Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development

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Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget largely contributed to developmental psychology and education, notably exploring children’s learning styles and mental abilities. While Piaget’s theory of cognitive development postulates that children develop by interacting with their environment, Vygotsky’s approach focuses on the social and cultural aspects of a child’s life (Woolfolk, 2016). Both theories have a broad application in education, notably that of young children from birth to early school years.

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Lev S. Vygotsky was a Soviet psychologist who, among other scientific contributions, established the branch of cultural-historical psychology. Working during the times of intense social upheaval of the Russian Revolution, Vygotsky was initially tasked to develop a state-wide education system for “pedagogically neglected students,” such as the homeless and the disabled. (as cited in Goswami, 2010, p. 674). His texts became widespread in the West only in the 1970s (Goswami, 2010). Vygotsky’s theories stress the importance of social interaction and culture in the development of higher mental processes (Woolfolk, 2016). His research has had a considerable influence on the development of the sociocultural theory, which postulates that cultural artifacts, such as speech, profoundly affect early learning and development (Goswami, 2010). Vygotsky’s main theoretical claim was that social, cultural, and historical factors realize cognitive development through mediation.

Working in the mid-twentieth century, Jean Piaget was a Swiss constructivist psychologist whose scientific contributions are considered to be the first major theory of cognitive development. Prompting a vast body of research on children’s higher mental faculties, Piaget’s works are now inherent in the study of cognitive development (Goswami, 2010). One of Piaget’s most influential theories was the belief that one’s cognition gradually changes as one matures (Woolfolk, 2016). Piaget hypothesized that child cognition developed in four primary stages, always in the same order: sensorimotor (from birth to two years), preoperational (from 2 to 7 years old), concrete operational (from 7 to 11 years old), and formal operational (from adolescence to adulthood) (Woolfolk, 2016). Essentially, according to Piaget, continuous transformation of thought processes drives cognitive development.

Both Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theories have a wide application in analyzing how quantitative, or mathematical, thinking develops in younger children, ages 0-7. Using Piaget’s framework, the development of young children falls into the sensorimotor and preoperational stages. It is believed that in the first sensorimotor stage, children already understand the concept of numbers and have an ability to link numbers to objects, thus making counting activities most appropriate exercises (Ojose, 2008). During the preoperational period, which is characterized by a growth in language ability, children should work on problem-solving tasks with physical objects and characterize their actions (Ojose, 2008). The Vygotskian understanding partially supports this notion because it heavily relies on using a child’s speech, immediate surroundings, and activities (Walshaw, 2017). Overall, the combination of the two theories should offer a valuable tool in understanding and enhancing young children’s mathematical knowledge.

Due to a vast amount of empirical data, it can be claimed that both theories have their merits and limitations when applied for planning course instruction. Overall, I believe Lev Vygotsky’s and Jean Piaget’s respective contributions have significantly impacted cognitive developmental psychology and education. Still, their usage in the classroom should be assessed on a case-to-case basis. Nonetheless, I personally feel that adapting the theoretical aspect of their research would yield benefits in teaching younger kids mathematics and science.

References

Goswami, U. (Ed.). (2010). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development (2nd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.

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Ojose, B. (2008). Applying Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to mathematics instruction. The Mathematics Educator, 18(1), 26-30.

Walshaw, M. (2017). Understanding mathematical development through Vygotsky. Research in Mathematics Education, 19(3), 293–309. Web.

Woolfolk, A. (2016). Educational psychology, global edition (13th ed.). Pearson Education

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, September 1). Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/piagets-and-vygotskys-theories-in-childhood-quantitative-cognitive-development/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, September 1). Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development. https://psychologywriting.com/piagets-and-vygotskys-theories-in-childhood-quantitative-cognitive-development/

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"Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development." PsychologyWriting, 1 Sept. 2022, psychologywriting.com/piagets-and-vygotskys-theories-in-childhood-quantitative-cognitive-development/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development'. 1 September.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development." September 1, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/piagets-and-vygotskys-theories-in-childhood-quantitative-cognitive-development/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development." September 1, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/piagets-and-vygotskys-theories-in-childhood-quantitative-cognitive-development/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s Theories in Childhood Quantitative Cognitive Development." September 1, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/piagets-and-vygotskys-theories-in-childhood-quantitative-cognitive-development/.