Compare and contrast Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of cognitive development in children

This essay will compare Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of cognitive development in children. Also, show the differences between the two psychologist’s theories. Thus, by showing their similarities like in language and adaptation theories. Further, differences like Piaget’s theory on cognitive developmental stages and the schemas which are build to learn or accommodate new words or things. Vygostky’s theory differs to Piaget’s theory by his socio-cultural and language theories. Finally, bring all this points together by drawing a conclusion.

Cognitive development is defined as the growth of mental faculties from birth to adult age. This is continually process as the children go about life they learn skills, language to further their cognitive development. Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky were both interested in this field and they findings have influenced and impacted the children learn and education in better way. According to Piaget children cognitive development is universal a process which the child goes through once and this process is divided into four different stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations and formal operations (Gross, 2004).

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Sensorimotor stage beginnings between the birth until two years of age. At this stage Piaget suggested that children distinguished themselves from objects.

Also, they experience their environment through their senses (Gross, 2004). Further, children start to take initiative and be able to reflex like kicking playing or grasping things. In addition, children start to realise that even when the object is not visible but still exist, which is called object permanence (Beck, 2000). The second stage Piaget called it as preoperational a stage between the ages of two and seven years old.

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In preoperational stage children are able to use language to name objects animals and group things into groups. But their abilities of thinking at this stage still egocentric because hardily they can take the view point of others (Beck, 2000). Also, Piaget divided this stage into two; the pre-conceptual and the intuitive. First, children in preconceptual cannot differentiate colour or size at the same time a process which Piaget called centration. In contrast, Vygotsky named it as complexive thinking meaning that when one is grouping things or events according to their common features like shape or colour (Gross, 2004). The pre-conceptual stage is between the ages of two to four years.

Further, children at this sub stage cannot recognise order or sequences (Gross, 2004). Second, intuitive stage takes place between the ages of four to seven years. In this stage Piaget believed that children cannot understand conservation that still the same when they change their form (Gross, 2004). The third stage is the concrete operational stage which Piaget believed that children at ages of seven to eleven they develop metal abilities of thinking logically (Carlson, 2010). Further, children at this stage understand compensation, reversibility and identity (Beck, 2000). The fourth and finally Piaget stage is the formal operational at this stage the children have ability to think abstract and logically (Gross, 2004). Thus, in this stage young people go through different changes in their development meaning that they are aware of their decisions making and taking other peoples opinions. According to Piaget this stage is between the ages of eleven until the adolescent (Gross, 2004). Thus, another different between Piaget’s theory and Vygotsky’s theory is the Piaget schemas theory.

According to Piaget schemas are divided into three points the assimilation, accommodation and equilibration (Gross, 2010). Actually, schemas are defined as mental and physical aspect of understanding better children during their life span (Beck, 2004). Assimilation is process when a child adds new information into the ones which are known to her or to him (Gross, 2010). Instead, accommodation inquires adapting and be aware of new and old information. The last one is the equilibration which Piaget believed that a child at this point has the abilities to balance information back and forth in order to practise and get the information restored. And the child does it by accommodation and assimilation (Carlson, 2010). In other hand, Vygotsky suggest that language is the fundamental basis for the children cognitive development (Gross, 2010). Also, language is one the factors that influence children to use inner speech when learning new objects or words (Gross, 2010).

But there is problem with this theory because other psychologists do not support this theory. Instead, Piaget argued and suggested that children at that stage are egocentric and have some form vocabulary limitation. Further, this might explain the children self talk (Gross, 2010). In another Process which Vygotsky explained was the Zone of Proximal development which the child learn skills with help of adults to expand their knowledge (Carlson, 2010). Further, Vygotsky also suggested that by children interacting with their family members helps them to become better verbally (Beck, 2004). Furthermore, Vygotsky come with theory of scaffolding which is explained that parents or adults should support their children y solving problem step by step without causing them frustration. By doing that when children show some form of improvement of master those skills, parents should then leave the children by themselves (Carlson, 2010).

But Piaget contradicts this theory by suggesting that children at this they cannot think properly (Gross, 2010). Vygotsky’s suggested that there are three processes which parents pass their knowledge through their children; imitative learning, instructed learning and collaborative learning (Beck, 2004). Imitative is when children do or copy what their role models do. Further, the instructed learning is when the child does what he or she was told by adults or puts it into practice. Another point is the collaborative learning when a group of children work together to learn or to achieve a goal (Gross, 2010). Contrary to Piaget’s theory, was the socio- cultural theory which Vygotsky suggested that, the environment in which the child grows plays an important role in cognitive development of the child. In addition, Vygotsky went on by suggest that children learn from important people in their life, like parents, teachers and friends or family members which are as role model in their point of view (Gross, 2010).

This contradict Piaget’s cognitive development stages theory which he believed to be universal, and what the child goes through or what she or he learns at every age is the same everywhere in world and for every child (Beck, 2004). Looking at how Piaget and Vygotsky went about to explain their theories one can found contrast and similarities. Vygotsky focused in importance of language and how they went on learning how to resolve problems. In addition, Vygotsky’s theories lacked enough evidences to support them and for this reason they were not tested (Beck, 2004). Meanwhile, Piaget observed his own children when playing to support his theories (Gross, 2010). Further, Piaget had less interest on the social development theory. But Vygotsky focused on the social part of the cognitive development (Gross, 2010).

Overall, there are differences between the Piaget’s theories and Vygotsky’s theories but in some point there were similarities. For instance, Vygotsky focused mainly in socio- cultural suggesting that where the child grows has vital role on his cognitive development. Whereas, Piaget’s theory were more related to schemas and stages of cognitive development which Piaget suggested that they were universal. But both agreed that language is important and that teacher were important for child’s cognitive development. In brave, Piaget’s theory and Vygotsky’s theories have improved and gave better understanding of children cognitive development and also in the education.

Berk, L. E. (2000). Child Development. 5th ed. Massachusetts: Allyn & bacon. Martin, G. N., Carlson, N. R., & Buskist, W. (2010). Psychology. 4th ed. Essex:Pearson Education. Gross, R. (2004). Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour. 3rd ed. Tonbridge: Hodder & Stoughton. Piaget, J. (1950). The Psychology of Intelligence. New York: Routledge Classics.

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Compare and contrast Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of cognitive development in children. (2016, Mar 28). Retrieved from

Compare and contrast Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of cognitive development in children

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