagne, 1987) Gagne discussed the relevance of the analogy of the mind to a computer. Humans receive sensory input, process such information in the short term or long term memory which interact, transfer, and store information using an elaborate code, and then utilize such information to solve new problems and/or to produce output or an end product. Gagne recognized the important role cognition plays in learning.
In conclusion, Robert Mills Gagne has written many books incorporating the assumptions and scientific approaches used in Behaviorist and Cognitive Information Processing Theories as a basis for his learning theories. Indeed, he is most well known for his contribution to instruction as he has been active in developing instructional objectives for training to assist in classroom instruction.
During the 1940’s, psychologists and other scientists, those who would become known as the “forefathers of cognitive science,” had grown impatient with behaviorist views which did not deal with the brain and “higher-level perceptual and problem-solving processes.” For example, “questions about . . . human language, planning, problem solving, imagination,” and other human activities, could not be “approached” with behaviorist theory. They felt that understandings of the brain and the characteristics of computation could be merged together “in the study of cognitive systems.” This first generation of cognitive scientists were not concerned with the human brain or the nervous system. Instead, their research focused on the “properties of thought” as “simulated by the computer.” (Gardner, 1985)
In 1936, Alan Turing, a British mathematician, developed a simple computing machine, called a “Turing machine,” based on a simple binary code that could be programmed to carry out mathematical calculations. Scientists interested in human thought quickly became interested in Turing’s machine and his work and believed that they could design a computing machine that could simulate or even duplicate human thought processes. During the same time period, an electrical engineer at MIT, Claude Shannon, using principles of logic, developed “the key notion of information theory.” Research into the idea of information processing continued into the 1940’s, and, in fact, much of the early research occurred as a result World War II and the work undertaken with the many victims of brain damage. As “cognitive science,” as it came to be known, grew, it drew scientists from many disciplines, including psychology, philosophy, engineering, computer science, linguistics, mathematics, medicine, anthropology, logic, and eventually, neuropsychology. (Gardner, 1985)
Among the “founders” of information processing, the most recognized is Herbert Simon. Through his research in artificial intelligence, engineering, and psychology, he drew an analogy between the computer and human mental processes. To him, information processing was an attempt to understand “the workings of the human mind in information processing terms. As such,” computer programming languages [were introduced] as formal [mathematical] languages for expressing theories of human mental processes.” (Simon, 1979)
Simon’s impact on information processing theory was profound, and in addition to a Nobel Prize in Economic Science, he received numerous awards in the fields of artificial intelligence, public administration, political science, and management science, including the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and the National Medal of Science from the President of the United States. (Klahr & Kotovsky, 1989)
Overview of Cognitive Theory
“According to the Cognitive Information Processing view, the human learner is conceived to be a processor of information in much the same way a computer is.” Information is input from the environment, processed, and stored in memory then output in the form of some learned capability. The models of memory and information processing can be traced to Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin, “who proposed a multistore, multistage theory of memory.” They believe that memory consists of three basic components: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. (Driscoll, 1994, p. 69.)
Sensory memory holds information for a very brief time. From here, information is transferred to short-term memory, or working memory. While in short-term memory, information is processed and prepared for long-term memory. Long-term memory is the “permanent storehouse.” For information to be remembered for longer than a few minutes, it has to be transferred to long-term memory. (Driscoll, 1994)
During the development of the theory, there was some argument by some researchers that there was only one memory store rather than both short and long-term memory. Atkinson and Shiffrin maintained the view that there was a division between short and long-term memory due to research with patients with damage to the hippocampal region of their brain. These patients were able to remember events prior to their injury or illness but were unable to remember new information for longer than 30 seconds. Information was not able to be transferred from short to long-term memory. (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1968) A recent illustration of this is with Jeremy C.; Jeremy is a young man in his mid-twenties who suffered a brain injury that damaged the pathway into the hippocampus. As a result, he has no short-term memory. He can remember most of his life before the injury and knows the people from his past, such as family members and friends, because his long-term memory is intact. He can’t, however, lay down any new memories. In order to cope with his moment to moment existence, he records everything that happens to him throughout the day onto a hand-held tape recorder. He then transcribes everything he recorded into a notebook at the end of the day. Again, with damage to the hippocampal region of his brain, Jeremy is unable to transfer any new information from short-term to long-term memory.
The cognitive information processing view “represents an integration of the behavioral and traditional cognitive positions.” Learning and behavior results from an interaction between the environment and the learner’s previous experiences and knowledge. It demands that each step and procedure of a mental operation be described in sufficient detail so that it can be simulated on a computer, which is consistent with traditional cognitive view. And, in addition, cognitive information processing view also requires that mental processes must be supported by experimental evidence, as required by behaviorist tradition. (Phye & Andre, 1986)
Howard (1995, p.19) highlights nine key assumptions relevant to Cognitive Information Processing Theory:
1. Psychology should study the mind. The mind is a device for representing the outside world
and manipulating the representations. Mental representations are symbols for things in the world, and the
mind is a program that runs on hardware (neurons).
2. Representations contain information and are manipulated by processes. There is a set of
representational primitives that are the building blocks of larger units. All cognitive phenomena can be
described in terms of representations and processes that intervene between observable stimuli and
3. A small number of elementary processes, perhaps only a few dozen, underlie all cognitive activity.
4. Processes operate together. They can combine into higher level routines with emergent properties.
Several processes may combine to perform a particular task, and so performance results from the
interaction of simpler processes.
5. Processing occurs in stages.
6. Cognitive theory is a description of how representations and processes interact in stages to produce performance.
7. Humans are active seekers of and selectors of information who formulate and act on rules.
8. Learning is constructing new mental representations or modifying existing ones.
9. Cognitive development occurs through self-modification; for example, through maturation, and learning.(Howard, 1995, p.19)
A variety of methodological procedures are employed by researchers in the area of learning and memory (Howard, 1995).
1.Archetypal experiments in learning and memory involve learning, retention and testing phases. The individual learns particular facts or skills in the learning phase, engages in another activity or rests, then is tested for retention. Subjects may also be tested with no initial learning phase, to measure exiting knowledge.
2.Recall tasks require the individual to learn and later remember a list of words. The number of correctly recalled words, reaction time, and order of recall may serve as the dependent variables.
3.Paired associates involve exposing individuals to word pairs, then later presenting the first word and having them remember the second in the testing phase.
4.Recognition presents individuals with a list of stimulus words then in the testing phase identifying the words they previously viewed from a list of previously viewed or unviewed words. Accuracy, reaction time, self ratings on perceived accuracy, and patterns of error can be employed as dependent measures for recall, recognition and the paired associates tasks.
5.Physiological methods such as PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) allow for the investigation of different areas of the brain that are involved in the performance of a particular task.
6.Self-reports by individuals can be employed as a measure of their knowledge and organization in a particular area of interest, and to gain an understanding of why they performed in a certain manner.
7.Neuropsychological evidence of how memory functions in the brain is provided through the study and examination of those individuals with damage to particular regions of the brain. The focus of this method is upon individual cases, unlike previous experimental methods.
8.Computer simulation is employed either in conjunction with subjects, or alone. Simulation requires the researcher to be very explicit about the memory and learning processes, and makes more salient the assumptions that may have previously been obscured or unnoticed.(Howard, 1995)
Types of Memory
Bornstein (1985) identifies five different types of memory systems that exist for individuals: visual, auditory, tactile, taste and smell.
1.Visual memory is identified as the predominant mode of memory. Generally, individuals are able to remember more of what they see than what they hear. The closer an individual observes, both attention to detail and the strength of the impression on visual memory will increase.
2.Auditory memory emphasizes the reproduction of phrases, words, numbers, ideas and concepts which have been heard. The phrasing and the intonation of the speakers voice can be registered in auditory memory.
3.Tactile memory refers more generally to motor memory which involves the retracing of a pattern through the sense of touch. The process of reproducing what has previously been written aids the individual to retrace patterns experienced through ones fingers. Dialing a phone number may involve both tactile and auditory memory.
4.Taste and Smell memory are not as heavily emphasized in the retention of facts and ideas as are visual, auditory and tactile. Individuals normally emphasize one mode of memory more than others, however, each of the three principal modes of memory interact and support one another.
