Episode 84: How To Make Learning Fun Again Part 1 – Piaget

Jean Piaget
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Can we make learning as fun as it was when you were a child? We can. Listen to Dr. Eugene Geist as he explains the cognitive development theories of Jean Piaget and you'll understand why we are all geared to learn. We actively seek out learning experiences. How can we keep that excitement alive? Find out in this episode and in the episodes to follow as we examine ideas such as constructivism, problem-based Learning, inquiry-based learning and democratic schools. This episode will also be helpful if you need to learn the different stages of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done. — Jean Piaget (1896-1980) Swiss cognitive psychologist.

Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development


  • Approximate ages: 0-2
  • An understanding of object permanence is achieved at the conclusion of this stage
  • When a child’s expectations of what is supposed to happen are not met, confusion disequalibrium results.
  • Confusion disequalibrtum can be resolved through assimilation in which you try to fit the new information into with what you already know
  • Confusion disequalibrium can also be resolved through accommodation in which you create a new “folder””, a new category in your brain’s understanding of the world.
  • Learning is an active process. Our understanding of the world becomes more complex – a :building process: (thus the term constructivism).


  • Approximate ages: 2-6
  • Pre-logical thinking – children think intuitively
  • Children can use symbols
  • Ego-centrism lessons at the end of this phase
  • Still believe in Santa Claus
  • conservation tasks are difficult to solve

Concrete Operations

  • Approximate ages: 7-12
  • Children like to have more logical explanations at this age
  • Manipulatives are helpful in the learning process
  • Can think logically and a little bit abstractly, but not well with hypothetical situations

Formal Operations

  • Approximate ages: 7-12
  • Characterized by a more free flowing logic
  • Can deal with hypothetical situations

Key point of Piaget: children are not empty vessels as the behaviorists might say. Instead, they interact with their world because they want to learn.

And, because I couldn’t help it:

Psychology Research Methods: Check Out “The Mappr”!

Taking a psychology class? Confused about Research Methods? Let me know what you think of a new tool I built which I call the "MAPPR". That stands for "Make A Personal Psych Review" (best name I could come up with). Here’s what it does: I’ve selected a typical topic from an Intro Psych course: the scientific method (might be referred to as Research Methods in your textbook) and I chose what I think are the bold terms that most students of psychology would have to learn from the chapter on this topic. I put these terms into a concept map and then recorded my own explanations for what these terms mean. Then (not done yet) I put the concept map and the audio files into a small online application which allows you to choose only those terms you find difficult or which you want to review. So: on the map you click the terms you want to review and then click the "Play" button and hear my explanation of those terms. It’s probably best to check it out yourself.

Let me know what you think!

Click here to go to the MAPPR

In case you want to download the map itself, click on the image below and then print out or download the jpg image on the next screen.

Research Methods Map

Video Walkthrough: Setting up a Blog, uploading audio, and using RSS

If you’re interested in how to set up a blog, how to post audio files to the web, and how to use RSS and iTunes to let students know about new audio, I created a video walkthrough which shows how all this is done. Maybe you’ll find this helpful.

Some of this information on how and why to create educational blogs and podcasts can be found in this article I wrote for the PsychTeacher discussion list. A PowerPoint presentation of some of these ideas can also be found on that page.

Episode 22: The Brains Behind Erikson Part 1 – Timeliner

I decided that it was time to look at the biology behind the changes that occur in our lives as we grow. As I put my ideas together to do this, I employed a very neat program called Timeliner. It is so cool in fact that I decided to do an episode solely on how to use Timeliner, especially the tool called “merge”. If you are an educator I think you’ll find this episode interesting. It shows how to use Timeliner to compare timelines that focus on different aspects of life – in this case I merge Erikson’s stages with significant events in my life and then with some of the significant the physical changes that occur in everyone’s life as we age. In part 2 I’ll talk more about these changes, but in this episode I just wanted to share how great a program Timeliner is. This is an uncompensated endorsement of this great program. I wanted to share how this program could be an example of what Jonnassen calls a “mindtool”. Hope you find this interesting.

Resources for this podcast

  • Go to the Tom Snyder Productions website where you can purchase Timeliner and explore development across the lifespan.

Related Episodes

Other information on Erikson can be found in these podcasts: