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Piaget And Vygotsky: The Psychology Of Cognitive Development

1886 words - 8 pages

This essay concerns the psychology of cognitive development. Cognitive development can be explained in terms of the acquisition, construction and progressive change in thought processes such as memory, problem-solving and decision-making that occurs from childhood to adulthood (in Smith, P.K., Cowie, H & Blades, M. 2003). Major pioneers in this area and whose work has been the foundation of much research in cognitive psychology are among Jean Piaget’s (1926) and Lev Vygotksy’s (1978). A common understanding between the two rest on the idea that cognitive development in children occurs through stages, however, their approach in identifying these stages highly differ (in Smith P.K. et al., 2003).

Piaget’s account of cognitive development has been one of the many influential theories of time, receiving great recognition and popularity. According to Piaget children possess an innate capacity to learn human language and skills and are born with and acquire schemas (in Smith P.K. et al., 2003). Schemas are an internal representation of our surroundings which construct of a framework of cognitive processes that help us organise or interpret situations formal (in Passer, M., Smith, R., Holt, N., Bremner, A., Sutherland, E., & Vliek, M. 2009). Piaget proposed that cognitive development was restricted if schemas did not reach a threshold level (in Smith P.K. et al., 2003).

In addition, Piaget further theorised that children actively construct their own world as a means of understanding their environment. The more actively engaged a child is with their environment, the more they will learn (in Smith P.K. et al., 2003). Along with this, Piaget contended that children need to be psychologically mature in order to understand the world around them. Piaget explained children’s maturation process by initiating a four stage developmental process which he considered to be universal. They are; sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete and formal (in Passer, M. et al., 2009).
The sensorimotor occurs from birth up to two years old. Social interactions and the environment play a prominent role in the developing infant. The infant has the ability to form an understanding of reality and is successfully able to differentiate from itself and objects. The infant also achieves object permanence in which they realise that the existence of objects continues although it may not be visually presented to them (in Smith P.K. et al., 2003).

The pre-operational stage occurs between ages 2 to 4. The child is preoccupied with language and associating objects with certain images, symbols and words as the classification of objects is made easier this way. Since children are unable to conceptualize abstractly, Piaget explained this in terms of their egocentric thoughts, the idea that the child is seeing a world of its own thus having...

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