Jean Piaget’s Theory of Learning
The Learning Theory of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget considered the father of constructivism, focuses on the cognitive development of children and adolescents. His theory describes and explains the changes that occur in logical thinking at these ages. Piaget suggested that cognitive development occurs following a series of stages of maturation and experience: sensory-motor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
Piaget reveals to us in his theory that thanks to the interaction with the environment we acquire new information. But as a constructivist psychologist and pedagogue, in his research he realized that children play an active role in obtaining knowledge, that is, he considered them “little scientists” who actively build their knowledge and understanding of the world.
A schematic summary of Jean Piaget’s Theory
In summary, the key points of his theory are cited below :
- Cognitive development occurs following a series of universal stages.
- Children are active learners who build knowledge from interaction with their environment.
- They learn through assimilation and accommodation, and complex cognitive development occurs through balance.
- Interaction with the physical world is key to cognitive development.
Sociocultural Theory of Lev Vygotsky
Lev Vygotsky is also one of the most influential and important authors in the field of education and psychology. The Theory of the Socio-Cultural Development of Vygotsky states that individuals learn through social interaction and culture. Vygotsky explains that dialogue is an important psychological tool in the development of children’s thinking, and as children grow and develop, their basic language becomes more complex. Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
Language is key in human development because it is produced through processes of exchange and transmission of knowledge in a communicative and social environment. In other words, the transmission of cultural knowledge is carried out through language, which is the main vehicle of the development process and is what decisively influences cognitive development.
Furthermore, as a constructivist psychologist like Piaget, he thinks that children learn actively and through practical experiences. Now, Vygotsky thinks that learning is built through social interactions, with the support of someone more expert. Not like the Swiss psychologist, who claims that knowledge is built individually. Vygotsky was important to understand collaborative learning and to know more about the influence of the socio-cultural environment on the cognitive development of children.
Basic principles of Vygotsky theory Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
- Children develop through informal and formal conversations with adults.
- The first years of life are fundamental for development since it is where thought and language become increasingly independent.
Complex mental activities begin in basic social activities.
- Children can accomplish more difficult tasks with the help of a more skilled individual.
- Tasks that are challenging promote growth in cognitive development.
Similarities between both theories
The theories of Vygotsky and Piaget have similarities, but there are also some differences. First of all we are going to start with the similarities.
Both Piaget and Vygotsky are two constructivist theorists, although the latter is considered the main precursor of social constructivism. They both think that children are active learners who actively organize new information with existing information. Therefore, Piaget and Vygotsky postulated that knowledge is built by each subject and is not the result of an acquisition of responses.
Both authors think that cognitive development declines over time. They also believe that cognitive development begins with conflict. For example, in the case of Piaget, when the child realizes that a new idea does not fit with previous knowledge, and then it is necessary for him to seek a new answer to allow balance. Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
In addition, both Piaget and Vygotsky share the idea of the importance of play in the psychological, pedagogical, and social aspects of the human being. Lastly, they both think that language is important for cognitive development, but from different perspectives.
Differences between both theories
After seeing the similarities between the theories of these two authors, let’s move on to the differences :
1. Knowledge construction Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
As we can see, both authors are constructivists, but Vigotsky differs from Piaget in the role played by the environment and culture. For Vigotsky, in addition to seeing the child as an active subject who builds his knowledge, he emphasizes the consideration of the social, which contributes with the mediators, to transform reality and education. These mediators have a guiding role to assist them in the learning and development process.
In Piaget’s case, learning occurs individually. It is the conflict between what is new and what is known that leads the individual to seek balance.
2. The stages of development
Piaget’s theory treats cognitive development in universal stages. On the other hand, for Vigotsky there are no such stages since when building knowledge through social interaction, each culture is different and therefore cannot be generalized. Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
This means that, for Piaget, the potentiality of cognitive development depends on the stage in which the subject is. On the other hand, for Vygotsky, the potentiality of cognitive development depends on the quality of the interaction and on the subject‘s Zone of Proximate Development.
3. Role of learning Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky
Vygotsky thinks that development depends on learning and children learn through history and symbolism. Instead, Piaget thinks otherwise. That is, learning depends on development. Piaget claims that intelligence comes from action and does not attach much importance to external influences.
4. The role of language
Piaget states that egocentric speech manifests the inability to adopt the perspective of the other and, as it does not adapt to adult intelligence, egocentric speech disappears. For Vygotsky, egocentric speech helps children organize and regulate their thinking. Similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky