Anita Woolfolk

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  • Anita E Woolfolk-Hoy

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  • C LU S T E R 2Cognitive Development and Language

    Teachers Casebook: WhatWould You Do? 19Module 2: Development: SomeGeneral Principles 20

    The Brain and CognitiveDevelopment 21

    The Development of Language 24

    Diversity in Language: DualLanguage Development 26

    Language Development in the School Years 26

    Module 3: Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development 31

    Influences on Development 31Basic Tendencies

    in Thinking 32Four Stages of Cognitive

    Development 33Module 4: VygotskysSociocultural Perspective 43

    The Social Sources of Individual Thinking 44

    Cultural Tools and CognitiveDevelopment 45

    The Role of Language andPrivate Speech 45

    The Role of Learning andDevelopment 48

    The Role of Adults and Peers 48

    Module 5: Implications of Piagetand Vygotsky for Teachers 51

    Understanding and Building on Students Thinking 51

    Activity and ConstructingKnowledge 52

    The Value of Play 52Some Limitations of Piagets

    Theory 53Assisted Learning 55The Zone of Proximal

    Development 55Teachers Casebook: WhatWould They Do? 59

  • What is going on with Trevor? In the following fourmodules, you will find out. We begin with a dis-cussion of the general principles of human development

    and take a brief look at the human brain. We also explore

    language development and discuss the role of the school

    in developing and enriching language skills (Module 2).

    Then we will examine the ideas of two of the most influ-

    ential cognitive developmental theorists, Jean Piaget

    (Module 3) and Lev Vygotsky (Module 4). Piagets ideas

    have implications about what students can learn and

    when they are ready to learn it. The work of Lev Vygot-

    sky, a Russian psychologist, is becoming more and more

    influential. His theory highlights the important role

    teachers and parents play in the cognitive development

    of the child. Finally, we will look at the implications of

    these theories for classroom teachers (Module 5).

    Teachers Casebook

    What Would You Do?

    The district curriculum guide calls for a unit on poetry,including lessons on symbolism in poems. You are con-cerned that many of your 5th-grade students may notbe ready to understand this abstract concept. To testthe waters, you ask a few students what a symbol is.

    Its sorta like a big metal thing that you bangtogether. Tracy waves her hands like a drum major.

    Yeah, Sean adds, My sister plays one in thehigh school band.

    You realize they are on the wrong track here, soyou try again. I was thinking of a different kind ofsymbol, like a ring as a symbol of marriage or a heartas a symbol of love, or . . . .

    You are met with blank stares.Trevor ventures, You mean like the Olympic torch?And what does that symbolize, Trevor? you ask.Like I said, a torch. Trevor wonders how you

    could be so dense.

    Critical ThinkingWhat do these students reactions tell you aboutchildrens thinking? How would you approach thisunit? What more would you do to listen to yourstudents thinking so you could match your teach-ing to their level of thinking? How would you giveyour students concrete experience with symbolism?How will you decide if the students are not develop-mentally ready for this material?

    CollaborationWith 3 or 4 other students in your educational psy-chology class, plan a lesson about symbolism inpoetry that would be appropriate for students inthis class. Pair up with another group and teachyour lesson.

    Harmony, 1894 by Henri Martin. 2003 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Copyright Giraudon/Art Resource, NY.

  • Development Orderly, adaptivechanges we go through from conceptionto death.

    Physical development Changes inbody structure and function over time.

    Personal development Changes inpersonality that take place as one grows.

    Social development Changes overtime in the ways we relate to others.

    Cognitive development Gradual or-derly changes by which mental processesbecome more complex and sophisticated.

    Maturation Genetically programmed,naturally occurring changes over time.

    CLUSTER 2: Cognitive Development and Language20

    The term development in its most general psychological sense refers to certainchanges that occur in human beings (or animals) between conception and death. Theterm is not applied to all changes, but rather to those that appear in orderly ways andremain for a reasonably long period of time. A temporary change caused by a briefillness, for example, is not considered a part of development. Psychologists also make a value judgment in determining which changes qualify as development. Thechangesat least those that occur early in lifeare generally assumed to be for thebetter and to result in behavior that is more adaptive, more organized, more effective,and more complex (Mussen, Conger, & Kagan, 1984).

    Human development can be divided into a number of different aspects. Physi-cal development, as you might guess, deals with changes in the body. Personaldevelopment is the term generally used for changes in an individuals personality.Social development refers to changes in the way an individual relates to others. Andcognitive development refers to changes in thinking.

    Many changes during development are simply matters of growth and matura-tion. Maturation refers to changes that occur naturally and spontaneously and thatare, to a large extent, genetically programmed. Such changes emerge over time and arerelatively unaffected by environment, except in cases of malnutrition or severe ill-ness. Much of a persons physical development falls into this category. Other changesare brought about through learning, as individuals interact with their environment.Such changes make up a large part of a persons social development. But what aboutthe development of thinking and personality? Most psychologists agree that in theseareas, both maturation and interaction with the environment (or nature and nurture,as they are sometimes called) are important, but they disagree about the amount ofemphasis to place on each.

    Although there is disagreement about both what is involved in development andthe way it takes place, there are a few general principles almost all theorists wouldsupport.

    1. People develop at different rates. In your own classroom, you will have a wholerange of examples of different developmental rates. Some students will be larger,better coordinated, or more mature in their thinking and social relationships.Others will be much slower to mature in these areas. Except in rare cases of veryrapid or very slow development, such differences are normal and should be ex-pected in any large group of students.

    2. Development is relatively orderly. People develop abilities in a logical order. In in-fancy, they sit before they walk, babble before they talk, and see the world throughtheir own eyes before they can begin to imagine how others see it. In school, theywill master addition before algebra, Bambi before Shakespeare, and so on.Theorists may disagree on exactly what comes before what, but they all seem tofind a relatively logical progression.

    By the time you have completedthis module, you should be ableto answer these questions:

    What are some generalprinciples of humandevelopment?

    Is brain-based educationeffective?

    How does language developduring the school years, andwhat happens if children arelearning two languages atonce?

    Development:Some General Principles

    M O D U L E 2

  • MODULE 2: Development: Some General Principles21

    3. Development takes place gradually. Very rarely do changes appear overnight. Astudent who cannot manipulate a pencil or answer a hypothetical question maywell develop this ability, but the change is likely to take time.

    The Brain and Cognitive DevelopmentYou are interviewing for a job in a great districtit is known

    for innovation. After a few minutes, the principal asks, Do you know anything about this brain-based education? Ive read a lot about that lately. How would you answer?

    If you have taken an introductory psychology class, you have read about the brain andnervous system. You probably remember, for example, that there are several differentareas of the brain and that certain areas are involved in particular functions. Forexample, the feathery looking cerebellum coordinates and orchestrates balance and smooth, skilled movementsfrom the graceful gestures of the dancer to theeveryday action of eating without stabbing yourself in the nose with a fork. The cere-bellum may also play a role in higher cognitive functions such as learning. The hippo-campus is critical in recalling new information and recent experiences, while theamygdala directs emotions. The thalamus is involved in our ability to learn new in-formation, particularly if it is verbal. The reticular formation plays a role in attentionand arousal, blocking some messages and sending others on to higher brain centersfor processing, and the corpus callosum moves information from one side of thebrain to the other (Wood & Wood, 1999; Meece 2002).

    The outer 1/8-inch-thick covering of the cerebrum is the wrinkled-lookingcerebral cortexthe largest area of the brain. The cerebral cortex ac