Compare and Contrast Piaget’s VS. Vygotsky
Two of the most recognized cognitive psychologists, are Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, they developed theories based on cognitive development and learning among children and adolescents. Both theorist share some similarities but differences do exist amongst them in educational settings. Methods and approaches to teaching have been greatly influenced by the research of Piaget and Vygotsky. Both brought major contributions to the field of education by offering explanations for cognitive learning styles and abilities of children. Piaget proposed that children go through four stages based on maturation and experience. Piaget was interested in understanding children’s thinking rather than guiding teachers. Piaget proposed that cognitive development from infant to young adult occurs in four universal and systematic stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations.Piaget thought that children go through these processes in staged orders and that a child should be educated based on cognitive capabilities addressed in each stage. He believed the main goal of education should be to help children learn how to learn, and that education should form and not furnish the mind of young students. Piaget's theory is guided by assumptions of how learners interact with their environment and how they integrate new knowledge and information into existing knowledge. Based on Piaget’ assumptions and stages of child-development he proposed teaching should be given based on the stages. For example in the preoperational stages, the teacher should have to use actions and verbal instructions. Because the child has not mastered mental operations thus the teacher should demonstrate her instructions because the child cannot yet think through processes. Although both Piaget and Vygotsky believed that there were some problems out of a child’s range of understanding. In contrast Vygotsky believed that given proper help and assistance, children could perform a problem that Piaget would consider to be out of the child's mental capabilities. The zone of proximal development is the area at which a child can perform a challenging task, given appropriate help.
Lev Vygotsky offered an alternative to Piaget's stages of cognitive development. Vygotsky's proposed a Sociocultural Theory of Development which became a major influence in the field of psychology and education. This theory stated that students learn through social interactions and culture which was much different from what Piaget's theory proposed that stated children act on their environment to learn. Scaffolding is a principle of Vygotsky for sociocultural perspective. Scaffolding provides the learner with clues and hints or clues in problem solving to allow for a better future approach of problem solving. Piaget would assume that a child does not have the mental capabilities to participate in such solving activities, Vygotsky would offer encouragement or strategies, in the form of scaffolding in order to attempt the