Cumulative Learning Model of Cognitive Development

New skills and abilities are developed due to the progressive nature of cognitive development. This is accomplished by integrating and expanding on current information. This improves learning even more through aggregated processes.

What is the Cumulative Learning Model of Cognitive Development?

The cumulative learning model of cognitive development suggests that children learn by assimilating and accommodating material to their existing knowledge base in a step−by−step manner. According to this paradigm, children are always learning, and their experiences and surroundings impact their perspective of the world.

According to the cumulative learning paradigm, in order to obtain a more nuanced understanding of their surroundings, children must go through a number of phases. To advance to the next level, students must master particular skills and learn new information at each step. This learning is assumed to be aggregated, which means that each increasingly higher level of comprehension builds on and is dependent on the previous one.

Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development is a well−known aggregated learning paradigm. Piaget believed that as children acquire their cognitive capacities, they pass through a number of phases. Each level symbolises a qualitatively different style of thinking, and each new stage builds on the preceding ones' accomplishments.

Lev Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of cognitive development is another model of aggregated learning. Vygotsky suggested that social interactions and cultural influences had a substantial influence on cognitive growth. He highlighted the significance of language and social contact in the growth of higher brain functions.

Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

The cognitive development model of Jean Piaget gives a framework for understanding how children's thinking and reasoning abilities develop as they grow. According to Piaget, children go through a succession of discrete stages, each with its own set of cognitive strengths and limits. He also stated that via interactions with their environment, children actively develop their view of the world.

They incorporate new knowledge into their existing mental structures (schemas) and adjust these structures to meet new experiences. Children progress from simpler, more limited methods of thinking to more complex and abstract ways of thinking as they grow and develop. Let's take a closer look at each stage of Piaget's model:

Sensorimotor Stage (Birth to 2 Years)

This stage begins at birth and lasts approximately 2 years. Infants investigate and comprehend the environment largely through their senses (such as seeing, hearing, touching, and tasting) and motor movements (such as grasping and manipulating objects) throughout this era. This stage's key elements include:

  • Object Persistence Development : Infants gradually learn that objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight. They lack this comprehension at first, but by 8 to 12 months, they have developed the concept of object permanence.

  • Sensorimotor Coordination : It is the ability of infants to coordinate their sensory experiences with their motor actions. They learn to reach for and grip objects, for example.

Infants begin to engage in symbolic play near the end of this stage, where they utilise one object to symbolise another. This indicates the rise of symbolic reasoning.

The Preoperational Period (2 to 7 years)

This stage is distinguished by the growth of symbolic thinking and language skills. At this stage, children can mentally represent objects and events with symbols such as words, images, and pretend play. This stage's key elements include:

  • Egocentrism − At this age, children frequently struggle to realise that others have different viewpoints and may interpret things differently than they do. They are prone to focusing on their own point of view.

  • Centration − Children's thinking is centred on one prominent component of a situation, ignoring other pertinent aspects. This constraint makes it difficult for them to conserve amount, number, or volume.

  • Animism − Children imbue inanimate objects with real features and motivations.

  • Theory of Mind − By the end of this stage, infants have developed a rudimentary grasp that others' thoughts, opinions, and desires may differ from their own.

Concrete Operational Stage (7 to 11 years)

Children in this stage grow more logical and can perform mental operations on concrete objects and events. They begin to comprehend conservation (the fact that the quantity of a substance remains constant despite changes in appearance), reversibility, and basic reasoning principles. This stage's key elements include:

  • Conservation − Children can grasp that changing the appearance of an object or substance (for example, pouring liquid from a tall glass into a short glass) does not change its quantity.

  • Reversibility − They have the ability to cognitively reverse actions and realise that a transformation can be reversed.

  • Operational Thinking − Children develop the ability to think logically about concrete occurrences and solve issues through mental operations.

Formal Operational Stage (11 years and up)

The formal operational stage is the final step of Piaget's paradigm and lasts throughout adulthood. Individuals develop the ability to think abstractly, engage in hypothetical reasoning, and solve issues using deductive logic throughout this period. This stage's key elements include:

  • Abstract Thinking − Individuals can think about concepts, ideas, and possibilities that are not concrete, tangible objects. They can reason about abstract ideas and think scientifically, philosophically, and hypothetically.

  • Logical Reasoning − Individuals can use deductive reasoning to draw logical conclusions from a collection of premises.

  • Metacognition − The development of metacognitive capacities such as self-reflection, planning, and monitoring one's thought processes characterises this stage.

Lev Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development

According to Vygotsky, children's cognitive development is deeply intertwined with their social environment, including interactions with parents, teachers, and peers.

  • Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) − The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is an essential notion in Vygotsky's model. The gap between a child's current level of autonomous functioning and their prospective degree of growth with the support and guidance of a more knowledgeable individual is referred to as the ZPD.

  • Scaffolding − Vygotsky claimed that learning and cognitive growth take place through a process known as scaffolding. Scaffolding is the process of offering temporary support, guidance, and structure to a kid in order to help them gain new information and abilities within their ZPD.

  • Social Interaction − Vygotsky emphasised the critical function of social contact in cognitive growth. Learning and cognition, he maintained, are ultimately social processes. Children internalise culturally relevant knowledge, skills, and strategies through interactions with more skilled individuals.

  • Cultural Tools − Vygotsky emphasised the role of cultural instruments in cognitive growth. Language, symbols, artefacts, and other culturally distinctive modes of communication and thought are examples of cultural instruments. A culture creates and shapes these tools, which are employed to mediate thought and problem-solving.

  • Private Speech and Internalization − Vygotsky found that young infants frequently engage in private conversation, talking to themselves while performing activities. He claimed that private speech begins as a technique of self-direction and problem-solving and gradually transforms into internalised concepts.


The aggregated learning model of cognitive development suggests that children learn through assimilating and accommodating material to their existing knowledge base in a step−by−step manner. Through processes such as Piaget's stages, Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding, and the use of cultural tools, children are able to gain a deeper understanding of their environment and develop their cognitive abilities.

Updated on: 07-Nov-2023


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