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Vygotsky's Theory of Cognitive Development

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Amanda Lane

on 21 November 2011

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Transcript of Vygotsky's Theory of Cognitive Development

Vygotsky's (1934) Theory of Cognitive Development
(Social Development Theory)

Vygotsky saw the importance of social interaction in cognitive development. Unlike Piaget's notion that childrens' development must necessarily precede their learning, Vygotsky argued, "learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organised, specifically human psychological function". In other words, social learning tends to precede (i.e. come before) development.
Babies are born with basic cognitive abilities (biological)
Higher mental functions
Problem solving abilities
Others (Experts)
Learned tasks
Unlearned tasks not within ability
Unlearned tasks within ability
Zone of Proximal Development
According to Vygotsky, important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor. The tutor may model behaviours and/or provide verbal instructions for the child. Vygotsky refers to this as cooperative or collaborative dialogue. The child seeks to understand the actions or instructions provided by the tutor (often the parent or teacher) then internalises the information, using it to guide or regulate their own performance.
The more knowledgeable other (MKO) is somewhat self-explanatory; it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.
This is an important concept that relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. For example, a child who could not solve a jigsaw puzzle by itself and would have taken a long time to do so (if at all), but is able to solve it following interaction with their parent, and will developed competence at this skill that will be applied to future jigsaws.
Vygotsky also views interaction with peers as an effective way of developing skills and strategies. He suggests that teachers use cooperative learning exercises where less competent children develop with help from more skillful peers - within the zone of proximal development.
Vygotsky sees the Zone of Proximal Development as the area where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given - allowing the child to develop skills they will then use on their own - developing higher mental functions.
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