Home > Educators > Logical Skill Development and Piaget’s Conservation Tasks

Welcome to Sky Labs. Here we keep ourselves engaged with children (K-12); the idea is to develop skills. If you have not watched the video then I would recommend you to do so.


In this post, we would like to share our understanding and findings with respect to logical skills using Piaget’s conservation tasks. We hope you enjoyed watching the children perform the 5 conservation tasks. If your speakers were loud enough, you would have caught me telling conversion instead of conservation. By the way, the choice of the word means a lot to a researcher. In the context of the above task, we would prefer to say ‘Conservation’, as the understanding that something stays the same in quantity even though its appearance changes. All the 5 tasks (which you have seen in the video) are basically trying to evaluate the logical ability of the child and also the progression of their skills as they grow up. It is true that we don’t believe that skills only develop with age and even Piaget did not claim that a particular skill is achieved at a certain age – although the response to the tasks often includes an indication of the age.

Interestingly the tasks can be mapped to the second and third stages of cognitive development which explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world. What Piaget wanted to do was not to measure how well children could count, spell or solve problems as a way of grading their I.Q. What he was more interested in was the way in which fundamental concepts like the very idea of number, time, quantity, causality, justice and so on emerged. Here are the four stages of development by Jean Piaget.

Stages of Development:

  1. Sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2)

The main achievement during this stage is object permanence – knowing that an object still exists, even if it is hidden. You must have noticed small babies cry when their mother is not around. From the baby’s point of view, the mother doesn’t exist if she is not visible. I think that’s the reason babies love to play peek-a-boo.

  1. Pre-operational stage (from age 2 to age 7)

Children in the early preoperational period fail on all of these tasks, typically giving answers that conform to the most salient dimension (e.g., in the number conservation task, 3- and 4-year-olds typically state that the longer transformed line has ‘more’). Children in the late preoperational period often succeed at some of these tasks, but fail to provide adequate justifications for their judgments. This is due to their incapacity to understand the transformation there is the precedence of perception before logic.

  1. Concrete operational stage (from age 7 to age 11)

Piaget considered the concrete stage a major turning point in the child’s cognitive development because it marks the beginning of logical or operational thought. This means the child can work things out internally in their head (rather than physically try things out in the real world). It is not until the concrete operational period that children can reliably supply logical justifications, such as reversibility, for conservation tasks.

  1. Formal operational stage (age 11+ – adolescence and adulthood).

The formal operational stage begins at approximately age eleven and lasts into adulthood. During this time, people develop the ability to think about abstract concepts, and logically test hypotheses. As educators it is important to understand, assimilation requires an active learner, not a passive one because problem-solving skills cannot be taught, they must be discovered. Through these tasks and similar engagements with children, we can help them to move from stage 1 to stage 4 smoothly and early.

DO IT YOURSELF – Try the conservation tasks with your children once and note their response. Repeat and reverse the tasks e.g., the task 3 #Volume in the video where the two identical cups were filled equally. Then the liquid from one of the cups was poured into the graduated cylinder and the child was asked to say which container has more liquid. Reversing the task would mean to pour back the liquid from the graduated cylinder to the empty cup and measure the volume again. This will help the child to discover conservation and understand concepts better. Don’t forget to share your experience with us.

2 Comments, RSS

  • Vandana Patel

    says on:
    January 21, 2018 at 4:08 am

    I liked the concept of practical approach of the theories often heard in our educational world.

  • Farha

    says on:
    January 21, 2018 at 5:22 am

    The article is presented precisely.

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