JEROME BRUNER THEORY OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT | Enactive | Iconic | Symbolic | Skip to main content
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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLASSICAL AND OPERANT CONDITIONING Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning 1.   The learner is not independent in this type of learning. 2.   Classical conditioning is restricted to animal learning only. 3.   Stimulus oriented. 4.  Learning through stimulus substitution.             5.   Behaviour is elicited. 6.   Reinforcement comes before the act. 7.   Response is forced. 8.   Developed by Russian (Pavlov) experiment. 1.   The learner is independent in this type of learning. 2.   Operant conditioning may be useful for the purpose of human learning also. 3.   Response oriented. 4.   Learning through response modification. 5.   Behaviour is emitted. 6.   Reinforcement comes after the act. 7.   Response is voluntary. 8.   Developed by American (Skinner) experiment   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------



Modes of Representation:

Modes of representation are the ways (or format) in which the child manipulates information.

1. Enactive (First year)

This is similar to the first half of Piaget’s sensory-motor stage of development.  The child has little in the way of mental faculties so ‘thinking is a physical action.’  Knowledge is what the child can manipulate or do with movements, for example tying knots, pointing etc.  In later life the enactive mode will allow riding a bike, swimming, driving a car and so on.  These are automatic patterns of activity that have been ‘hard wired’ into our muscles.  Thinking about how we do them or trying to explain to others in words how to tie shoe laces or ride a bike is practically impossible because they are enactive. As for Piaget, the gaining of object permanence is a major qualitative change in the child’s thinking.

2. Iconic (Second year)

This is similar to the second half of Piaget’s sensory-motor and preoperational stages of development.  For the first time the child has mental images that allow it to retain pictures after the stimulus has gone.  Drawing is now possible.  These icons or images are built up from past experience and based on a number of exposures to similar objects and events.  Our image of a cup isn’t based only on seeing one cup but on seeing many.  However, at present the child lacks the ability to solve problems.

3. Symbolic (six or seven years onwards)

This is similar to Piaget’s concrete operational stage of development.  For Bruner, symbols include words (language), music, numbers and so an.  Anything we use to symbolize something else.  The precise timing of this one depends on the child, particularly its language ability.  For the first time the child can categorize, think logically and solve problems.

Educational Implication:

A major implication of Bruner’s theory is that cognitive development can be speeded up by training children in the use of symbols. 

   Physical Problems : 
They worry about their appearance like height weight, voice, colour complexion and so on.

  Accepting the Role:  
Face difficulty in accepting their role as a student in the school, child in home. They want to act as adults in some places and child in some places.

 Identity Crisis : 
Confusion in role playing as adult or child.

 The Problem of Adjustment: 
Adjustment in school, parents, elders, norms in the society, advice of others and so on.

  Teacher’s Behaviour: 
Irritated by the teachers’ behaviour and their orders.

  Sex Problem: 
They want to experiment the sex, attracted by the opposite sex, love and affection with others and so on.

  Profession and Economic Problems: 
To select their field of interest and to have economic freedom from the parents.

  Growth of Professional Interest :  
Confusion in  identifying the field of interest.

Role of the teacher in solving the Problems of Adolescents:

         Provide direct instructions to the students in social skills and problem-solving strategies.

     Use positive reinforcement to teach and maintain the use of appropriate problem-          solving and social skills.

  Use social reinforces such as teacher feedback, peer pressure, and other self-esteem enhancing activities to support and maintain the use of problem-solving and social skills.

         Apply logical consequences that will teach students personal responsibility for their actions.

         Participating in special school activities.

     Consider the use of time out, which may allow students to learn to take control of their actions and ultimately in conjunction with instruction in social skill to cease their undesirable behavior.

    Teacher should understand the needs of students and adopt a method of teaching            conforming to the nature of adolescents.

    In this mechanized age, many old conceptions and convictions have either already changed or are changing rapidly. Students often feel the burden of the past as well as a strong revulsion for many new beliefs. Hence, it is necessary to adopt the path of harmony and synthesis.

     The subjects of study should have variety and choice. These subjects should aim   at creating values for life.

     Teachers should be trained. In training them, attention should be given to the fact that they are not merely servants receiving wages for services. They really are nation builders and missionaries to future generation.

    Teachers must get adequate assistance to enable them to live, and for this, the responsibility must be borne by the community.

      New methods should be employed in the educational process.

     Full attention must be directed towards the emotions and interests of adolescents.

     The indirect method should be used in teaching.

     Industries should be modern and they should also conform to local needs and conditions.
      Notes By

Dr. A. Michael J Leo
Psychology Professor
St. Xavier's College of Education