Psychology / Cognitive Development (Piaget And Vygotsky)

Cognitive Development (Piaget And Vygotsky)

This essay Cognitive Development (Piaget And Vygotsky) is available for you on! Search Term Papers, College Essay Examples and Free Essays on - full papers database.

Autor:  anton  29 August 2010
Tags:  Cognitive,  Development,  Piaget,  Vygotsky
Words: 2490   |   Pages: 10
Views: 1085


I. Theoretical Perspectives

1. Introduction:

There are a number of theorists that have ideas, charts, and graphs about how a child develops. Many are used today to determine when a child is mature, when they can feel emotion, and other important factors to which there are no strict textbook answers for. Piaget and Vygotsky are two theorists that offer theoretical perspectives on how a child develops.

2. Piaget’s Constructivist Theory of Cognitive Development:

Piaget had a phrase that said “Assimilation and Accommodation lead to Adaptation.” Assimilation is when a person fits his or her external information in with what he or she already knows. The change is external in this case. Accommodation is the exact opposite. This is when you have to modify what you already know to make some sense out of the external information. The change is internal. A person must use both of these tactics in order to adapt to a situation (external or internal) correctly and have a regulated equilibrium.

Nature v. Nurture:

In Piaget’s theories, he seems to cover the Nature side of the “Nature v. Nurture” argument. In the textbook assigned for this class, Of Children, by Guy R. Lefrancois, it tells about how and when a child is growing up, he or she is a helpless little organism. (S) he is lacking in stored thought and reasoning. However, they are remarkable sensing machines. They are picking up everything around them in their environment. They look for, seek out, and respond to every stimulation there possibly is.

Continuity v. Discontinuity:

Piaget has two main theories. One theory is on Adaptation, the other is about Development. In terms of the adaptation theory, better known as his Constructivist theory, continuity seems to take place. This theory ,and its content, is not something that would stop at a certain age. It is a continual process that everyone has until death.

Piaget’s Developmental Theory, better known as his Stage Theory, he describes how a person develops from birth and how each level effects a person. (Described in more detail on page six) This is an example of discontinuity. His stages only approach up to, and end with, approximately age fifteen. This theory does not seem to have any major factors after approximately age fifteen.

Individual Differences:

No child is the same even if they are brought up the same way. People learn that through the Nature V. Nurture argument, but that is another story. There are major factors that can disrupt the Stage theory or the Constructivist theory. A person could have a dysfunction or a special need that needs to be dealt with. For example, is a little boy has a brain dysfunction that disrupts his learning abilities, there is a high percentage of chance that he will not develop at the same pace and rate as other children in his generation and environment.

With the Constructivist Theory, a child may not know how to deal with his or her internal emotions and/or thoughts. If that child does not know how to deal with his or her own internal workings, there is going to be much difficulty trying to deal with a personal accommodation. The same thing goes with assimilation. If a child does not know how to deal with his or her external environment, there is going to be difficulty changing them and dealing with assimilation.

Dealing with the Developmental Theory (Stage Theory), a child may have the same dysfunction and not be able to move up the ladder of stages. There are those rare cases where a child may be stuck at one stage, or a child may not develop everything he or she needs to move on.

A. Organizational and Adaptive Processes that Account for Cognitive Development:

The three adaptive processes for cognitive development are assimilation, accommodation, and equilibrium. These are three agents that contribute to a child’s intellectual growth. Ass was covered earlier, assimilation is when a person fits his or her external information in with what he or she already knows and accommodation is when you have to modify what you already know to make some sense out of the external information.

Equilibrium is what keeps both assimilation and accommodation balanced. Having a well-balanced equilibrium is having a healthy adaptation level. If Assimilation or Accommodation overpower another, a person may develop differently.

B. The Four Periods of Cognitive Development in Piaget’s Theory:

This theory is better known as Piaget’s Stage Theory because it deals with four stages of development. Each stage has its own components and major characteristics that take place. They are all separated by an approximate amount of years which a child would fall under.

1. Sensorimotor: (Ages Birth – 2)

This stage is primarily physically based. It has to do with building up a type of coordination between sensations that are felt and the movements that cause them or are caused by the sensation. The main movements that a child deals with at this point are involuntary movements called reflexes.

During this stage, the child, through physical interactions with his or her own environment, builds a set of concepts about reality, and it really works.

2. Pre-operational: (Ages 2 – 7)

The child now knows about certain movements and reflexes that happen. Now is the time for the child to realize that there is a differentiation between his or her own “self” and the “other” people. A type of egocentric thought begins to develop.

3. Concrete Operational: (Ages 7 – 11)

At this point, the child has the ability to think abstractly. His or her thought process has widened. A number of physical experiences have happened in his or her life. A thought process begins to connect these physical actions to explanations of why they happened. They can now use rule of logic. Using logic, the child is capable of reversibility and conservation.

4. Formal Operational: (Ages 11 – 15)

The child at this point is able to imagine a hypothetical situation, or solve a problem that it not directly in front of them. Conceptual reasoning is now possible of the child. They are becoming more adult-like in their thought structures and processes. There is high potential in the child to use logic to his or her fullest capacity.

C. Characteristic Features of Thinking In Each Piagetian Period:

1. During the first stage of Piaget’s Theory (Sensorimotor), the child basically deals with what is presented to him. At birth, the child realizes that if an object is not in front of him or her, it does not exist. After the first six to eight months, the development of something called object permanence comes in. Once object permenance takes place, the child can realize that an object will continue to exist after it is out of view.

2. During the Pre-operational stage, the child is very egocentric. The world revolves around only him or her. There is no ability to see the perspectives of another person. If a child is playing "Peek-a-boo” with another person, the child will only cover her eyes. She assumes that if she cannot see, she cannot be seen.

