Concrete Operational Stage of Cognitive Development

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Concrete Operational Stage of Cognitive Development

Concrete Operational Stage of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development theory explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world (McLeod, 2015). Piaget disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait, and regarded cognitive development as a process that occurs due to biological maturation and interaction with one’s environment (McLeod, 2015). Of the four stages, Sensorimotor; Preoperational; Concrete Operational; and Formal Operational; Concrete Operational is considered to be the major turning point in a child’s development because it marks the beginning of logical and operational thought (McLeod, 2010). Within this stage, a child is now mature enough to use logical thought or operations but they can only apply logic to physical objects (McLeod, 2010).

The concrete operational stage typically happens around the ages of seven to eleven but the mental changes children undergo in this stage are more noticeable than their physical changes (Oswalt, 2010). A child’s ability to consciously, thoughtfully, and pro-actively choose to pursue goals, rather than simply reacting to the environment, appears during this stage (Oswalt, 2010). It is in this stage of ‘middle childhood’ that children begin to master multiple operations including conservation, decentration, reversibility, hierarchical classification, seriation, and spatial reasoning (Oswalt, 2010). It is typical for most children to starting doing these things without having realized what they have done or accomplished.

The first operation that children begin to master in this stage is conservation. Conservation is realizing that the quantity or amount does not change when nothing has been added to or taken away from an object, despite changes in its form or arrangement (Swift). An example being that if you break a candy bar up into smaller pieces, it is still the same amount of candy as when the candy bar was whole (Cherry, 2017). Kids at this stage of development are able to understand this concept in contrast to younger children who believe that pouring the same amount of liquid into two cups means that there is more (Cherry, 2017).