Coursework Example: Cognitive Development During Middle Childhood

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Cognitive development is a psychological conception implying the construction of information and thought processes including the art of remembering, decision making and problem-solving throughout an individuals life (Del Giudice, 2014). It is composed of stages having different characteristics that sum up into an individual intellectual make-up.

Concrete-operational period

According to Jean Piaget, it is a period between ages of 7 and 11 and during this stage, the knowledge of understanding concrete and logical information increases. Even though they struggle with understanding the hypothetical and abstract concept, they are capable of subjecting different viewpoints into subject matters (Piaget, Inhelder, & Piaget, 2013). For example, connecting ideas in a classroom set-up. It may be a flow chart, mathematical formula or concept and so on.

Formal-operational period

According to the Jean Piagets theory of cognitive development, it is the fourth and the last stage of intellectual development. It follows the concrete operational stage as it is characterized by the emergence of abstract thoughts and reasoning.

It is a stage that occurs from age 12 throughout adulthood. The ability to engage and deduce facts about hypothetical conceptions emerges and lasts. Skills such as deductive reasoning and systematic planning also emerge (Piaget, Inhelder, & Piaget, 2013). Notably, at this stage, children are not affected by fears of imagination or observations based on what they observe or hear as they understand the roots and concepts in them. For example, at this stage, a child who used to fear watching ghost films, might develop an interest as they understand that this is simply entertainment and may not happen in real life.

Gardeners theory of multiple intelligence

Gardeners theory asserts that the notion of intelligence must accomplish eight principal criteria and this includes: susceptibility to encoding, availability of core operations, the capability of brain isolation, evolutionary history, development progression, the presence of prodigies, savants, experimental and psychometric conceptions (Gardner, 2012). In fulfilling the highlighted, Gardener outlined eight abilities capable of meeting the above criteria and this included; visual-spatial, musical-rhythmic, verbal-linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalistic abilities. In addition to the above 8, he also accepted the significance of moral and existential intelligence hence the inclusion (Gardner, 2012). Even though gardener explained the abilities and expectations per modality, some critical conceptions are imperative and need not be neglected for example, instead of being more artistic, scientific evidence is to be considered. Furthermore, domains of intelligence like the meta-cognitive processes including working memory and speed critical in awareness and self-regulation are to be considered.

Sternbergs triarchic theory of intelligence

According to Sternbergs theory, he asserts that there are three major intelligence categories that individuals can possess, and this includes creative, practical and analytical intelligence. In his description, he considered practical intelligence to be that knowledge acquired by an individual based on the ability to interact and adjust to environmental conditions with a motive of achieving specific needs. Creative intelligence, on the other hand, relates to how an individual subjects perspectives to task are achieving the objective. It is more of experiential as it is largely dependent on an individual approach. Finally is the analytical intelligence dependent on how individuals process and analyze acquired information? An aspect that Sternberg disregard and is critical is the innate intelligence, that which is natural and not influenced by the environment. Incorporation of this may reduce critiques and make the intelligence conception more relevant.

Genetic/Hereditary factors that influence intelligence

Intelligence is a product of nature and nurture controversy and therefore key determinants of intelligence quotient. Hereditary factors include brain structure and functionality: - aspects of structure and functionality such as chemical activity and volume of blood, cortex thickness, metabolic rate and size of the frontal lobe are critical. They determine the ability to acquire, process and manipulate information hence fulfilling the intellectual abilities.

Environmental factors such as nutrition and socio-economic status also, influence intelligence ability (Overton, 2013). It is a fact that certain food substances boost brain function when consumed at a certain age. Also, the socio-economic status will determine individuals exposure to academic resources capable of boosting brain function.

Even though heredity plays a critical role in determining intelligence capacity, without environmental implication, it would be ineffective. I, therefore, hold that environment is an essential factor as some environmental elements boost the hereditary factors. For example, research holds that improvements in nutrition increase intelligence quotient. The prenatal nutrition is attached to brain structure, intelligence, and behavior. High nutrition reduces the loss of the brain size often experienced by children (Hanscombe et al., 2012). Other minerals including iron, zinc, folate and low protein may result in reduced brain size hence low intelligence quotient.

Characteristics of gifted, traditional and special needs children

Gifted children are known to possess a unique degree of alertness, rapid knowledge comprehension, deep and intense feelings, logical, insightful, idealistic and superior sense of justice at tender ages.

Traditional children, on the other hand, are known to possess average abilities in knowledge comprehension, a span of attention, memory, vocabulary, logical representation of ideas and sensitivity. Notably, their thinking may be enhanced through practice and consistent exposure to knowledgeable resources.

Finally is the special needs children. They are weak and requires special attention. They have a short span of attention, poor memory, incompetent communication skills and also, lack interest in learning.

Integrated Classroom Learning

Integrated classroom learning is of benefit not only to the special children but also the average and gifted. It has the following merits

Greater appreciation for individual difference among the peers

Widened access to the entire curriculum

Increased level of expectations among the learners

Widened access to a variety of teaching resources

Diversity in friendship making and socialization aspect that boosts the confidence of the children hence understanding one another.


Different attention level from the instructors

Challenges of adapting to meet the demands of the curriculum

Distractions from the special children may cause discomfort

In conclusion, development is a step by step procedure where the mental capacity of individuals adjust with time depending on the inputs originally determined by heredity and the current and consistent environmental factors. Importantly, nature and nurture are critical determinants of intelligence and should be enhanced to uphold the intelligence quotient of individuals.



Del Giudice, M. (2014). Middle childhood: An evolutionarydevelopmental synthesis. Child Development Perspectives, 8(4), 193-200.

Gardner, H. (2012). The theory of multiple intelligences. Early Professional Development for Teachers, 133.

Hanscombe, K. B., Trzaskowski, M., Haworth, C. M., Davis, O. S., Dale, P. S., & Plomin, R. (2012). Socioeconomic status (SES) and children's intelligence (IQ): In a UK-representative sample SES moderates the environmental, not genetic, effect on IQ. PLoS One, 7(2), e30320.

Piaget, J., Inhelder, B., & Piaget, J. (2013). The growth of logical thinking from childhood to adolescence: An essay on the construction of formal operational structures (Vol. 84). Routledge.

Overton, W. F. (Ed.). (2013). The relationship between social and cognitive development. Psychology Press.


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