Discovering and Uncovering Piaget

Teacher Page


This picture shows how NOT to teach, based on Piaget's theory because it appears to be very teacher-centered with a "show and tell" approach which tends to minimize students'  active  engagement in learning!

As previously mentioned, one reason I developed this WebQuest is because students often dislike learning about psychological theories through traditional teaching methods. I thought that inquiry learning and use of the Internet might make it more interesting, and it places students at the center of their own learning, encouraging inquiry, discovery, and application so a WebQuest is consistent with a Piagetian approach to teaching and seems to be ideal!

Another reason I developed this WebQuest is that I wanted my teacher education students to be able to use existing WebQuests and to create their own WebQuests, so I  gave them an experience engaging in a WebQuest as learners,  and I had to develop one myself! 

While your students are engaged in this WebQuest, it's important for you to monitor how the groups are functioning to make sure that all students are contributing and working together in a timely and collegial fashion. To facilitate these characteristics of the project, I allow some time in class for students to work on it so that not everything has to be done outside of class.

One thing to watch out for is students using the wrong resources for their Resources Report. Some students confuse websites with documents for this project and mistakenly believe that any document they find on a website from the Process page qualifies as an acceptable document for this part of the project rather than only using the documents attached at the bottom of the Process Page. Any documents they find on websites on the Process page qualify for the website component of the Resources Report.

It's also important that you carefully monitor students' understanding of Piaget's ideas in general and stages in particular because there are some common misconceptions: 

1. that he equated age with stage

2. that he was a maturationist 

3. that he didn't appreciate the role of environment in cognitive development 

4. that he thought education couldn't help students develop cognitively 

Finally, it's  important to carefully monitor students' understanding of Cognitive Constructivism, based largely on Piaget's theory, (although Dewey and Bruner were also constructivists) and make sure that they differentiate it with Social Constructivism, based largely on Vygotsky's theory.

Make sure that students don't get so focused on learning about the stages that they neglect the educational implications of the theory. The stage theory generally doesn't hold up as well as the educational implications of Piaget's theory.

Two books of Piaget's writing on education are To
Understand is to Invent: The Future of Education, Penguin Books, 1976
(see link to free copy provided on the Process page of  this webquest)
and Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child, New York:
Viking Press 1971. Both are short and well worth reading!

Currently I am not using the Quiz feature of the Zunal webquest because it only allows multiple choice items, without a structure whereby students can explain their reasoning, so the quiz is inconsistent with fundamental characteristics of Piaget's theory.

Related Links:

Introduction to Vygotsky's Theory

Vygotsky and Social Cognition

Computational Thinking for middle and high school teachers  (almost an hour long) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoodJILnhRw

This is my first WebQuest, so I would appreciate feedback so that I can improve it in the future! I regularly change it based on feedback. So far I have revised it every semester to better meet the needs of my students. The most recent changes were made February, 2013.  

To learn more about my use of WebQuests, see my chapter, "Consuming and Constructing Knowledge through WebQuests". In Increasing Student Engagement and Retention using Online Learning Activities: Wikis, Blogs and WebQuests - Volume 1 of the Cutting-edge Technologies in Higher Education series. C. Wankel & P. Blessinger, Eds. (2012) Emerald Publishing Group, London.

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