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Conservation Principle

In: Science

Submitted By cael
Words 2005
Pages 9

A Structured Observation of Conservation
Tasks with a Four-year-old Child
Cheryl Meyer
University of Victoria

PSYC 335 – S01
Dr. Ulrich Mueller
April 7th, 2005
A Structured Observation of Conservation Tasks with a Four-year-old Child The purpose of this study is to observe the cognitive inability to conserve for a child in the preoperational stage of development. According to the Swiss cognitive theorist Jean Piaget, the preoperational stage refers to the second stage of cognitive development, which spans the years 2 to 7, when children begin to form mental representations yet still lack the ability to think logically (Berk, 2005). Piaget discovered a number of tasks that highlight these limitations of preoperational thought, including his well-known conservation task, which is what I used in my observation-based study. Conservation, or “the idea that certain physical characteristics of objects remain the same, even when their outward appearance changes” (Berk, 2005, p.320), is deficient in preoperational children. This study looks at three particular conservation tasks: the conservation of numbers, substance and continuous quantity. We will observe how a child at the preoperational stage of thinking is unable to conserve in each experiment. Jean Piaget believed in the cognitive-developmental theory, in which children actively discover and manipulate the world around them in order to build their knowledge. Thus, he believed that as children’s experiences expand from birth to adolescence, their brains develop in four distinct stages. As children progress from one stage to the next, they are continually cognitively revising any discrepancies between their own ways of thinking and information they encounter in their surroundings. (Berk, 2005) That is why Piaget...

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