Discussion: The Contribution of Classical Theorists to Contemporary Developmental Theorists
While all major developmental theories attempt to explain the growth of individuals, each theory has a slightly different perspective. Some theories emphasize environmental (nurture) more than biological (nature) influences. Some theories focus on a particular construct (e.g., cognition), while others emphasize the impact of age range in shaping development. Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory emphasizes fixed stages during which the mind’s capacities allow an individual to learn about the world. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, on the other hand, is not stage-based and describes growth as an interaction between the individual and his or her environment.
Contemporary theories (e.g., Langer’s theory of mindfulness) typically build upon the foundation generated by earlier theories. Langer’s theory of mindfulness contains similarities to classical theories, such as Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, in that they both agree that development is contextual and the organism is an active “mindful” participant. Langer took Vygotsky’s theory to a new level, focusing specifically on education and the learner. Other contemporary theories include neo-Piagetian cognitive developmental theories, which attempt to address the limitations found within Piaget’s classical theory. Robbie Case, Andreas Demetriou, and Kurt Fischer proposed theories that were extensions of Piaget’s theory. These theorists added concepts that expanded on cognitive functioning within the stages of development. Most developmental psychologists today do not believe that a single perspective or theory can sufficiently explain lifespan development; rather, an eclectic approach accounts for development better.
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For this Discussion, you will examine classical and contemporary developmental theories as they relate to current applications in developmental psychology.
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Review the course text and other Learning Resources related to mid-20th-century theories and recent theoretical perspectives
- Select two theories from the following list, one from each column (classical, contemporary), that examine the same developmental processes (i.e., cognitive, physical, and/or social-emotional).
By Day 4
Post a brief description of the two theories you selected (one classical and one contemporary). Contrast the theories you selected. Specifically, identify important similarities and differences, including an explanation of the strengths and limitations of each theory in explaining developmental processes (i.e., cognitive, physical, and social-emotional). Note: Your descriptions should be in paragraph form, not bullet points. Use your Learning Resources and/or other scholarly sources to support your post. Use proper APA format and citations.
By Day 6
Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ posts and search the Internet and/or the Walden Library and select a current article (within the last 5 years) that is related to the same developmental process (i.e., cognitive, physical, and social-emotional) that your colleague posted. Summarize the article and describe the theory identified within the article.
Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting and answer any questions. Note what you have learned and/or any insights that you have gained as a result of your colleagues’ comments.
Submission and Grading Information
To access your rubric:
Week 3 Discussion Rubric
Post by Day 4 and Respond by Day 6