Cognitive Development: Applications*
Citation: Huitt, W. (1997). Cognitive
development: Applications. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta,
GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from
|Teaching the Preoperational Child
(Toddler and Early Childhood)
|Use concrete props and
visual aids to illustrate lessons and help children
understand what is being presented.
- Use physical illustrations.
- Use drawings and illustrations.
relatively short, using actions as well as words, to
lessen likelihood that the students will get confused.
- After giving instructions, ask a student to
demonstrate them as a model for the rest of the
- Explain a game by acting out the part of a
|Do not expect the
students to find it easy to see the world from someone
else's perspective since they are likely to be very
egocentric at this point.
- Avoid lessons about worlds too far removed from
the child's experience.
- Discuss sharing from the child's own experience.
|Give children a great
deal of physical practice with the facts and skills that
will serve as building blocks for later development.
- Use cut-out letters to build words.
- Avoid overuse of workbooks and other
manipulation of physical objects that can change in shape
while retaining a constant mass, giving the students a
chance to move toward the understanding of conservation
and two-way logic needed in the next stage.
- Provide opportunities to play with clay, water,
- Engage students in conversations about the
changes the students are experiencing when
opportunities to experience the world in order to build a
foundation for concept learning and language.
- Take field trips.
- Use and teach words to describe what they are
seeing, doing, touching, tasting, etc.
- Discuss what they are seeing on TV.
|Teaching the Concrete Operational
|Continue to use
concrete props and visual aids, especially when dealing
with sophisticated material.
- Provide time-lines for history lessons.
- Provide three-dimensional models in science.
Continue to give
students a chance to manipulate objects and test out
- Demonstrate simple scientific experiments in
which the students can participate.
- Show craftwork to illustrate daily occupations of
people of an earlier period.
|Make sure that lectures
and readings are brief and well organized.
- Use materials that present a progression of ideas
from step to step.
- Have students read short stories or books with
short, logical chapters, moving to longer reading
assignments only when the students are ready.
|Ask students to deal
with no more than three or four variables at a time.
- Require readings with a limited number of
- Demonstrate experiments with a limited number of
|Use familiar examples
to help explain more complex ideas so students will have
a beginning point for assimilating new information.
- Compare students' own lives with those of the
characters in a story.
- Use story problems in mathematics.
|Give opportunities to
classify and group objects and ideas on increasingly
- Give students separate sentences on slips of
paper to be grouped into paragraphs.
- Use outlines, hierarchies, and analogies to show
the relationship of unknown new material to
already acquired knowledge.
|Present problems which
require logical, analytical thinking to solve.
- Provide materials such as Mind Twisters, Brain
Teasers, and riddles.
- Focus discussions on open-ended questions which
stimulate thinking (e.g., are the mind and the
brain the same thing?)
|Teaching Students Beginning to Use
|Continue to use many of
the teaching strategies and materials appropriate for
students at the concrete operational stage.
- Use visual aids such as charts and illustrations,
as well a simple but somewhat more sophisticated
graphs and diagrams.
- Use well-organized materials that offer step by
Give students an
opportunity to explore many hypothetical questions.
- Provide students opportunities to discuss social
- Provide consideration of hypothetical "other
|Encourage students to
explain how they solve problems.
- Ask students to work in pairs with one student
acting as the problem solver, thinking aloud
while tackling a problem, with the other student
acting as the listener, checking to see that all
steps are mentioned and that everything seems
- Make sure that at least some of the tests you
give ask for more than rote memory or one final
answer; essay questions, for example, might ask
students to justify two different positions on an
teach broad concepts, not just facts, using materials and
ideas relevant to the students.
- While discussing a topic such as the Civil War,
consider what other issues have divided the
country since then.
- Use lyrics from popular music to teach poetic
devices, to reflect on social problems, and so
Materials have been adapted from: Woolfolk &
McCune-Nicolich. (1984). Educational psychology for teachers.
(2nd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.