Comparing And Contrasting Piaget's And Vygotsky's Theories Of Cognitive Development

2885 words, 12 pages

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The field of Cognitive Development focuses on the way in which individuals acquire knowledge and understanding about the world around them over the life course (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2003). The following outlines two major theories in this realm, namely Jean Piaget’s stage theory of cognitive development, and Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of cognitive development.
Piaget emphasised developmental changes in the organisation of children’s thinking processes and the ways that differences in these structures are reflected in children’s learning at different ages. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory suggests that a child’s level of competence interacts with her social environment producing advances in thinking and understanding... View More »

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For Example, A baby of four months has a separate looking and grasping schema. Soon the baby will be able to look at an object and grasp it.
Adaptation is the striving of an organism for equilibrium with the environment. It occurs through the twin processes of assimilation and accommodation (Smith et al, 2003). Through assimilation the child ‘takes in’ a new experience and fits it into an existing schema e.g. Having learned the word ‘dog’ an infant may classify all animals as dogs. This process is balanced by accommodation whereby an infant adjusts an existing schema to fit in with the nature of the environment (Smith et al, 2003). From experience the child perceives that cats are different than dogs and may develop separate schemata for these animals.

Stages
Using observations, dialogues and small scale experiments, Piaget suggested that children progress through four general stages of thinking, each of which corresponds to broad changes in the structure of logic (Smith, et al, 2003). These stages are sensori-motor (split into 6 sub-stages), pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. He maintained that children pass through them in an invariant sequence but at different rates.
Some Key characteristics of each stage are outlined as follows:
Sensori-motor period (birth – 2 yrs) Object permanence is acquired i.e. the recognition that objects continue to exist when they are no longer visible.
Pre-operational period (2-7 yrs) Development of symbolic thought but the inability to understand conservation i.e. the awareness that physical ...

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