Child Psychology Term Paper

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DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: COMPARE & CONTRAST THREE THEORIES of CHILD and ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT

The objective of this work to compare and contrast three learner developmental theories from the perspective of: (1) three key concepts of each three theories; (2) three major points of similarity among the three theories; and (3) three major points of difference among the three theories. There will further be two points identified from each theory in terms of the impact related to child and adolescent development. Finally, this work will discuss the interaction of cognitive, physical and emotional development on the overall development of the child and explain why the understanding of normal child and adolescent development is important in assisting each child to reach their potential.

INTRODUCTION

Different theorists have posited different theories of how the child and adolescent develop and while the theories are very similar they are also inclusive of differential factors relating to development. The three theories chosen for review in this work are: (1) Urie Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory; (2) Lawrence Kohlberg's Three Stages of Moral Development Theory; and (3) Jean Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Stage Theory.

I. COGNITIVE-DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE THEORY (PIAGET)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Child Psychology Assignment

Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist (1896-1990) posited the 'cognitive-developmental stage theory', which provided a description for the manner in which the thinking of a child developed during the child's interaction with the world around them. This theory held that the world is understood quite differently by infants and young children and that as children play and explore their world their mind develops thinking, which is a better fit with reality. There are four stages posited by Piaget: (1) sensorimotor; (2) preoperational; (3) concrete operational; and (4) formal operational. Each stage is characterized by specific thinking skills that are developed by the child. For example in the sensorimotor stage, (birth to age two) children learn how to learn through development of their five senses. The second stage or the 'preoperational stage' (age 2 - age 7) is a stage in which children develop mental symbolism for understanding and interacting with the world around them. During this time, children develop language skills and learn to role-play or 'pretend play'. In the 'concrete operational stage' (age 7 - age 11) children develop the capacity to think in a logical manner and to find solutions to problems while organizing learned information. During this stage the thinking of a child is still concrete in form and the capacity for abstract thinking has not yet been formed in the child. During the final stage - the 'formal operational stage' (age 11 - throughout developmental stages of adolescent) the adolescent develops thinking that is more abstract and as well develops the capacity to think in a symbolic manner.

II. ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS THEORY (BRONFENBRENNER)

The ecological theory of Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917- present) was used to explain how the child is affected by everything in the environment of the child as the child grows and develops. Bronfenbrenner labels various aspects of the environment including: (1) the microsystem; (2) the mesosystem; (3) the exosystem; and (4) the macrosystem. The microsystem describes the immediate small environment surrounding the child, which includes close relationships, and organizations the child interacts with such as family, caregivers, daycare and schools, all of which affect the child's development. The 'mesosystem' describes the interactive nature of the various parts of the microsystem of the child and how this works together for the child's sake or in some cases presents conflicts and tension that hinders the growth of the child. The 'exosystem' includes other individuals and places that largely affect the child whether the child is interactive with these or not including the parent's employer, the neighborhood, extended family and other various factors. The 'macrosystem' is used by Bronfenbrenner to describe the largest set of individuals and places that influence the child including cultural values, the economy, times of war and other influences which can impact the child positively or negatively.

III. THREE STAGES of MORAL DEVELOPMENT (KOHLBERG)

Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) proposed three stages of moral development to describe the manner in which individuals learn to discern 'right' from 'wrong' as they develop morality on more sophisticated levels. Kohlberg posits that these stagers of moral development are cumulative in nature and build upon on another. Kohlberg held that the moral development of the individual is a task that last throughout the life of the individual and that individuals often fail in developing moral understanding of a more advanced nature. The first level of moral understanding posited by Kohlberg is the 'preconventional' level in which children understand morality only in terms of consequences. The second level of moral understanding posited by Kohlberg is the 'conventional' level of morality in which the individual is driven to act morally based upon the belief that the best way to support relationships of a personal nature and the community is to follow the rules of morality. Conventional morality is a level of understanding morality in which the individual believes they should not steal, not because they might be caught and punished but as well because the individual does not want to inflict harm upon others. The third and final stage of morality development posited by Kohlberg is the 'postconventional' level of understanding morality which is the stage in which the individual determines what is right based on principles or a set of values they hold to be right.

IV. THREE KEY CONCEPTS of EACH THEORY

1. Cognitive Developmental Stage Theory

The three key points of this theory are those as follows:

The world is understood differently by infants and children who learn as they plan and explore the world around them.

There are four stages of development;

Learning takes places within each four stages and each stage builds upon the others.

2. Ecological Systems Developmental Theory

The three key points of this theory are those as follows:

A. The child is affected by everything in the environment of the child as the child grows and develops;

B. There are four aspects of the environment affecting the child's development;

C. All systems of the child's environment interact with one another and affect the child.

3. Three Stages of Moral Developmental Theory

The three key points of this theory are those as follows:

There are three stages of moral development;

Development of morality occurs in stages;

Each stage of moral development builds upon the previous stage of understanding.

V. THREE POINTS of SIMILARITY & THREE POINTS of DIFFERENCE

The three major points of similarity between the theories of Cognitive Developmental Stages Theory, the Three Stages of Moral Development Theory and the Ecological Systems Developmental Theory are that each theory posits stages development occurs in the life of the individual. The second similarity is that each of these theories holds that development occurs in a progression of levels or stages. The third similarity in each of these three theories is that each of the theories hold that development builds upon the previous knowledge held by the individual as the individual moves toward a more sophisticated and thorough understanding of self and the surrounding world. The three major points of difference existing between the Cognitive Developmental Stages Theory, the Three Stages of Moral Development Theory and the Ecological Systems Developmental Theory are the differences as follows: (1) the Cognitive Developmental Stages Theory does not hold the environment of the individual to play a major role in the psychological development of the child or adolescent while the Three Stages of Moral Developmental Theory and the Ecological Systems Developmental Theory do acknowledge the surrounding environment as important in the developmental progression of the child or adolescent. The second notable difference is that only three stagers of development are noted in the Three Stages of Moral Developmental Theory and four stages or factors are noted in the Cognitive Developmental Stages Theory and the Ecological Systems Developmental Theory. The third primary difference noted between these three theories is that the Cognitive Developmental Theory is the only one of these three theories that fails to address 'internal' and 'external' factors that motivate or fail to motivate the individual in terms of their development of morality and reasoning.

VII. TWO POINTS FROM EACH THEORY of IMPACT on DEVELOPMENT

The Cognitive Developmental Theory illustrates that impact that learning and exploration of the child's environment has upon their understanding of the world around them and that the development of thinking in the child while at first is merely concrete in nature becomes, as the child more fully develops more capable of abstract thinking and reasoning. The Ecological Systems Developmental Theory acknowledges that there are both internal and external factors affecting the development of the child and that the child and their interactions with both the internal and external environment in their life directly affect the development of the child either positively or negatively. The Three Moral Stages Developmental Theory holds that a child passes through three stages of moral development and that the child in the first stage only conforms to what is right to avoid… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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