Piaget was responsible for the identification of the different stages of cognitive development. The approximate age of each of the stages might vary in different kinds of cultures along with different kinds of incidents. This is a variation of cognitive development, though the sequence of the stages do not vary for every child. The sequence more or less remains the same. The different kinds of stages along with their respective ages can be defined below.
1) Sensory motor stage which is mainly seen from the birth up to two years of age of the child.
2) Pre-conceptual stage is mainly found in the age which ranges from two to four years of age.
3) Pre-operational stage which is found in the age that ranges from four years up to eleven years.
4) The final stage is the formal operational stage that has the formal age range of eleven to sixteen years.
The formal operational stage generally begins at the age of eleven and it has its span till adulthood. At this stage the children has the development where he is able to think about different kinds of concepts which are completely out of the track. These concepts are abstract concepts. The children develop different other kinds of skills. These skills include thinking with the help of logical reasons, ability to reason with the help of deduction skills. The other skills which get importance at this stage are ability to prepare systematic plans. This stage is properly distinguished by the emerging though process of abstract topics along with the ability to reason based on hypothetical situations.
Piaget analysed this formal operational stage with the help of an experiment. In this experiment Piaget asked the children a very important question. The question that was asked to them was about the placement of their third eye if they are supposed to possess a third eye. The children who were very young gave the answer that they would like to place their third eye at the middle of their forehead. The children who are comparatively older than them came up with variation and creativity in their ideas. The older children even stated the various ways by which the eye could be made useful. They commented that the eye could be placed at the middle of the hand which would be used to look at the corners. If the eye is placed at the back of the head of the person, then it would be easier for the person to look into the picture in the background. These ideas represented that these children at a comparatively mature age are able to think differently. Their thoughts are abstract, distinctive as well as creative.
It was believed by Piaget that the process of deductive reasoning has been very useful as well as necessary at the formal operational stage. This is because reasoning with deduction is the capability that is possessed by a child for using the general principle for determining the outcome for a particular course of action. This type of thoughts and principles that govern the hypothetical situations as well as concepts are broadly used in different fields of subjects such as science and mathematics. It was also believed by Piaget that children of younger age generally are used to solving problems through trial and error method. At the stage of being formal and operational, there is a new emerging concept which requires the child to think in a different way, be creative and solve problems in a logical way applying proper methods.
At the stage of formal operation in the process of cognitive development, it has been found by Jean Piaget that at this point of development, the thinking of the child becomes much more sophisticated as well as advanced. The mature kids become accustomed with problem solving through logical ability. The kids take up abstract ideas and different kinds of theoretical concepts. There are few other ways by which Piaget conducted testing of this formal operational stage in order to analyse the thinking ability of the children belonging to this stage. Piaget provided the children of all ages with a scale for the purpose of balancing by hooking weights at each end of the scale. In order to balance the scale, the children were supposed to understand the concept of physics that both the heaviness of the weights placed as well as the distance from the centre played a vital role in this task.
The results are noted down as observed. The younger children around the ages of 3 and 5 could not complete the task due to their lack of understanding of the concept of balance. The children who belonged to seven years of age tried placing the weights at each end of the scale in order to adjust the scale. They had the lack of understanding about the importance of weights at each end. The children belonging to the age of 10 took into account both the location as well as the weight but they had the urge to arrive at the accurate answer using the trail-and-error method.
At the age of 13, it was found that the children were able to use hypothetical reasoning about carrying out the experimental task. They had the idea of using hypothesis for placing the weights at the exact position as required in order to balance the scale and complete the task.
From the experiments conducted by Piaget, he believed that the children at the stage of formal operation have the desire to think very concretely and specifically in relation to the topic given to them. The children do not rely on the previous experiences and always try to consider possible outcomes and the result of the actions that are taken by them. This has been considered as a very important way that leads to long-term planning. Piaget believed in the concept of hypothetical-deductive reasoning for exclusively defining the formal operational stage. He concluded that the children of this stage would ponder “what-if” type of situations and questions for carrying out the process of problem solving and also think about more than one possible outcomes for a particular problem.
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