NEO-PIAGETIAN THEORY external image mmh55zZsw7bs5zNeewlNT_HF8fJsl0yL_-G3xbdKeN0tMvCbrPJkbqaNtqnb55bvECiwJ8mtFXqFhWcD9abYGkiHZkS8bRMThv-mlICQuwPl1Omk-Q

Neo-piagetian theorists, like Juan Pascual-Leone, Robbie Case, and Andreas Demetriou, identified the flaws in Piagetian theory and attempted to rectify them. One flaw, in particular, encouraged the neo-Piagetians to confront and adapt Piaget's theories: Piaget primarily focused on describing cognitive development, rather than explaining it. Although Piaget stated cognitive organization and adaption drove development, this explanation seemed simplistic and inadequate to the neo-piagetians.

external image LexmarkAIOScan63_2_3_2.jpgJuan Pascual-Leone, the first major neo-piagetian, suggested development was fueled by development in information processing capacity, a combination of mental capacity and mental concepts. Mental capacity is the volume and type of information that can be processed at any given time, such as working memory. Mental concepts are 1) schemas about the physical, biological and social world and symbols within the world, and 2) mental operations that can be carried out on these schemas and symbols. Pascual-Leon believed that changes in information processing capacity progressed linearly and across all domains.

Robbie Case, the second important neo-piagetian, challenged Pascual-Leon's theory of linear
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development in information processing capacity. Case recognized that not everyone develops in every area at the same time. He reasoned that information processing capacity increases through four substages in four different executive control structures; these four executive control structures corresponded to Piaget's four stages. The executive control structures enabled each individual to identify the problem situation, recognize the goals for solving the problem, and create the steps for solving the problem.

The four substages included in each executive control structure were identified as the operational consolidation, unifocal coordination, bifocal coordination, and elaborated coordination. During the operational consolidation, the child is still assimilating what he or she has learned from the previous period. The unifocal coordinaiton occurs immediately after the operational consolidation and identifies a time when the child is able to apply the newly learned skills to a variety of different domains (quantities, space, social behavior, narrative, music and motor behavior), but can only focus on problem-solving in one factor at a time. The bifocal coordination follows the unifocal coordination, and is when children are able to focus on two factors at a time. The elaborated coordination is the final stage and signals when children are able to focus on a variety of factors in a complex way at the same time.

The four executive control structures are the sensorimotor period, the relational period, the dimensional period, and the vectoral period. Case's sensorimotor period did not differ significantly from Piaget's sensorimotor period, so it will not be discussed on this page (see Stages of Development for more information concerning the sensorimotor period). Case's dimensional period replaced Piaget's preoperational period, and described this as a time when children learn to identify the connections between two observed phenomenon. Robbie Case dimensional period replaced Piaget's concrete-operational period, and denoted a time when a child learns to mentally manipulate perceptions and align them on a dimension (i.e. tallest, middle, shortest; most amount of liquid, least amount of liquid). Piaget's formal operational period was replaced by Case's vectoral period where children attempt to predict the outcome of the interaction between two or more variables.

The Orienting Stage is a precursor to the remaining four of Case's stages, although the existence of an Orienting Stage is debated.. The first three of Case's stages are shown in this table.
The Orienting Stage is a precursor to the remaining four of Case's stages, although the existence of an Orienting Stage is debated.. The first three of Case's stages are shown in this table.

Current Research

Piaget's theories have been very influential in the realm of elementary education. Ewing, J. C, Foster, D. D., and Whittington, M. S. explore the correlation between Piagetian theory and student cognition
Student Cognition

Guijarro, A. J. M. and Zamorano, J. A. A. conducted a study to identify whether authors for children's books created their characters with the same level of cognitive understanding as the target age of their audience.
Piagetian Influence on Children's Books