Essay Example on Comparing Vygotsky and Piaget

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Comparing Vygotsky and Piaget Stacie Richerson Northcentral University Comparing Vygotsky and Piaget To be an excellent educator teachers need to understand the process in which children learn The theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky on cognitive development continue to influence the development of methods that continue to guide our educational system today This essay summarizes the theories of both Piaget and Vygotsky pointing out their similarities and differences and what s gained by a better understanding of these theories Brief Summary of the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky Piaget s Theory Piaget was a Swiss psychologist born in 1896 He was the first psychologist to study cognitive development While grading an IQ test working at the Binet Institute in the 1920 s he discovered that the cognitive processes are different in children than adults

This discovery and observations he made while observing his own children prompted his developmental theory of child cognitive development Piaget developed a theory in which he believes that children are self taught through trial and error developing knowledge from basic inborn instincts that naturally evolve through maturation and interacting with their environment His theory suggests that all children regardless of cultural difference go through a sequence of the same four stages of cognitive development the sensorimotor preoperational concrete operational and formal operational stage Piaget believes children have schemas that they rely on to understand the world around them and when introduced to new information that does not match their schema it causes conflict A child will then use assimilation and accommodations to adapt to the new information to achieve equilibration allowing a child to move to the next stage Vygotsky's Theory Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who was also born in 1896 He died at age 38 unable to complete his theory of cognitive development His theory derived from Marxist ideology and after his death his work became the foundation for Social Development Theory 



He was Vygotsky was interested in how culture and social interactions affect cognitive development His theory suggests that children learn through language within self and by language from what he calls the More Knowledgeable Other MKO and scaffolding He developed the Zone of Proximal Development ZPD which is the difference in a child's current knowledge and their potential knowledge with help from a MKO The child is then able to shift potential knowledge to current knowledge allowing learning to continue Similarities in the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky Both Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories share many similar concepts Their focus is concerned with the process in which a child develops both believing that cognition develops over time as new information builds on prior knowledge through active learning Piaget and Vygotsky share a dialectical approach that suggests the conflict between internalization and externalization in Vygotsky's theory and assimilation and accommodation in Piaget's theory is what motivates a child s active learning and the development of logical reasoning Both theories focus more on the qualitative changes over the quantitative changes Other similarities between these theorists include a non reductionist view of intelligence and non dualistic thesis meaning that social and physical attributes of a child are independent of each Lourenco 2012 Differences Between the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky Although both theorists believe that cognition develops from connecting prior knowledge to new knowledge the main difference between these theories is how the child connects the two and obtains new knowledge 




According to Lourenco Piaget and Vygotsky s crucial differences on the origins of knowledge stem from Piaget s religious orientation to immanence and autonomy and Vygotsky s orientation to transcendence and heteronomy Lourenco 2012 Vygotsky s believes a child constructs a meaning of the world from the transmission and social influences from the outside in while Piaget believes a child makes sense of the world by transformation and personal reconstruction from the inside out Piaget's theory consists of a sequence of stages in development while Vygotsky does not believe in stages and believes in a continuous development learning through symbols and instruction from an MKO What Can be Gained by a Better Understanding of These Theories Teachers that understand Vygotsky and Piaget's cognitive development will improve their teaching and student learning By understanding students process of thinking they can align their teaching strategies with students cognitive levels


 Concepts like hand on learning scaffolding promoting critical thinking through problem solving and reflection connecting prior knowledge to new material connecting learning to life experiences and cultural backgrounds checking for understand and adjusting instruction and promoting social development are all teaching standards that have been developed and align through understanding Piaget and Vygotsky's cognitive development theories Conclusion Both Vygotsky and Piaget's theories have had a great impact on how our current educational systems developed Both theories are evident in the development of both California's Common Core State Standards which defines what children should know at each grade level and in California's Standards for Teaching which is the curriculum and strategies a teacher uses to guide student knowledge needed to progress from grade level to grade level Despite the many similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky both theories are important to understanding the process in which children learn and the development of curriculum and teaching strategies that meet the diverse population of children


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