Preoperational and Concrete Operational Thinking

Jean Piaget, a Swiss child psychologist noted for his studies of intellectual and cognitive development1 offered that as a child progresses in age, so does his cognitive ability in regards to perceiving the construct of the world around him. Piaget has offered four distinct levels of development including the Sensorimotor stage (age 0-2), Preoperational Stage (2-7), Concrete Operational (7-11), and Formal Operational (11+). The sensorimotor stage, indicative of infant and toddler perceptions, consists of the child learning to understand his environment by linking sensory information (sight, smell, etc.) to motor skills. Though not applicable to these projects study subjects, sensorimotor development is relevant to highlight the current developmental stages of the subjects.Preoperational development is the stage in which a child begins to represent the world with words, images, and drawings2. This level of cognitive growth is relevant to Subject 1 and represents a period in which a child moves towards higher cognitiveThe Concrete operational stage, relevant to Subject 2, and is characterised by an ability to perform a higher level of mental functions, including logical reasoning. This is a maturing ability to understand the reasoning as related to operations involving concrete objects. The nature and procedures of the experiment will illustrate concrete operational skills in comparison to Subject 1 and 2.At age 11, a child begins to exhibit the skills involved in formal operations and will develop more intensely as the child approaches adulthood. This stage, though removed from both subjects current development, will theoretically become the foundation for higher reasoning. Formal operations are the development of solidified, logical approaches to problem-solving and the ability to analyse abstract concepts. As this work will later suggest, Subject 2 may be exerting early signs of the transition from concrete operations to formal operations based on responses to the experimentation.

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