ACTIVITY 2.3: Piagetian Concrete Reasoning Patterns

Piaget developed a number of tasks designed to be administered to individual student. This activity will enable you to administer several tasks to explore the nature of preoperational versus concrete thinking patterns.


Piagetian tasks, clay, 2 vials, 2 candy bars


1. Administer these tasks to two or three middle school/junior high age students. You will have to make special arrangements to do this by contacting the school officials. There are certain processes that you should keep in mind when administering these tasks: a). Help the student relax by telling the student that you have a few activities or games to play, and that all answers are acceptable. b) Accept all answers. Remember that you are trying to understand the student's thinking pattern, and the tasks are a way to discover this. Help the students as much as you can to verbalize their thinking by encouraging them to go on and tell you more. c) Give the students time to think after you ask a question. d) Always ask the students to justify their answers to the tasks. Again, be patient with the students, by helping them along, and even suggesting or paraphrasing what other students may have said and asking the student to agree or disagree with the other students.

2. Gather all the materials needed for each task. When you are administering the tasks, only have in sight the materials pertinent to the current task. You might have all the materials in a small box removing and returning the materials as needed.

3. Administer the tasks following the procedures outlined in the chart (Figure 2.25b)

Minds On Strategies.

1. Summarize the results using the Table below:

Summary of Concrete Tasks


Student Response


Intellectual Level: (P): Propositional; (Tr): Transitional; (C): Concrete


  • Mass
  • Weight
  • Volume
  • Continuous





  • Number




2. How did the students do on the following concrete reasoning patterns: class inclusion, serial ordering, reversibility, and conservation?

3. How would you classify the students intellectual level of thinking: preoperational, transitional, concrete operational? What are your reasons?

4. What would the implications be for a teacher working with these students if these concepts were presented: Newton's first law of motion; classification of rocks; the concept of geological time?