Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget are well known cognitive psychologists who developed theories which relate to learning and cognitive development among adolescents and children. Jean Piagets theories of cognitive development tend to explain and describe the changes that occur in adolescents and children in logical thinking.According to Piaget children tend to go through four main stages which are usually based on experience and maturation. This theory of cognitive development is usually guided by various assumptions regarding how learners normally interact with their environment and as well as how they integrate new information and knowledge into the already existing one.Lev Vygotskys theories mainly focused on the role of social interactions and culture. According to Vygotsky speech is a great tool in the development of thinking in a child. Speech becomes complex as children develop and age (Mooney, 2013).
Strengths of Piagets Theories of Cognitive Development
Piagets theories mainly focused on the stages of child development. These stages are of great importance since they assist in explaining the thoughts of child processes and the manner in which they view the world. Through this, the parents and teachers are in a better position of understanding the developmental levels of the child. It assists the child while in an educational setting since he/she can learn and work at their level.
The other strength of these theories is that they encouraged a comprehensive education that focused towards the understanding of children. Another strength of the Piagets theories is that they could be referred to as a research break-through since he changed the manner in which people study and view children. It led to the influence of many researchers by his view of cognitive development (Thomas, 2004).
Piaget failed to develop for after adolescence, and as a result, many researchers have come up with post-adolescence development theories such as stage of discovery and relativistic stage unlike his which only focused on the children and hence only a certain group can be compared to it.
Piagets theories often underestimate the intellectual ability of a child. Most of the experiments that Piaget used were most of the times hard to grasp and understand. According to the current researchers young children are in a position of succeeding on simpler types work and tasks which require a set of skills which are the same.
Piagets theories fail to apply to the students who are disabled and hence may be considered as late developers and only aimed at the students who are capable who usually follow development that is normal.
Piagets used research methods which were limited. He examined a small sample size of participants. Piagets theories were biased since he did not consider some socio-economic backgrounds.
Strengths of Vygotskys Theories
These theories greatly emphasize on the socio-cultural context. According to Vygotsky, the society assists in sharing of its cognitive goals with the child and the child tend to shape the environment.
The sensitivity to the diversity of development is considered to be a strength of Vygotsky theories. The theories acknowledge the differences within a single culture and also between other cultures.
The proximity of development that is used in Vygotsky theories is considered to be vague. It is because by only knowing the width of the childs zone is not a guarantee of the learning ability of the child, his/her style of learning and the childs developmental level as compared to that of other children who are of the same age with him/her.
The other weakness that is associated with these theories is that there are no major prototypic tasks that are associated with it. Vygotsky does not carry out experiments and only provided descriptions that are sparse with very minimal data to back up that given information.
Vygotskys theory lacks to provide sufficient attention to developmental issues. The theory only provides minimal information regarding the childs description while at various developmental levels or ages. It gives fewer ideas regarding how the childs cognitive level tend to constrain or permit processes in the zone.
The main element of Peagets theories is that development normally occurs in stages. It is because a child can learn something new at different age and a child cannot learn everything at once but only possible in stages.I believe that the strongest element of Vygotskys theories is that children can perform tasks which are more difficult with the help of individuals who are more knowledgeable. It is because the individual will be able to correct the child whenever he goes wrong and guide the child on the right thing to do this will enhance the development of the child.
Cognitive and socio-cultural development helps in language development since it is through the interaction of the child with a skillful tutor.It is through the tutor that the behavior of the child is modeled and also provided with verbal instructions. The information and instructions are given to guide the children to regulate their performance. Children who engage themselves in large amounts of speech tend to use language to regulate their behavior.
A childs language development follows a given sequence in most cases while in their early age. A caregiver can confirm that the child is progressing when the child starts babbling, the pronunciation of words with clear meaning that child hears or is told when the child starts to mention one word at a time then progress to saying of two words shows that the language of the child is developing.
In conclusion, Vygotskys theories tend to stress the importance of social interaction in the development of cognition. Vygotsky believed that the community plays a significant role in the development of meaning. On the other hand, according to Piaget, the development of children is required to precede their learning.
Miller, P. H. (2016). Theories of developmental psychology.
Mooney, C. G. (2013). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. (Theories of Childhood, Second Edition.) St. Paul: Redleaf Press.
Thomas, R. M. (2004). Comparing theories of child development. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
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