Found within is a brief discussion of Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory, along with a brief discussion of spiritual development.

Theory of Cognitive Development: Piagetian Theory

A major cognitive theory of human development that contributed much to psychology and psychological literature was developed by Jean Piaget. The foundational premise of Piagetian theory is that individuals go through four primary stages of human development. Those stages are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational (Lefmann & Combs-Orme, 2013; Ghazi & Ullah, 2016; Wong, Hall, Justice & Hernandez, 2015). Piagetian developmental stages are thought to be a sequential progression through one’s cognitive developmental journey. Stages differ not in the domains of increased information or knowledge, rather they differ in one’s ability to collect and operationalize information (Ewing, Foster & Whittington, 2011; Wong et al., 2015).

Piagetian theory, which some consider too limited in providing a substantive explanation of human development (Ghazi & Ullah, 2016; Wong et al., 2015), has proven to be a worthy theory to launch scientific investigations from (Ghazi & Ullah, 2016; Ewing et al., 2011). Directed by Piagetian theory for generating research hypotheses, both Ghazi and Ullah (2016) and Ewing et al., (2011) were able to empirically support their findings by conducting statistical analysis on their research data that were collected by participant surveys and various psychometrics. Piagetian theory by itself is perhaps empirically inadequate, however, Piagetian theory has been the foundation for numerous empirical studies. Further, Piagetian theory holds great promise for future scientific research. Wong et al. (2015) states that with advancements in psychoneurological measurements, scientists led by Piagetian theory may be able to better understand human cognitive development within Piaget’s stages of human development.


Spiritual Development: A Missing Component

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church of the Thessalonians, he expresses his concern for the preservation and maturation of one’s psychophysiological wellbeing as well as one’s spiritual wellbeing (1 Thessalonians 5:23, AMP). Additionally, a letter by the Apostle Paul written to all of God’s beloved in Rome (Romans 1:7, AMP) further reveals his concern for one’s spiritual development and the psychophysiological impacts thereof. In the same letter, the Apostle Paul discloses that being spiritually developed by the Word of God will allow one to be in control emotionally and in control of the psychophysiological components of one’s being (Romans 8, AMP). From these letters one may infer the importance of spirituality and spiritual development and how they impact an individual holistically (spirit, soul, body and social).

An unfortunate truth, however, is the limited support from an academic perspective granted to spirituality and spiritual development. According to Love and Talbot (2009) and Zaharris, Sims, Safer, Hendricks, Sekulich and Glasgow (2017), the study of spirituality falls short of a full acceptance in academia. Provided that the scientific method is the principle empirical methodology for scientific research, conducting scientific research in the domain of spirituality and spiritual development has proven challenging (Love & Talbot, 2009; Zaharris et al., 2017). Even in the face of academic challenges, researchers are striving to incorporate spirituality and spiritual development within the literature (Love & Talbot, 2009; Zaharris et al., 2017).


Ewing, J. C., Foster, D. D., & Whittington, M. S. (2011). Explaining Student Cognition during Class Sessions in the Context Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. NACTA Journal, 55(1), 68–75. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=72019884&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Ghazi, S. R., & Ullah, K. (2016). Concrete Operational Stage of Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory: An Implication in Learning Mathematics. Gomal University Journal of Research, 32(1), 9–20. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=117769147&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Lefmann, T., & Combs-Orme, T. (2013). Early Brain Development for Social Work Practice: Integrating Neuroscience with Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23(5), 640–647. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1080/10911359.2013.775936

Love, P., & Talbot, D. (2009). Defining Spiritual Development: A Missing Consideration for Student Affairs. NASPA Journal (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Inc.), 46(4), 614–628. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=47331803&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Wong, D., Hall, K. R., Justice, C. A., & Hernandez, L. W. (2015). Human growth and development (Custom Package). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication

Zaharris, M., Sims, P., Safer, L., Hendricks, A., Sekulich, K., Glasgow D. (2017). The Impact of Spirituality on School Leadership. Education Leadership Review, 18(1), 81-95.

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