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Piaget and Vygotsky - Applications in Education

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Sarah C

on 16 January 2012

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Transcript of Piaget and Vygotsky - Applications in Education



1. What can children learn?
What a child can learn depends on their current stage of cognitive development.

They can only deal with operations they have already mastered.

Learning cannot be accelerated
Piaget's idea of "readiness"
However, research does not support this view.

For example,
Brainerd (1983)
found that pre-schoolers can perform well on concrete operational tasks when provided with training.

suggests that learning can be accelerated
(which supports Vygotsky's view!)
Piaget's theory has been applied to education in three main ways:
Piaget's Approach
Vygotsky's theory can also be applied to education:
Vygotsky's Approach

1. What can children learn?

2. How should we teach children?
Children should learn by
active self discovery
. (Piaget's view of the "child as a scientist"!)

Teachers can encourage self discovery by creating a
state of
(e.g. by asking difficult questions).

Brainerd (1983)
reviewed studies of self-discovery learning and found it to be less effective than tutorial learning (where teachers provide knowledge to relatively passive children).

2. How should we teach children?
Piaget's notion of disequilibrium has been developed to include
socio-cognitive conflict
which occurs when exposed to others' differing views.

Ames and Murray (1982)
support the importance of such conflict in learning.

3. What should we teach children?
Piaget's theory claims cognitive development depends on learning
or cognitive structures, most of which are based on mathematical or logic principles. Therefore, learning material should
not be too complex
or too far removed from the child's existing schemas.

However, this approach has
limited value
since it applies to
only a few subjects
taught at school (with no relevance to subjects such as history or foreign languages)


Piaget's ideas have
influenced educational practice
in several countires, but it has been of
limited value

There is a lot of research evidence suggesting that Piaget underestimated the cognitive abilities of children.

(Compare Piaget's approach to Vygotsky's approach and the nativist approach etc).
Children learn best in a
social context
through scaffolding.

Therefore, teachers need to reduce their control over the learning when the child is being successful, or increase control when errors are made.

1. Scaffolding
This notion is supported by
Wood and Middleton
(1975) - children's understanding is supported by adults in various ways (e.g. demonstration, pointing, verbal instruction, encouragement etc)
However, scaffolding may not be effective if there is too much status difference between the tutor and learner, or if the tutor and learner agree that the task is not worth doing properly.

1. Scaffolding
This is based on the concept of the

Peer tutoring
is where children who are slightly older and more advanced teach slightly younger children. (The use of a
more knowledgable peer

Peer tutoring is increasingly popular in schools, and has generally been shown to be effective in various cultures.

2. Peer Tutoring
Group work.

A small group of children collaborating on their work has been shown to be effective in some situations, although conflict (as proposed by Piaget) is sometimes more useful.

3. Collaboration

4. Learning through
Through play, children learn specific aspects of their culture (e.g. pretending to be a firefighter or doctor)
Durking (1995)
found that this approach may be more suitable for some tasks (e.g. construction) than for others (e.g. conceptual learning).

Vygotsky's approach suggests that
learning can be accelerated
(with the use of scaffoling, peer tutoring, support, etc), which
constrasts with Piaget's view


Note! - You could possibly be asked to "discuss applications of theories of cognitive devleopment", in which case use this as an essay plan.

But also, you could use any of these points as evaluation in a general essay on Piaget and/or Vygotsky.
Full transcript