Term adopted by Ausubel in 1978 to describe the meaningful learning processes of subsumption, superordinate and combinatorial learning. The result of the interaction that takes place between the new material to be learned and the existing cognitive structure is an assimilation of old and new meanings to form a more highly differentiated cognitive structure. It is of course obvious here that contemporary cognitive science is in agreement with Piaget’s conception of the assimilation process.
Application of Learning Theories in Class
Piaget’s Cognitive Theory
I think that schools should provide an environment that encourages children to express their beliefs including their misconceptions. The teacher’s responsibility must be to spot the misconceptions and create disequilibrium, or cognitive conflict. Only when students act upon knowledge, for instance by thinking or justifying, will any real change in their beliefs occur. Therefore, the teacher must assume an non authoritarian role because otherwise the students will probably memorize what the teacher says without coming into a state of disequilibrium. Students need to realize that the new information may or may not be correct so that their minds will check the new information to see if it fits the old schemata. If the new information fits, then it is assimilated, otherwise the conflict should result in accommodation or at least disequilibrium. I agree with Piaget that teachers need to be very careful not to camouflage misunderstandings by creating surface behaviors that appear correct, but are not attached to a belief structure in the child’s mind.
A teacher educator, would be very interested in the application of Piaget’s theory. To begin this process, the first thing that a teacher has to keep in mind is that the theory is very broad and general in nature. Second, he has to remember that the purpose of the theory is to explain how knowledge is gained and developed. Third, he should bear in mind that the theory is mainly applicable to children, not adults. The final thing to be remembered is that the theory child-centered and not teacher-centered. It is not meant to provide specific instruction on teaching techniques (like Gagne’s theory does), but only to offer an insightful explanation of the way children think and learn. Piaget’s theory, in my opinion, must be used by any “would be” teacher as a valuable reference for planning efficient teaching programs. As Brainerd (1978, p. 286) states, “the basic assumption seems to be that children’s minds, if planted in fertile soil, will grow quite naturally on their own.”
So where exactly does the teacher come into play? I believe that the role of the teacher is to provide this “fertile soil” , that Brainerd mentions, for the students. This is not something that comes easily to many teachers who are accustomed to the mentality of “providing knowledge to their students” instead of “allowing students to construct knowledge on their own.” Different theorists have different ideas about how to provide the “fertile soil” (i.e. Vygotsky, Bruner, Piaget, Montessori, etc.). But, the important point for teachers attempting to apply Piaget’s theory is to get out of the sometimes destructive mentality of transferring sterile alienated knowledge to students. A good student is one who discovers and actively remembers and not one who mechanically restates passively received information.
Even though it might be difficult for teachers to abandon this relatively popular method of instruction, Piaget’s theory does provide some ideas that make its application easier. The first of those is the structure and order that characterizes the theory. The theory provides teachers with basic types, stages, and processes of knowledge acquisition skill development. These ideas can be very helpful for teachers designing instruction techniques and generally attempting to apply the theory in class. Saettler (1990, p. 77) suggests that the most significant contribution of Piaget’s theory is that it provides teachers with a “new approach to the old problem of readiness, or developmental capacity.” In other words, the theory helps teachers better understand their students’ current level of knowledge and provides insight on how to move them to higher cognitive levels at the appropriate time.
In addition, Driscoll (1994) outlines three instructional principles that can be applied by teachers in designing instruction to help children gain and develop knowledge. Those principles are:
1.The learning environment should support the activity of the child.
2.Children’s interaction with their peers is an important source of cognitive development.
3.Teacher should adopt instructional strategies that make children aware of conflicts and
inconsistencies in their thinking.
These principles are basically general guidelines that teacher-theorists can keep in mind as they design instruction. Specific methods of instruction should also be based on the teacher’s knowledge of the individual student characteristics. No theory can help on its own, since teaching is above all a matter involving personal human relations and understanding of basic human needs.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Piaget’s Theory
Although, I have already included a criticism of Piaget’s theory - while presenting its theoretical aspects - I will again refer to its strengths and weaknesses but this time also stating their respective implications on the practice of teaching/instruction.
