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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Child and adolescent development 0-19


Cognitive development



This topic has explored the roles of different parts of the brain in cognitive development and cognition. In addition, the topic has introduced brain function in relation to learning and has examined executive functioning. In the past Piaget and Vygotsky developed their theories by observing the actions of children – today modern science has made great strides in understanding the role genetics and biochemistry play in cognitive development. By understanding typical development in childhood and adolescence one is better placed to recognise when atypical cognitive development or impairments in executive function occur. In turn this will help teachers to support the learners they work with.

Additional materials

Strategies and support

For information about strategies and support for learners regarding transition and EF skills visit the following websites:

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Spld Transitions (English and Welsh versions)


Berk, L (2004). Development through the lifespans – 3rd ed. United States of America: Pearson Education. inc

Bueree, C (1999). Personality theories.

Kristinsdóttir, B (2001). Lev Vygotsky

Slee, P (2002). Children adolescent and family development. Australia: Cambridge University Press

Matlin, M (2009). A brief history of cognitive psychology. In: Cognitive Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons

McGurt, H (1978). Issues in childhood social development. London: Methuen

Meltzer, L (2007). Executive Function in Education: from theory to practice. New York: The Guildford Press

Smith, P, Cowie, H & Blades, M (2003). Understanding Children’s Development. Blackwell Publishing.

Web links

Parts of the brain and how they function

Neuroscience and education

Neuroscience – for education and lifelong learning

Cognitive neuroscience: implications for education


  • Anderson, V., Anderson, P., Northam, E., Jacobs, R. & Catroppa, C. (2001). Development of Executive Functions through late childhood and adolescence in an Australian sample. Developmental Neuropsychology. 20: 385–406.
  • Blakemore, S. & Choudhury, S. (2006). Development of the adolescent brain: implications for executive function and social cognition. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 47: 296–312.
  • Burgess, P. (1997). Theory and methodology in execute function research. In P. Rabbit (Ed.), Methodology of frontal and executive function (pp.81–116). Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press.
  • Diamond, A., Barnett, W.S., Thomas, J & Munro, S. (2007). Preschool program improves cognitive control. Science. 318: 1387–1388.
  • Harris, M. & Butterworth, G. (2010). Developmental psychology in the 20th century. In: Developmental Psychology: a student’s handbook. New York: Psychology Press.
  • Morgan, S. & Gardener, H. (2007). Hill, Skill and Will: executive function from a multi-intelligences perspective. In: Meltzer L (ed) Executive Function in Education. The Guildford Press, London.
  • Morton, J. & Frith, U. (1995). Causal modeling: a structured approach to developmental psychopathology. In: Cicchetti D & Cohen D (eds) Manual of Developmental Psychopathology. Wiley, New York.

Learning pack contents

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