Conceptual Development: Piaget's Legacy

By Ellin Kofsky Scholnick; Katherine Nelson et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
The Conceptual Habitat: In What Kind of System Can Concepts Develop?

David Klahr Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Some theories of conceptual development focus on the content of domain-specific conceptual acquisitions (e.g., Carey, 1985), while other theories emphasize domain-general processes that support the various acquisitions (e.g., Halford, 1993). A few offer balanced accounts of content and process, but in limited domains such as arithmetic (e.g., Siegler, 1996; Siegler & Shipley, 1995). In this chapter, I focus on a third aspect of conceptual development by addressing the following question: In what kind of system can conceptual development occur? This question differs from questions about the content or process of conceptual development because it addresses the nature of the underlying system that represents content and executes processes.

This difference can best be understood in terms of the following analogy. Consider the situation you find yourself in when you purchase a new piece of software. You know that the compact disk (CD) contains all the data and programs required to function properly, but something else is necessary before the programs and data can become operational. They can work only if you have a computer with both a minimal hardware capacity (i.e., disk space, random-access memory capacity, monitor specifications) and a minimal level of operating system. If any of these constraints is not met, you cannot use the CD. Now imagine that your CD contains a "universal conceptual development kit." (See Fig. 6.1.) Do you have a system that can handle it? Analogously, given any particular theoretical statement about the mechanisms of conceptual development, we can ask: What kind of

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Conceptual Development: Piaget's Legacy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter 1 1
  • Part 1 - How Should We Represent the Workings and Contents of the Mind? 21
  • Chapter 2 23
  • Chapter 3 53
  • Chapter 4 79
  • Chapter 5 103
  • Chapter 6 131
  • Part II - How Does the Child Construct a Mental Model during the Course of Development? What Is the Developmental Origin of This Model? 163
  • Chapter 7 165
  • Chapter 8 185
  • Chapter 9 209
  • Part III - What Accounts for the Novelties That Are the Products and Producers of Developmental Change? 241
  • Chapter 10 243
  • Chapter 11 253
  • Chapter 12 269
  • Chapter 13 293
  • Author Index 327
  • Subject Index 337
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