Post-Piagetian Perspectives of Cognitive Development
- Eduardo MartíEduardo MartíUniversity of Barcelona
Piaget’s constructivism theory influenced deeply the study of cognitive development in the last century. Despite the progressive loss of influence of this theory, some contemporary perspectives have recently extended some of his ideas, enriching the way cognitive development is understood. These contributions face two important questions that remained problematic in Piaget’s theory: how to integrate dynamic aspects and variability of development and how to understand the role of the body and the signs in cognition.
Thanks to information processing theory, functional and executive components of cognition have been progressively integrated into Piaget’s theory. Two main perspectives have contributed to doing so. The first one, defended by Pascual-Leone and Case, among other authors, has been called “neo-Piagetian theory.” It offers a more dynamic way to understand cognitive development and present particular solutions to explain the Piagetian stages. The second one, the theory of dynamic systems, has contributed to explaining variability in cognitive development, a central aspect underestimated by Piaget, who was more interested in universal aspects of cognition.
Thanks to the perspective of embodied cognition, the main role of action and body has been taken into account to understand the characteristics of cognition. From this perspective, a nuclear idea of Piaget’s constructivism, the importance of action in cognition, has been investigated in a more accurate way. Finally, considering the poor contribution of signs in Piaget’s theory, some authors inspired in Vygotskyan theory have emphasized the role of semiotic systems and social aspects in cognitive development. The research generated by all these theoretical perspectives has had important consequences in education.