Equilibration – Piaget believed that all children try to strike a balance between assimilation and accommodation, which is achieved through a mechanism Piaget called equilibration.As children progress through the stages of cognitive development, it is important to maintain a balance between applying previous knowledge (assimilation) and changing behavior to account for new knowledge (accommodation).Suppose then that the child encounters a very large dog.

accommodating definition psychology-11

His theories, however, can also be useful for understanding learning in general and can be applied quite usefully to survivors of trauma.

His theories pertaining to the acquisition and processing of knowledge are helpful in understanding the ways in which trauma survivors process the events and emotions surrounding aversive lifetime experiences.

The following from the University of Puget Sound is a simple example clarifying the difference between assimilation and accommodation of knowledge. Accommodation is when you have to turn your round balloon into the shape of a poodle.

“When a child learns the word for dog, they start to call all four-legged animals dogs. People around them will say, no, that’s not a dog, it’s a cat. This new balloon “animal” is a radical shift in your schema (or balloon shape)….

Assimilation of knowledge occurs when a learner encounters a new idea, and must “fit” that idea into what they already know. Accommodation of knowledge is more substantial, requiring the learner to reshape those containers.

You can think of these containers as “schema.” Schema are fluid and constantly evolving vessels students use to process what they see, read, and feel. For example, a two year old’s schema of a tree is “green and big with bark” — over time the child adds information (some trees lose their leaves, some trees have names, we use a tree at Christmas, etc.) – Your balloon just gets full of more information that fits neatly with what you know and adds onto it.

When a child encounters stimuli without assimilating or accommodating it–or without being capable of assimilating or accommodating it–they will fail to “understand.” Whatever new idea they encountered will either have to be further parsed and analyzed, or discarded. Know the difference between assimilating knowledge and accommodating knowledge. Students with access to Wi Fi at home will have a much greater opportunity for “broadband schema”–that is, the kind of schema that is diverse, digital, and at times random and nonsensical. Diversify your teaching strategies This all suggests diversity. What “makes sense” to you is powerful, and it can be hard to get around that no matter how much you recognize it intellectually. Practice, practice, practice Allow students to encounter ideas over and over again from a variety of perspectives, using different “vessels.” This also suggests spiraling big ideas in your curriculum.

And know that what’s happening at the cognitive level will be different for every student because their schema is nuanced and unique. The same with students raised on farms, in the city, in single-parent homes, and so on. But it’s based on your own schema, scale, and timeline. Being exposed to academic standards only a few times in limited number or forms limits a student’s ability to effectively reform said data into useful schema.

A childhood of ranging, divergent thinking that varies in depth, form, and tone can provide a “schema” that more readily accepts new ideas, or has provided the student with an increased sense of self-efficacy in making the effort to do so.

This sort of divergence doesn’t have to be academic, either. Piaget thought of these as processes–assimilating and accommodating knowledge–as both interactive (one affecting the other) and capable of overlapping. Know the basics Know that schema can be thought of as templates or vessels students use to organize knowledge. Encourage self-direction Students will naturally seek out ideas that either align with their own (which isn’t necessarily good), or may be less alarmed to encounter competing thoughts on their own terms when learning on their own. Don’t project what–and how–you understand on students It’s tempting to project your own understanding and preferences onto students as well.

(The following outline of his key concepts has been taken from the following website the work outlined below should be attributed to it’s author Kendra Cherry) Schemas – A schema describes both the mental and physical actions involved in understanding and knowing.