Piaget vs Vygotsky

Compare and contrast Piaget and Vygotsky’s theory and implications for teaching and learning


Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology – Implications for teaching and learning:

  • Heirarchal stages
  • Stages develop on their own
  • Maturation + experience
  • Child is more independent
  • How learner interacts with environment
  • Active learning, assimilation, accommodation
  • Interaction with physical and social environments is key
  • Children learn independently
  • Self source of cognition
  • Believes that OBJECTS and our interactions with them shape our internal selves


Vygotsky’s Social Formation of the Mind – Implications for teaching and learning:

  • Non hierarchal
  • Doesn’t depend on time
  • Cultural/historical
  • Focused on cultural and social interactions
  • Child is a social being
  • Speech – development through formal ind informal conversations
  • Stages are socially dependent (aided through social interactions)
  • When teachers support students as they learn scaffolding takes place
  • Complex mental activities begin as basic social activities
  • Challenging tasks promote  ignition development
  • Play is important
  • Source of cognition comes from social environment
  • Believes that social relationships (more than objects) develop our self


How they differ:

Piaget – development then learning
Vygotsky – learning then development
Piaget – maturation influences and drives development
Vygotsky – development driven by child’s enjoyment from learning and being around others
Piaget – children learn independently, source of cognition comes from selves
Vygotsky – source of cognition comes from social environment (interaction w papers adults)
Piaget – development precedes language
Viagotsky – language precedes development
Piaget – egocentric speech is for self centered purposes as they can’t yet consider viewpoints of others
Viagotsky – egocentric speech – attempt at internalized private speech in social context


How they agree:

Children are actively involved in cognitive development
Cognitive development declines with age
Conflict initiates growth and development child sees conflict in thought and actively seeks out solution to ‘align’ thinking
Egocentric speech is important


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