Shifting Conceptions of Cognitive Development
Early in this century, interest in children’s cognitive development was motivated by the need to cultivate standardized, psychometric tests of intelligence. The dominant force driving many of these early investigations of the ontogeny of children’s cognition was that of associationism (e.g., Kendler & Kendler, 1962; Suppes & Ginsberg, 1963). As enthusiasm for this metaphor of cognition waned, Piaget’s (e.g., Inhelder & Piaget, 1958) logicism grew in popularity. This new image of the child-as-logician was fueled in large part, at least in North America, by Flavell’s (1963) masterful exposition of the tenets of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. As research began to expose a variety of shortcomings in Piaget’s formalism, information-processing models (e.g., Siegler, 1981) and skills approaches (e.g., Fischer, 1980) began to appear. These newer models supplanted traditional Piagetian principles and enjoy a growing prominence in the cognitive development arena. As this century draws to a close, two major formalisms continue to dominate the cognitive development horizon: information-processing models in which the child is viewed as an abstract symbol manipulation device (e.g., Klahr, 1989; Klahr & Wallace, 1976) and Piagetian revivalism (for a review of neo-Piagetian theories, see Howe & Rabinowitz, 1990).
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