Compare & Contrast Piaget And Vygotsky Theory


Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky contributed reasonably to the field of education through their logic of children’s cognitive abilities and styles. This essay considers the similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky’s works, a necessity that contributes to learning and understanding of children’s cognitive abilities and stages.

Although they hold different perspectives on children’s cognitive development, their contributions assist educators in teaching and understanding children. While considering their theories, this essay will unveil the similarities and differences between Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s works.

Piaget provides 4 stages of cognitive development from infancy to adulthood: they are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. Age zero to two years is the first stage, where a child conceived the world through his/her senses and movement. By the latter part of the sensorimotor stage, a child develops object permanence. A child also develops the law of causation and effect: he recognizes that his action reacts to an object. At this stage, a child can reverse actions but s/he cannot reverse thinking.

Between ages two to seven, the preoperational stage kicks in. A child cannot think through his actions and s/he is egocentric. By this, they hold that others acknowledge and hold similar beliefs to them. At this, they engage in collective monologues which are void of interaction with other children. Also, a child acquires the skill of conservancy. S/he holds that the quantity of something remains equivalent even if its formation changes. This is because s/he hasn’t developed the ability to reverse thinking. That is, thinking things all over.

Concrete operations manifest between ages seven to eleven. According to Piaget, students in elementary years learn best through the use of visual and tangible objects. Students begin to reason through 3 basic skills identity, compensation, and seriation. This stage is characterized by identifying persons or things by their names; knowing that one action causes another (compensation); lastly, a child learns to arrange objects by certain physical patterns chronologically.

In the fourth stage, formal operations are set in between eleven to adulthood. At this stage, children have both inductive and deductive reasoning capacities. They utilize techniques to solve problems while maintaining their theoretical and complex thinking skills. While they do these, they possess the meta-cognitive ability too, an ability to think about thinking.

Through Piaget’s recommendations, teaching strategies developed include actions and verbal instructions in the preoperational stage. This is because a child hasn’t developed mental understanding, a teacher needs to demonstrate his/her instructions. The concrete stage teachings involve using hand-on learning which commenced in the first stage. With this, students are encouraged to conduct experiments and solve and decipher problems through their logical and analytical thinking skills.

Teachers deliver short instructions and concrete examples with more periods of practical rehearsals and learning. This improves the skills of identity, compensation, and seriation in concrete operational learning.

The formal operational stage of teaching involves the approval of opportunities for students’ scientific and problem-solving skills. Students should be given problems and explore solutions through hypothetical possibilities. Teachers can teach a broad context while relating it to their lives. This use of idealism is developed in the formal operational stage because the application of broad assumptions to their lives defends the realization of the latter ideal concepts.

Piaget suggests that a child’s environment influences his learning. Hence, social interaction aids to transcend egocentrism. Further, although children develop techniques that mentally people and things, these techniques can be altered through the process of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation involves what is already known while accommodation involves adding to what is already perceived.

However, Lev Vygotsky, another psychologist, offered an alternative to Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. His Sociocultural Theory of Development proposes that children act on their environment to learn. Through dialogues, social interaction to comprehend cultural virtues takes place. Vygotsky believes that human culture constructs cognition, a feature that is in every culture.

Although social communication tilts towards sentimental thinking, it involves the relations of persons by sharing day-to-day activities to solve problems. When a child receives help through social interaction, he employs better techniques to solve related problems in the future.

Vygotsky also inaugurated scaffolding as a sociocultural perspective to propel children to solve problems. Through scaffolding, students are provided with clues as a means to help them devise strategies to solve problems. While Piaget holds that students don’t have mental proficiency to solve problems, Vygotsky holds that encouragement and giving hints would assist them to solve a problem.

Language is also an important feature of his sociocultural theory. Of course, the language indicates the culture of a particular set of people. Language acquaints the child with his cognitive skill due to the inbuilt biases, rules, and restrictions embedded in a language.

Private speech is also associated with language development. This is a medium through which children use (Piaget’s acclaimed egocentric) self-talk which adults may use to guide their actions and aid their reasoning. A medium that Piaget expresses as immature. Vygotsky holds that self-directed speech becomes a regulator through communication with the self which is internalized after about nine years.

Vygotsky also emphasized the significance of cultural mechanisms such as language, the media, and books as important to learning and problem-solving. This level transcends to the higher level which embodies learning through psychological tools of language, symbols, and signs. After obtaining assistance through this stage, children incorporate the use of the cultural mechanisms into their lives; activities that aid problem-solving qualities in the future.

While Piaget endorsed discovery learning with minimal teacher intervention and more periods of practical rehearsals and learning, Vygotsky holds the guided discovery in the classroom. This involves asking students intriguing questions that could assist them to unearth opinions through testing hypotheses.

Further, they have similar theories on the matter of children’s ability to learn complex skills as they grow. They recognize the role of heredity and maturation of the brain and nature through which children meet the demand of their environment. Bith Piaget and Vygotsky agreed that children’s cognition is developed in sequence and some precise abilities emerge at certain stages.

However, while Piaget holds that children learn through self-discovery in practical sessions, Vygotsky holds that children learn through guidance and instructional discovery. Piaget holds that the advancement of cognition is universally the same while Vygotsky holds that it varies depending on cultures. While Piaget suggests that children learn when they are ready, Vygotsky states that learning can be accelerated through the use of the scaffolding method.

In addition to the above, Piaget believes that language is an outcome of developed cognition while Vygotsky believes that the key to cognition is language.

While they hold conflicting views, they have similar opinions which have proved useful in the teaching profession.


Comparing Piaget and Vygotsky from

Woolfolk, Anita. (2004). Educational Psychology. (9th ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

On the Definition of Learning edited by Ane Qvortrup, Merete Wiberg, Gerd Christensen & Mikala Hansbøl

Comparison between Piaget & Vygotsky from

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