Lev Vygotsky's Theory On Cognitive Development

1265 words - 5 pages

Lev Vygotsky was a Russian developmentalist who believed that adults in all societies “foster children’s cognitive development in an intentional and somewhat systematic manner” (Ormrod, 2011, pg.39). Vygotsky sociocultural theory focused on what a child could do merely with an adult’s assistance. Nature is the emphasis of this theory highlighting children’s cultural and social environmental experiences that influence cognitive growth. Two main terms that are of uttermost importance in this principle are a child’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding (Ormrod, 2011, pg.39). Zone of proximal development will first be defined and explained to better understand and comprehend what is entailed within this popular method of teaching and child development.
First the Zone of proximal development can be established as a child’s learning and problem solving skills that are currently in the process of evolving. The ZPD is a key source to use when choosing a task for a child to complete. It is important to determine whether the task is too easy or too hard. The ZPD can aide with the decision an adult or instructor makes when selecting tasks specific children need to complete to help them reach their full cognitive potential. Identifying a child’s ZPD must be done to give the educator an idea of what is appropriate or the student to be working on or with (Ormrod, 2011, pg.41).
To establish the ZPD an instructor needs to look at the child’s actual development level by testing them or being knowledgeable of what a student can already complete without any adult assistance. The ZPD then can be acknowledged as tasks that a child cannot undertake without the assistance and full support from an adult (Ormrod, 2011, pg.41). ZPD tasks need to be selected in a realistic manner in order to be beneficial (Ormrod, 2011, pg.42). By using thee ZPD as a guide this gives the child an opportunity to work towards their level of potential development which is tasks they are unable to achieve with substantial adult assistance. These can more positively be viewed as future goals. To summarize, it is the challenges in life, rather than the simple victories that stimulate cognitive development (Ormrod, 2011, pg.41). Introduction of the second key concept is scaffolding.
According to Jeanne E. Ormrod’s book Educational Psychology Developing Learners, scaffolding can be better understood by describing two contexts that scaffolding can be inserted. The first would be a structure to where construction workers can stand until a building is sturdy enough to embrace their weight (Ormrod, 2011, pg. 45). The second meaning or contextual use defined by About.com author Beth Lewis: “Scaffolding refers to the idea that specialized instructional supports need to be in place in order to best facilitate learning when students are first introduced to a new subject” (Lewis, 2013). The key word in scaffolding is support. Support is given until the...

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