Comparison of Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget’s Theories

Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget have influenced orientations and methods of teaching. These prominent individuals have contributed to the field of psychology and education by exploring the learning process and cognitive development of children at an early age. But, the theories of these two individuals have similarities and differences. The aim of the following essay is to compare the two theories indicating their similarities and differences.

Similarities between two Sociocultural Theories

In both scenarios, the children continue to learn complex skills and information as they age.

A two-year-old child has different comprehension and understanding level compared to another individual with five years (Tudge & Rogoff, 1999). The child starts from young age and continues to grow while learning more complex information (Smith, Dockrell & Tomlinson, 2003). It also means that the cognitive capacities of children increase depended on period and conditions. It follows a sequence in which certain abilities develop at a specific stage.

Piaget and Vygotsky recognized the importance of nurture in developing a child.

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Nature is associated with the maturation of the body and brain, and the role of heredity also contributes to the development and growth of a child (Tudge & Winterhoff, 1993). Besides, Piaget state that children through adaptation meet the specific requirements of the environment. In this case, adaption is part of nurture implying both fundamentals have to operate at the same time.

Differences between Piaget Cognitive Development Theory and Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

Piaget argues that cognitive development is inbuilt in the child which means a child tries to adapt to changing conditions.

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On the contrary, Vygotsky asserts that social interaction influences cognitive development more considerably. In addition, Piaget supposes that children learn through self-discovery (Tudge & Rogoff, 1999). Vygotsky considers that children learn through the guidance and instruction of adult people. Vygotsky also argues that cognitive development differs based on time and culture while Piaget supposes that cognitive development is universal and independent from periods (Smith, Dockrell & Tomlinson, 2003). Therefore, Vygotsky holds to the belief that the behaviors and development of children directly depend on the cultures and time in where they live. However, Piaget argues and states that universally, without consideration of time and situation, children develop cognitively at the same rate.

For instance, two individuals differ in the learning process. Piaget thinks children only learn when the children are ready to learn (Fox & Riconscente, 2008). But, Vygotsky presents that the development and learning of a child can be accelerated providing it is within the ZPD and correct scaffolding (Tudge & Winterhoff, 1993). In addition, Piaget indicates that language is the outcome of cognitive development. Vygotsky argues that language is just important to cognitive development (Tudge & Rogoff, 1999). The role of language and the fundamentals of the language are different for both individuals (Smith, Dockrell & Tomlinson, 2003). Vygotsky believes that a child should be able to use language so that the individual cognitively develops. Cognitive development affects the growth of language. It seems these individuals differ in many areas.

In conclusion, the primary contrast between Vygotsky and Piaget is the acquisition of knowledge. According to Piaget, self-discovery is that we should entrust more knowledgeable people to teach children. Vygotsky narratives that a teacher is essential in the development of a certain child. Self-discovery implies children can live in the environment, and the child can adapt to situations as well as various challenges.

Updated: Aug 11, 2021
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Comparison of Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget’s Theories. (2020, Nov 22). Retrieved from

Comparison of Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget’s Theories essay
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