The child also does not understand conservation. If there is a ball of clay that is shown to the child, he or she will recognize that ball of clay as one size. If that ball of clay is flattened with no amount added or taken away, the child will see that the ball is not the same anymore. He or she will recognize that there must be less in the flattened ball of clay than in the regular ball of clay. If that flattened ball is then rolled into a snake-like shape, the child will then think that there is more of it. Since it will be longer.

3. During the Concrete Operational stage, the child becomes capable of logical reasoning and thinking. The children of this age are in school. They are able to take other people’s perspectives and views. It is like a shallow form of empathy.

They can now group certain things into categories, and put objects into size order, number order, and any other types of systematic ordering. They can see that A is greater than C, B is less than A, and B is greater than C. There is a form of logical reasoning that they use at this age. This helps when the child is being taught to add and subtract without counting.

4. During the Formal Operational stage, the child is able to think hypothetically. A child can now imagine solutions to problems or even figure out problems without trial and error to stumble upon it. This stage is generally like the preceding stage but in a more advanced level.

3. Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development:

Nature V. Nurture:

In Lev Vygotsky’s theories, he seems to cover the Nurture side of the “Nature v. Nurture” argument. He relied mostly on three things that all revolved around everything teaching the child how it is raised: Culture, Language, and The Zone of Proximal Development. In each category he speaks about the influence that each section gives to the child as he or she is being raised.


A culture is like a life of its own. Vygotsky separates the importance of culture into two sections: Elementary Mental Thinking, and Higher Mental Thinking. Elementary mental thinking is like instinct. It is using what we have not learned. We already have it inside of us. It is shown when a new-born turns his head when a person speaks, and how the baby can recognize the mother’s smell.

Higher mental thinking is evident in many things. Our use of language and our thinking processes are example of using a higher mental thinking. These type of processes require human contact, and interaction with others.


Language is the main think that makes even thinking a possibility. Language is the difference between thinking on an elementary level and on a higher level. In itself, language has three separate categories: Social, Egocentric, and Inner.

Social speech expresses simple thoughts and emotions. It is what is heard from children everyday when they ask for a glass of milk or a toy. It takes place around age three.

Egocentric speech is like the ego of speech. It mediates between the Social Speech and the Inner Speech. It can control a child’s behavior, but as it can be spoken out loud.

Inner Speech begins around age seven. This form of language is like our conscience. It is self-talk. People use inner speech when thinking to themselves. It helps control social speech and what is said out loud.

The Zone of Proximal Development:

The zone of Proximal Development can be looked upon as a chart on potential for learning. Everything that is learned and used is someone’s “independent performance.” Anything above that is what is called “assisted performance.” The fact that things are being learned in Vygotsky’s theory shows that he takes the “nurture” side of the “Nature V. Nurture” argument. The Zone of Proximal Development will be explained in greater detail later in this paper.

Continuity / Discontinuity:

Within those three components of Vygotsky’s theory, it seems as though continuity is key. They all seem to continue instead of ceasing at a certain age. It is not like at a certain age, someone leaves a culture to go to another. Cultures live on through traditions and rituals that the members carry on.

Language obviously doesn’t stop. It is too much of a necessary communication device. It helps a human being be a human being. All three types of language are used everyday of life.

The Zone of Proximal Development is apparent in everyday activities; mostly at our jobs. Everyone is presented with different tasks everyday. Some are simple tasks that can be performed with ease. Some tasks need help from others. Whatever is learned from someone else becomes transformed from assisted performance to individual performance.

Individual Differences:

Vygotsky’s theory is developed around the fact that development is a social process. He does not believe that a person can individually grow. The only way a child can learn is by being around more competent peers, adults, and individuals.

This also proves once again that Vygotsky takes the “Nurture” side of the “Nature V. Nurture” argument. He is always going for the learned tactics of development.

A. Culture and Society:

Culture plays a big part in Vygotsky’s Cognitive Development Theory. He believed that the environment around an individual played the largest part of development. A person could not develop the way he or she had without learning from others in the environment they were raised in.

Certain cultures do not stay the same after years together. They change and grow, as do individuals. That is mainly due to the fact that the individuals make up that culture and carry it on.

B. Vygotsky’s View on Piaget’s Stage Theory:

Vygotsky did not believe in stages. Piaget based his theory mainly on stages. The main reason why Vygotsky did not believe in stages is because of the continuity factor. He believed that characteristics did not cease at a certain point. Everything was progressive. When one thing was learned, it was used from then on. It did not stop just because a child entered another stage of development.

C. The Function of Instruction in Development:

There is really only one phrase that can describe this particular section. Learning leads to development. This phrase is true. Learning acts as a way of developing. Development, according to Vygotsky, is completely social, and the way a society, culture, or environment develops is through learning from others.

D. The Zone of Proximal Development:

The Zone of Proximal Development has to do with a child’s potential to do something. Everything that is learned and used after it is learned is someone’s “independent performance.” Anything above that and is assisted by being taught or physically shown is what is called “assisted performance.” Whatever is learned can be used over and over again with ease. There is no assistance necessary after it is learned. Sometimes a person approaches a situation where he or she does not know exactly what to do. That person can be taught. The potential and degree to which that person can be taught is what the “assisted performance” is all about. You cannot teach a newborn calculus but you can teach a college student calculus.


Information taken from a website based on:

Flavell, J.H. (1963). The Development Psychology of Jean Piaget. New York: D. Van Nostrand

Get Better Grades Today

Join and get instant access to over 60,000+ Papers and Essays

Please enter your username and password
Forgot your password?