Based on both the strengths and weaknesses of Piaget’s theory many alternative theories have grown (i.e. Case, Klahr and Wallace, Siegler, Carey). I have outlined three basic strengths of Piaget’s theory in the preceding section. The first is the order and structure derived from the theory’s types of knowledge, stages of cognitive development, and processes of knowledge acquisition. A second strength is the guidance and insight it gives to teachers in determining student stages of cognition and on how to help students move to higher stages. A third strength is the general nature of the theory and the three guiding principles as outlined above.
As with most theories, this theory also has several weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses cut to the very core of Piaget’s theory. I will describe the two main weaknesses that I feel will affect any teacher practitioner.
The first weakness I have identified is that, as recent evidence suggests, not all students (or even adults) get to the formal operational stage of cognitive development. Even if students do get to that stage, they don’t seem to stay there. Driscoll (1994) provides references that support this view. Now, an educator can live with this weakness as long as he/she is dealing with students in the first three stages of knowledge development. It is the transition from the third to the fourth stage that can prove to be “extra” troublesome for a teacher. As a teacher, how does one deal with getting his/her students into the formal operational stage? Is this something he/she really should worry about ? Should he/she attempt to design instruction to help the students get to the final stage of cognitive development or is this an almost (if not totally) impossible task?
The second main weakness I can discern refers to two interrelated issues. First, are the stages of cognitive development continuous? The theory maintains that as a child progresses there is a qualitative change and a leap to the next stage. Is this really how knowledge is developed? Some argue that there seems to be a transition time when children move back and forth between stages. This obviously can pose problems to teachers as they attempt to determine at exactly what stage their students are functioning during this transition period.
In addition, Driscoll (1994), explains that sometimes children demonstrate unsuspected cognitive strengths or characteristics at lower stages of cognitive development. A possible explanation for this is given by some researchers who believe that the nature of the task presented to a child rather than the stage of development (or the age for that matter) is the critical factor in analyzing student characteristics. With this confounding factor in mind, educators will have a very difficult time determining the real stages of cognitive development of their students.
Gagne’s Theory of Instruction
Applying Gagne’s nine events (steps) of instruction in class can really enhance the efficiency of a teacher-practitioner. There are of course factors that have to be taken under consideration when these events are implemented, Specifically student characteristics must be considered and Gagne’s instruction events should be adjusted accordingly. Let’s look at them one by one:
1.Gaining attention can be omitted as an event when the motivation of learners can be
assumed. For many of instruction situations though, it is an essential event.
2.Informing learners of the objective of a lesson is almost always a good idea, except when the
objective is already apparent.
3.Stimulating recall of prior learning is usually a critical event, although it may not be
necessary for skillful self-learners.
4.Presenting the stimulus is always essential and is usually made more effective when features
are made highly distinctive.
5.Providing learner guidance is the event that most typically may be provided by the learner’s
use of cognitive strategies in self-instruction.
6.Eliciting performance. Skilled learners virtually always assure themselves of their own
7.Providing feedback is a step that usually accompanies the performance. Learners who are
engaging in self-instruction will seek accurate information about the adequacy of their performances. It is this event that completes the learning, and to omit it would be a serious mistake.
8.Assessing performance will usually be done by experienced learners in following up the
initial performance event.
9.Enhancing retention and transfer requires additional practice with a variety of examples and
situations. Theses will need to be supplied for most learners, but may often be independently sought out by learners who are organizing their own instruction .
Including more events than necessary is likely to lead to boredom on the part of the students. Providing fewer than is needed may provide for inadequate instruction.
Cognitive Information Processing Theory
Ausubel believed that there were two forms of learning that could take place in a classroom situation: Reception Learning and Discovery Learning.
•Reception Learning: entire content of material to be learned is presented in its final form.
Examples: textbooks, videos, lectures etc.
•Discovery Learning: the learner must rearrange the information, integrate it with existing cognitive structures and reorganize it to create the desired end product.
Examples: chemistry labs, independent projects
Learning readiness is a factor affecting teaching efficiency that the cognitive theories take seriously under consideration. Ausubel emphasized readiness as a function of previously acquired subject matter knowledge. Ausubel’s belief was that the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ausubel states “Ascertain what the learner already knows and teach him accordingly”.
