Jean Piaget

                         1896 - 1980

                           Theories of Learning


Personal Biography                                                 

Principal Appointments






Personal Biography:

Jean Piaget was born August 7th 1896 in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Jean Piaget was the eldest child of Arthur Piaget and Rebecca Jackson. Piaget steeped into the world of science at the age of 11years when he first wrote about an albino sparrow. Piaget later studied in Natural Sciences at the University of Neuchatel obtaining his PhD at 22 years old. through his studies Piaget developed an interest in psychoanalysis. This interest was expanded with his later work into the Binet Testing. By 1921 Piaget was appointed Research Director at the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Geneva. this position was the first of many appointments afforded to Piaget. In 1923 Piaget married and began his family. It was his own children that first sparked an intense in the intellectual development of children. From this interest Piaget formed his theory of the four stages of development. Piaget died in Geneva, Switzerland on September 16th 1980. Up until his death Piaget was still publishing material. (Jean Piaget Society)


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Principal Appointments

Jean Piaget although trained in the natural sciences held interest into a variety of developmental science including developmental psychology, genetic epistemology, education and philosophy. Piaget was a Developmental Psychologist with a strong interest into child development.

Piaget obtained a long list of key appointments during his life to explain them all here would make many of us green with envy. If you wish to view a list principal appointments please refer to links below.

To begin in 1921 with the Research Director position Piaget held a variety of positions. He was a Professor of Psychology, Sociology, Genetic Psychology, History of Scientific Thought and Philosophy. These position were held at different Universities, mainly based in Geneva. Piaget was also the Director of the International Bureau of Education and Institute of Educational Sciences. Piaget also held the presidencies at the Swiss Commission UNESCO, the Swiss Society of Psychology, French Language Association of Scientific Psychology and the International Union of Scientific Psychology. To top of this impressive list, which is only a shortened version, Piaget was given Honorary Doctorates from Harvard, Manchester, Cambridge, Bristol plus scores of other Universities. (Jean Piaget Society)  


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Piaget Stage Theory

Stage Age Degree of Understanding
Sensorimotor  under 2yrs Aware of what can be visually or tactilely sensed.
Pre - Operational  2 - 7 yrs Improvement and move towards operational thinking. Understanding of non-visual stimuli.
Operational  7 - 11yrs Beginning understanding of the 'rules' of thinking.
Formal Operations  11yrs & beyond Ability to think and act hypothetically.

Above is a brief outline of the stage theory put forward by Piaget. Piaget Stage theory comes from his belief that throughout childhood, children develop in stages relative to their age. 

Piaget's theory on human learning works on the use of assimilation and accommodation to make adaptation possible. Throughout the stages and beyond we all are required to adapt to a changing environment. Piaget argues that this adaptation comes about with an equal amount of assimilation and accommodation (Lefrancos 2000).In this frame, assimilation refers to the response from prior learning and accommodation is the ability to change behaviors relative to the environment. Assimilation and adaptation both are required in equal forces to shape any development this was termed equilibration. Equilibration is the balance needed between assimilation and adaptation to promote learning. With maturation, experience, social interaction and equilibration, Piaget claims these are the forces that shape our learning (Lefrancos 2000).

Piaget's theories have held great influences in both the Psychological and Educational sciences. Through Piaget's age related stage theory, educationist were able to change the teaching environment to adapt to the best ways to enhance the innate abilities relative to the child's age. Although Piaget's theories are still current today many fellow theorist have put them to to the test and disputed many angles of Piaget's theory. One such focus is that of the sensorimotor stage which has been argued grossly underestimated the ages at which certain behaviors can present themselves (Lefrancos 2000).


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For more information on Piaget's and his theories and life please enter the below links.

Personal Biography and Principle Appointments:



Learning theories:







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    Lefrancos. Guy, F(2000);Theories of Human Learning, What the old man said. Fourth Edition. Wadsworth/Thomson              Learning.

   Jean Piaget Society (2000); A Short Biography of Jean Piaget.


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