You are on page 1of 1

Discuss Ormrods (2011) statement that Vygotskys theory leads us to expect greater diversity among children, at least

in cognitive development, than Piagets theory does. (p.43).

The development theories of Piaget and Vygotsky both encompass similar aspects, whilst also containing noticeable
differences. Piagets theory is highly dependent on biological age, whereas Vygotskys theory acknowledges the
external influences on development, thus leading us to expect greater diversity among children. (Ormrod 2011)
Although these differences exist, both theories are very valuable to an educators knowledge of childrens cognitive

Ormrod (2011) states that Piagets theory encompasses a hierarchy of four stages, proposed as a result of brain
maturation, innumerable environmental experiences and a childrens natural desire to make sense of and adapt to their
world. This hierarchy consists of the Sensorimotor stage, evident from birth to two years old, the Preoperational stage,
emerging at age two, the Concrete Operations stage, evident at about six to seven years, and finally the Formal
Operations stage, emerging at around eleven and twelve years old.
Piagets theory is also known as the constructivist theory (Ormrod, 2011), as he infers that children are active and
motivated learners, who construct rather than absorb knowledge. McInerney (1998) suggests that Piaget utilised
structuralism and related it to cognitive growth. Piagets theory is highly conditional of biological age, as he infers that
childrens abilities and cognitive skills are determinant on the stage of life they are at.
Piaget highlights the suggestion that children internalise their experiences, using assimilation and accommodation to
create and adapt to new schemes. As children become older and move up on the hierarchy of stages, the more
schemes they acquire as connections created from assimilation and accommodation become more complex. The
relationship between age and abilities, although believable doesnt leave room for individuality, making it seem as
though every child develops at the same rate, as though uniqueness isnt expected. Another theorist, Vygotsky,
accommodates for uniqueness in his research, considering cultural stimuli that influences development.
Vygotsky acknowledges the connection between age and abilities but also accepts that there are external factors that
influence cognitive development. His theory suggests that children have different zones of proximal development, in
which adult support and encouragement is greatly valued Tasks that are quite easy for some children may be virtually
impossible for others. (Ormrod, 2011) But with adult help, children may be able to attempt, and complete tasks that
were previously out of reach. Vygotsky also noted that specific cultural backgrounds offer different concepts, ideas and
beliefs; therefore children will acquire different knowledge, skills and ways of thinking, as Ormrod (2011) states.
Piaget and Vygotskys theories both offer valuable insight into cognitive development. Though they are unique in their
own way, they also present some of the same ideas and concepts that we, as educators need to consider. Piagets
theory is neither completely right, nor wrong, as is Vygotskys, but Vygotskys does lead us to expect greater diversity
among children, at least in cognitive development, than Piagets theory does. (Ormrod, 2011 p.43)
Word Count: 472

McInerney, D.M. and McInerney, V (1998) Educational Psychology: Constructed Learning Second Edition. Australia:
Prentice Hall.
Ormrod (2011) Cognitive and Linguistic Development, Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, 7
Edition Boston:
Person Education Inc. (Allyn and Beacon) pp. 18 58)