Theoretical Models of Cognitive Development

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Compare and contrast the approaches of Piaget and Vygotsky. What aspects of their theories have best stood the test of time? Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget and Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky are two very important names when studying the models of cognitive development. Development can be defined as a “definite pattern of movement or change that begins at conception and continues through one’s life span”(Sisman, 2010). The major areas of development include biological, cognitive and social and emotional development. Both of these psychologists were concerned with the study of understanding the area of cognitive development specifically in children and were considered to be constructivists. Constructivism is the theory in which “learners actively construct their own knowledge based upon the things they know now and have known in the past” (TFL resources, 2006). This essay will seek to compare and contrast the theories of psychologists Piaget and Vygotsky and will critically look at their theories to judge which aspects are appropriate for the long term. Jean Piaget focused his research on studying children and observing their thought processes. With the use of observations, dialogues and small-scale experiments, Piaget argued that to achieve reason and logic children experienced stages of ‘intellectual development’ (Smith, Cowie & Blades, 2003, p.514). According to Passer, M., Smith, R., Holt, N., Bremner, A., Sutherland, E., & Vliek, M. (2009) the four stages of cognitive growth that Piaget founded were the sensorimotor stage (from birth to two years of age), the pre-operational stage (ages 2 to 7), the concrete operational stage (ages 7 to 12) and finally the formal operational stage (ages 12 onwards). In the first stage infants “understand the world through sensory and motor experiences” and learn of object permanence. Object permanence is
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