Compare and Contrast Piaget and Vygotsky Theories of Learning

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Similarities and Differences Piaget and Vygotsky Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget and Vygotsky are considered to be the two main contributors in influencing the development of psychology. The two theories when presented in their own constructivist views on the development of a child; this constructivist theory is a theory that explains that most of the individuals organize information based on the experience they had before (Lourenço, 2016). However, the Piaget emphasizes on the significance of the children learning through interacting with their surrounding environment. In the case of Vygotsky, it is believed that children are to learn through having interpersonal experiences and also according to their culture. The main purpose of this essay is to bring out the Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s views on the development of a child and also critically evaluate the similarities and the differences between these two theories.

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The major component in Piaget’s concept is that children always develop over a course of four distinct stages. These four stages are as follows; first, children from birth to the age of two are said to be in the sensorimotor phase. In this stage, the first sense they have is the experience which helps them understand how objects permanence and understands that objects do exist even if  they cannot be seen and also understand that, for any action, it is always accompanied by more actions (Lourenço, 2016). From the age of two years to seven years, this stage of children is said to be the preoperational stage. In this phase of growth, children are considered to be egocentric in such a manner that, for all they know they assume everyone knows the same thing and at this stage also they tend to acquire every bit of conversation understanding, that is, the amount of a substance always remains unchanged even if their appearance changes with time. Children from the age of seven to eleven years are said to be in the transitional period to a concrete operational stage. At this particular stage for the children, logical reasoning becomes more prominent to them. During this stage, children understand that a person is the same regardless of the changes which occur over a certain period of time. At this particular stage also, children understand that there can be the classification of items according to physical facets as well as being put together with items of similar properties. The last stage in the development of a child is the formal operational stage. This stage occurs for those children who are in the age ranging in between eleven and fifteen (Lourenço, 2016). From this stage, children can finally be able to apply their logical reasoning in the current abstract world. This means that the children are able to have complex thinking and they can format different ways in solving certain case problems in life.

The Piaget’s theory describes two different processes which allow the children be able to advance in their four stages and also to develop their mental schemas such as accommodation and assimilation. For children, schema means the cognitive representation of ideas, items as well other people.  Assimilation for a child means, a child being able to respond to situations in such a way that it is most consistent with the very preexisting schema (Lourenço, 2016). The accommodation is referred to the response to a certain situation whereby the children preexisting schema is modified or a new schema is made during the process. Piaget argues that the two processes are very much crucial for the children to be able to make accurate representations in the environment they live in as well as to be able to adapt to changes. For the children who have balanced assimilation and accommodation, they are said to have reached their state of equilibrium, thus they have earned their very preexisting skills which are enough to enable them to handle the task might be involved in. When children tend to obtain some information that cannot be well understood by their current schema, the children are ranked in the state of disequilibrium which makes them tend to have a real sense of uniqueness within themselves.

For Vygotsky, they proposed that, the sociocultural alternative to Piaget’s cognitive development stages of children. In his theory, he suggests that children operate cognitively dialogues and engagement in social interactions in understanding the symbolisms in context within their culture (Lourenço, 2016). When they interact with other children the obtain skills on solving the certain dilemma in their lives. When are faced with tasks they are experienced before in their lives, they use the previous experience to find the solution by drawing special strategy. Dialogues are very important to children in integrating their speeches which enable them to have complex capabilities in thinking capabilities. Vygotsky identified forms of speech which are developed in scientific order. These three forms are social, private and also internal speech. At first, children are introduced to social speech where they are involved in adult talks and are shown in different forms of direction like addressing a child to go and brush teeth after taking a meal. After this, they use the information obtained from the adults to solve some problems (Lourenço, 2016). For private speech is evolved in inner conversation when children acquire the cultural context which is required in applying abstract concepts of action. The Vygotsky theory has got another significant aspect which is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)(Lourenço, 2016). This defines the gap between children actual development rate as well as what can be achieved by the children while by themselves or with help of adults. To improve the growth of ZPD within the children, the adults should engage themselves in providing guidelines on what is needed in solving certain problems and thus let the children find solutions to the problems without the assistance of the adults. Moreover, as per the principle of Vygotsky in a role of culture for cognitive development, he states that children should be accessing symbolic tools which improve their communication skills. When these skills are fully internalized by the children after receiving the tools, they use them in future actions.

The main difference in logical structure in the two theories is such that, for Piaget, he outlines the four development separate stages that are undergone by all the children regardless of the cultural backgrounds. In his theory, he uses the age ranges for every specific stage and children have to complete one stage within certain age period for them to enter into the following stage of their life growth. In comparison to Vygotsky theory, this theory is relatively independent on time factor and it suggests that all the children have to learn with the help of adults. In this theory, the cognitive development is dependent on the capabilities of the child in social interactions as well as the application of the cultural tools learned in every circumstance faced in life situations. Whereas, in the Piaget theory, he argues that the knowledge of the children is fully developed on individual grounds by using the available surrounding environment(Lourenço, 2016).

Both theories states on the origin of intelligence. For Piaget, he states that the actions of a child determine their intelligence. On the other hand, for Vygotsky, he believes that any learning precedes development since the theory assumes that, children always rely on social interaction for them to integrate cultural symbolism in their cognitive processing (Lourenço, 2016). For Vygotsky, he discusses the origin of intelligence as the act of stimulation from other individuals but for the case of Piaget he said is irrelevant to the interpersonal conversation.

The difference between the two theories is on how children language is developed. For Piaget, he describes private speech of children as the egocentric act since they cannot take another person’s help. In contrast to Vygotsky, he interpreted private speech as the platform for them to understand what is being addressed by the adults upon them(Lourenço, 2016). Vygotsky states that self-oriented speech regulates ones’ behavior but Piaget argues that, it limits thinking capacity.

The two theories their ideas fully differed greatly, they both studied on child development with a very dialectical approach. The theories match in interactions between distinct and interdependent functions on mental. For Piaget, children are always assimilated and accommodated to their schema (Lourenço, 2016). For the case of Vygotsky, they involve themselves to dialogues as well as internalizing cultural tools in the development of inner speech.

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Compare and Contrast Piaget and Vygotsky Theories of Learning. (2019, Oct 10). Retrieved March 24, 2023 , from

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