Compare and Contrast Using APA Style
Piaget and Vygotsky can be notes as leaders within psychology specifically regarding how children develop. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief summary of Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories, present similarities and differences and present what is gained by understanding both theories.
A Brief Summary of the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky
Piaget’s theories whether social, emotion, or cogitative present a common theme in which learners need to learn through self- discovery and experiences. Piaget approached theories based on an individual approach and hands-on learning (Lourenco, 2012). Additionally, greater learning transpires when a differing view point is presented, thus requiring an individual to present evidence about why their belief is true.
Piaget’s theory describes two different ways children develop and build schema. Lourenco (2012) presents schema as the way a child cognitively processes information. The first way is assimilation or the way a child responds to a situation that is consistent with what they already know and have established schema. The other option is by accommodation. Accommodation is described as the way a student processes information which results in a change in current schema or the creation of new schema. Piaget coined the phrase equilibrium as the best place for learning. Equilibrium is the balance of assimilation and accommodation being in balance. Piaget stated equilibrium as necessary to allow for more complex connections and growth.
Vygotsky’s theories focus more on the sociocultural interactions. Vygotsky presented children first observe interactions in a social setting to understand social cues and interactions. Through these observations and interactions children learn how to solve similar problems based on skills learned through past experiences. Furthermore, Vygotsky theorized children need to review material to gain knowledge and should not rely on one application to learn a new concept (Lourenco, 2012).
One of the most accepted theories by Vygotsky is known as the zone of proximal development. The zone of proximal development is concerned the area where a child is best able to learn. This zone is often categorized as the difference between what a child can do independently and what they are able to do with minimal assistance using scaffolding. Vygotsky’s term scaffolding be defined as support frame work for children’s learning. When the child becomes more capable and confident gradually withdrawal support.
Similarities in the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky
Even though Piaget and Vygotsky hold differing theories, they both studied child development and continue to be relevant when studying child development. While Piaget’s theories do not appear to focus on the need for social interactions, both Piaget and Vygotsky believed relationship to be important including the need for verbal cooperation and the importance of imaginative play. Furthermore, both of their theories integrated the need for connections and a variety of interrelated functions as well as that information is organized through experiences. However, a child learns both Piaget and Vygotsky help true that learning lead to higher order thinking and knowing right from wrong. Additionally, both agreed testing for intelligence only measures what has been learned not what or how a child is able to learn. Both Piaget or Vygotsky avoided reductionism which is the understanding why something works by breaking it into the simplest process. Both theorist believed internal thought processes could not be reduced to a single process.
Differences Between the Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky
Differences between the theorist came not through basic concepts towards development, but to each theorist personal philosophies and social interactions. These differences in turn shaped their perspective theories. While Piaget and Vygotsky saw the importance of social relationships, their theories differed greatly. Piaget’s central aspect is autonomy when dealing with physical and social development. Vygotsky counters with greater emphasis on social interactions and including social skills required for development. Vygotsky theorized that which is observed through social cues builds intellect. Piaget on the other hand believed in development through personal skills impacted social skills. Educationally Piaget theories learning was more of a spontaneous, natural process. Whereas Vygotsky look at how children responded with assistance from adults or older peers.
What can be Gained by a Better Understanding of These Theories
While Lourenco (2012) presented similarities between Piaget and Vygotsky, it is the differences which continue to support positive steps in helping children develop into the best version of themselves. Understanding the differences and similarities, allows for a blended approach based on the need of each child instead of a cookie cutter proposal. Using the best from Piaget and Vygotsky continues to push current researchers to find best practice as well as pushes for exploration of areas not yet fully studied.
While the theorists, Piaget and Vygotsky, appear contradicted to one another in most aspects of development, they shared many perspectives and assumptions. Both theorists can stand independently; however, it is when their similarities and differences are examined with an eclectic approach the greatest impact in understanding development especially in children is realized. Each theorist brings a unique understanding to development while complementing the findings of the other.