Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Second Trip to the Library

Last night I had a significant amount of homework, and I was not able to finish it all the night before. I got up at five to finish going over the assigned articles about infants development and reasoning. I managed to finish in time for breakfast, where I ate with my friend from St. Louis, Elizabeth. After breakfast was over, I went to class and like yesterday, arrived several minutes early.

The four stages
As soon as everyone was in class, we got to work right away, explaining and making concrete what we learned from the textbook the night before. The chapter we read was about the different theories about children's development. There were three different types of theories, but at many points they did tend to overlap. The first theory was mainly constructed by Piaget. He really paved the way for developmental psychologists after him, because he made so much progress in his field. Piaget believed that children learned from themselves by experimenting. Many people called how he described children's learning as "little scientists". He claimed that children tried things to see what would happen, and from these experiences they would learn about the world. For example, babies often knock things over from a shelf or table repeatedly. This can seem frustrating and pointless to an exhausted parent, but Piaget and many others believe that what this baby is doing is observing what happens when an object drops to the floor. How hard does it hit the ground? Does it break when it hits the ground? What sound does it make when it hits the ground? These questions are all being answered for the baby when he tries dropping the object and seeing it fall for himself. Piaget also believed that there were certain developmental stages that children went through at certain ages. For example, infants to two year old children are in the sensorimotor stage. This means that they learn from taking information in through their senses and through physical learning. Once they are a bit older, from two to seven years, the children are in a preoperational stage. Here they can speak most likely, but they speak for themselves mostly, and cannot understand the perspectives of others. From ages seven to twelve is the concrete operational stage. They can understand concrete ideas and most likely do simple math skills like add and subtract. From twelve on up through adolescence is the formal operational stage. Logic is used, but abstract concepts and hypothetical ideas can also be understood and worked with.

Vygotsky, a Russian developmental psychologist took a more sociocultural approach. He believed that children learned based off of what was around them, who was around them, and what was being taught to them. This theory suggests that everything a baby knows is based off of what it observes. This could be cultural practices, or just everyday activities done by the baby's parents.

The last theory focuses on the way babies process information. This deals with what information is going into the child's long term memory through a process of encoding and retrieving , and what is just in their working memory.

Cassie does a lot of power point presentations in this course, which I find very helpful because sometimes talking about psychology just verbally is not enough to really grasp such a concept. She also shows many videos, which is useful since we cannot always have young children doing experiments in the classroom for us. Eventually we will be able to work with children, but we have more planning to do before we get to that.

We got an unusually long lunch break, two hours, because we were to meet at the library to get tour and an explanation of how to access scientific journals and such. The whole tour and explanation took about one hour. By the time we got out, about half of the class was ready to fall asleep.

My classmate, Catherine, and I decided to go to the gym after class because we had spent all week bent over books. The gym was a nice change of scene and it felt good to get a work out in. While walking back to our dorms from the gym, Catherine and I were talking and we discovered that we were actually in the same summer class at Brown University last summer, So You Want to be a Doctor, but we just didn't know it because the class size was too big. Finding this out was such a coincidence and I could not believe it.

After dinner with my psychology class mates, I went back to the dorms to work on tomorrows homework, which luckily was a little less than the night before's. I also got some e-mails from Alie discussing our final plans for our dinner with U Chicago alumni tomorrow. I am excited to meet these alum tomorrow and I am sure we will have plenty to discuss about the university. 

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