Piaget’s theory is only concerned with the development of children, His
theory has four stages:


Sensorimotor (up to age 2) The child develops the ability to form a mental
representation of the object.

Preoperational (up to age 7) During this stage, young children begin to think about things symbolically,
for example a drawing that may looks like ‘scribble’ could be identified by the
child as something quite detailed. Their view point is still very much
self-centered, children have difficulty seeing other people’s point of view.

Concrete Operational (up to age 11) This is the most significant of all Piaget’s stages of development due to a
large maturation in the child’s cognitive ability. It marks the beginning of
logical thought. Children can work things out in their head, rather than using
concrete resources to work out problems.

Operational Stage (up to 16 and beyond) This stage begins at the age of eleven and lasts into
adulthood. During this time, young people develop the ability to think about
abstract concepts, and methodically test their own ideas.


does Piaget’s theory link to practice today?

Piaget’s theory allows teachers to view students as
individual learners who add new concepts to prior knowledge, to construct, or
build, understanding for themselves.













Freud invented Psychoanalysis; a way of treating mental illnesses and a theory which
explains human behavior. His concept of psychosexual
development described how personality developed over the course of childhood.

Freud believed that personality developed through a series
of childhood stages in which the “ID” become focused on certain erogenous
areas. This psychosexual energy, or “libido”, was described as the “driving
force” behind behaviour.

Stage – Age Range: Birth to 1 Year – Erogenous Zone: Mouth
eg sucking, chewing, eating

Stage – Age Range: 1 to 3 years – Erogenous Zone: Bowel and Bladder Control
eg toilet training, growing sense of independence

Stage – Age Range: 3 to 6 Years – Erogenous Zone: Genitals
eg Oedipus Complex, noticing differences between males and

Period – Age Range: 6 to Puberty – Erogenous Zone: Sexual Feelings Inactive
eg Children develop social skills, values &
relationships with peers and adults outside of the family

Stage – Age Range: Puberty to Death – Erogenous Zone: Maturing Sexual Interests
eg the individual develops a strong sexual interest in the
opposite sex


Freud’s theory relevant today?

Freud’s theory stressed the importance of early experiences
on development. There is still debate about the importance of early versus
later experiences, however findings from research into development acknowledge
that events of early life play a critical role in developmental process.








B. F Skinner



Conditioning Theorist





B. F. Skinner
believed that the best way to understand behavior is to look at the causes of
an action and its consequences. He called this approach operant conditioning.

Skinner studied
operant conditioning by conducting experiments using animals which he placed in
a ‘Skinner Box’. Skinner identified three types of responses or operant
that can follow behavior:

Neutral operant: responses from the environment that neither increase
nor decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.

Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the
probability of a behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or

Punishers: Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood
of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.


does Skinner’s theory link to practice today?

Operant conditioning can be used to explain a wide variety
of behaviours, from the process of learning, to language acquisition, however,
critics believe “Operant conditioning
fails to consider the role of inherited and cognitive factors in learning, and
therefore is an incomplete explanation of the learning process in humans and









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