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Cognitive Development

Outline of the Course:


The course is aimed at providing an overview of the area of human cognitive development. No prior background will be assumed for the course.

The topics covered will be:
1. Introduction: Themes, issues, methods
2. Piagetian studies: overview
3. Infant cognition and development

    a. Piagetian characterization of sensori-motor stage and substages
    b. Development of adaptive intelligence, object permanence, semiotic function
    c. Post-Piagetian developments in infant cognition: object perception and physical reasoning

4. Cognitive development during early childhood: overview
5. Cognitive development during middle childhood

    a. Overview
    b. Piagetian description of operational thought: conservation tasks and the structures of operational thought

6. The development of perception and memory
7. Domain-specific cognitive development

    a. Language
    b. Categorization
    c. Numerical cognition
    d. Naive biology
    e. Social cognition

8. Formal reasoning and problem-solving: Piagetian and information-processing accounts
9. Mechanisms of Cognitive Development

    a. Traditional theories of Learning
    b. Surprise, uncertainty, equilibriation
    c. Re-representation
    d. Theory change

The course will be based on the book 'Cognitive Development' by J.H. Flavell and additional articles/ chapters from other books which will be specified against each topic.
Evaluation will be based on (weightage in brackets):

1. Classroom discussion: 10
2. Presentation of a single article + write-up ( 10 + 10): This will involve a close reading of an important article and critical analysis of the article. Students will make a brief oral presentation. The presentation must be written up in the form of an essay and submitted (draft first, final after incorporating feedback).
3. Experiment presentation + write-up (15 + 15): Students will replicate an important experiment (small sample size) and report findings in the form of a seminar. A written report of the experiment must also be submitted.
4. End of the term open book exam: 40.

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