To be ready for learning new material, learners of all sorts must possess a cognitive structure or schema with the following characteristics:
Age Differences and Their Influence on Readiness for Learning
1.Children learn proportionately more through representational learning than do adults, and more of their own learning is representational than conceptual or propositional.
2.Children should be taught in concrete ways. However, adults should be taught concretely when they know very little about the subject matter.
3.Representational learning must occur to provide a basis for conceptual and propositional learning.
Cultural Differences and Their Influence on Readiness for Learning
1.Ausubel believed that children who are culturally disadvantaged relative to their classmates have different cognitive structures owing to differences in their life experiences and prior learning in a different cultural/geographical setting.
2.Some learning tasks are likely to exceed the cognitive readiness of these learners.
3.To handle this situation within the classroom, Ausubel reminds us that the basic principles underlying appropriate teaching strategies are essentially the same, regardless of who the learners are. Once the teacher ascertains what the learner already knows (regardless of his/her cultural background), he/she can teach him accordingly. (Ausubel, 1978)
A Guide to Ideal Teaching in Elementary Grades
In this part of my research paper I will try organically synthesize the practical aspects of all the cognitive/learning theories I have presented into a coherent and validly applicable method of instruction of children in the elementary grades.
Of course, at this age any kind of method of instruction should take under consideration the fact that elementary school teaching is a task that involves far more than its obvious academic part; it is rather a form of multi-faceted care-giving that should enfold a network of methods that will suffice to provide all that is needed for the development/growth of the children. This development occurs simultaneously and interrelatively in many aspects of the child’s mind and body, and the whole process of this massive and intricately balanced development generates a multitude of factors that the teacher-theorist must consider in order to develop a workable and efficient method of instruction.
Bearing this in mind, I understand that the system of instruction I am going to propose is far from being perfect or even satisfactory, but it does in my opinion represent a solid basis on which real experience in the field can build something better.
This case study will be presented in the context of a fairly specific geographical and cultural setting. The age of the students involved is also specific. After I present the reader with some information about the expected developmental state and general characteristics of the students involved, I will lay out the proposed instructional method in the form of three distinct parts; the first dealing with techniques and methods to be implemented in the first few schooldays, the second describing a proposed general instruction method that will be strictly implemented in a teaching environment bearing certain characteristics which are also described, and finally the third proposing a very specific way of proceeding with the presentation of everyday lessons.
· Place: Downtown Brooklyn, NYC, United States of America. A city funded elementary school with students of diverse cultural background.
· Time: Start of a new academic year in the late ‘80s.
The age of the students involved in this case study can be from nine to twelve years. Their expected stage of cognitive development is the Concrete Operational, but some of them may already be in the process of transition to the next.
Differences in knowledge and skills among students can be great. Other important factors to be taken under consideration are:
· At this age, possible growth spurt and beginning of puberty leads to greater awareness of sex roles.
· A wide and in some cases conflicting cultural mosaic exists.
· Percentage of students with learning disabilities and various other retardations and psychological or physical problems is relatively large, mainly due to birth defects elicited by drug use in pre-natal period.
Method of Instruction
First Few Days
· Teacher gets acquainted with students. This should be done in a friendly, relaxed way which encourages conversation.
1. Point out culturally disadvantaged children.
2. Roughly determine the general characteristics and potential of the class as a whole.
· Teacher should determine the cognitive development stage of each of the students. He /she can do that by implementing specific experiment-games, proposed by Piaget or other related learning theorists/researchers.
1. Point out students below or above the expected (for the given age) stage of cognitive development.
2. Point out children with possible learning disabilities.
3. Set up special student groups for:
· Culturally disadvantaged children.
· Children in lower than the expected stage of cognitive development.
· Children with learning disabilities.
4. Arrange extra-curriculum instruction sessions of these groups and implement appropriate teaching techniques to help these children catch up with their peers. Do not forget that the same learning principles apply to children from different cultures; they just need time and patience to develop the appropriate linguistic and cultural schemas in order to be able to follow the courses of their class.
5. Start preparing advanced take-home assignments for advanced or cognitively maturer students. These children should be helped in order to enhance their skills more.
· Do what Ausubel proposes: Find out what the students already know, and start from there. A teacher can do this by :
1. Checking if last grade’s material was covered and understood by the students. This can easily be done by appropriate quizzes and tests.
2. If inadequacies are found, the teacher should dedicate the next few lessons to an accelerated coverage of important material that was not covered in the previous grade.
3. After this is done the teacher can proceed to covering the current grade’s material.
Basic Teaching Technique and Learning Environment
· Encourage children to express their views/beliefs, including their misconceptions. Conversation and debate, as any other way of active learning, should be encouraged in any case.
· Try to create an environment that triggers the equilibration process in students. This can be accomplished by:
1. Posing critical questions.
2. Asking many “whys” and giving time to students to think.
3. Periods of intense assimilation-accommodation should be followed by short periods of mental relaxation, so that newly acquired knowledge can “set in” and register to the long-term memory.
· Implement Discovery Learning techniques, by:
1. Acquiring, if possible, relevant teaching apparatus.
2. Encouraging learning games.
3. Using labs, independent projects, field trips, etc.
· Learning environment should support the physical activity of the children:
1. Athletics (soccer, running, basketball, etc.)
2. Games (i.e. Hide & Seek)
3. Rest periods should also be provided, given the fact that children of these ages are very energetic and thus get tired easily.
· Provide plenty of opportunities for interaction with peers. It is agreed, by leading authorities in the field, that peer interaction greatly promotes cognitive development.
For matters of instruction involving the purely academic part of teaching, Gagne’s nine steps of instruction, as I have presented them before, should be followed accordingly.
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· As adapted from Essentials of Learning for Instruction by R.M. Gagne and M.P. Driscoll, 1988.
 Semiotics is the general study of symbolic systems, including language. The subject is traditionally divided into three areas: syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
 In classical antiquity, Aristotle also adopted and empirical approach to the formation of an epistemological theory and argued that sensuous data processed by thought results to knowledge and also that a mass of memories of similar perceptual situations constitutes what we call “experience”. His conviction was, much like Piaget, that humans posses a natural drive to know and that knowledge is desired for its own sake(it is a reward per se.
 This is a notion characteristic of Piaget’s empirical approach to epistemology. The “tabula rasa” state of the mind of the newborn baby is a direct consequence of the empiricist conviction that “there is nothing in the mind (at least in the form of a pure idea or form) that was not prior in the senses”(“Nihil in intellectu nisi prius in sensu.”)
 A taxonomy in the form of a sequence of distinct developmental stages.
 This technique of approximating the solution of a problem that is or appears to be insolvable by any means of abstraction, is called Heuristics. Although it may seem strange it is still used by adults in situations where adequate previous experience (in whole or in parts) is not available and thus hypotheses cannot be formed and abstract simulations cannot be performed. In a way, even in adult life (when the formal operations stage has been reached), there are situations that are novel or strange enough to make a “heavy duty” scientist revert to “infantile“ approaches toward the solution of a problem.
 This is actually very close to what chickens do when they want to hide: they just put their head in a place where they cannot see anything and assume that they are invisible (Ostriches also do that by burying their head in the ground when they are scared). There are two conclusions that an informed scholar can reach at this point: First, that chickens and ostriches are in some kind of preoperational stage. Second, that the technique described above is better to be avoided in any case, provided the testimony of the high casualty rate of chickens under attack by vicious carnivores.J
 The etymology of the word comes from the Greek “(h)olon” meaning “whole”.
 Greek word meaning the whole system employed in raising and educating-forming a child.
 An approach that falls under the general notion of Functionalism.
 The father of “strong” A.I. (Artificial Intelligence).
 World model formed in mind through learning and simulations based on hypothetical data as a means of prediction.
 The analogy is to the central processing unit of a computer, which does a lot with only a few basic operations.
 “Archetypes” as a form of “a priori” knowledge or innate ideas was first introduced by the psychologist and researcher Carl Yung.
 Alienated because it does not register as personal, close-contact experience, while exploration/experimentation does exactly the opposite.
 Mainly popular because it is the least demanding in effort for the instructor.
 Temperament, psychological profile, academic performance, family condition, etc.