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Differences Between Piaget & Vygotsky's Cognitive Development Theories

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Piaget linked his biology background to his new interest in understanding how knowledge develops, thereby spending his life perfecting his theory of cognitive development. He, therefore, used some of the concepts from Biology to explain how knowledge advances. Piaget’ s theory is often described by many as a constructivist view where people interpret their experiences and environments using the understanding and skill that they already have developed from similar past experiences (cognitive structures). According to him, people build or “ construct” unique and individualized understanding and knowledge of an event or object. For the development of such knowledge to take place, Piaget introduced a concept of the scheme.

A scheme is defined as organized patterns of both physical and mental actions (Kleinman, 2013). Illustrations of the scheme concept include a baby reaching for an object (physical action) or a student thinking about how to answer an exam question (mental action). Piaget proposed four main stages in cognitive development: Sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational stages. The sensorimotor stage also referred to as infancy, lies in the age range of between birth and two years.

During this age, the baby can understand the world by relating the sensory experiences with other physical activities. The children are thus likely to learn by using their five common senses. The pre-operational stage spans between ages two to seven years. During this stage, children begin to complete one-step operations and logic and also develop a language. The third stage known as the concrete operation stage runs between ages of seven to 12 years. Children are now able to reason logically in regards to concrete events and also can classify objects.

The last stage referred to as formal operation stage occurs from age twelve to adulthood. In this stage, the adolescents can reason in more logically (Kleinman, 2013).

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