Showing posts with label Educational Psychology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Educational Psychology. Show all posts


Like Piaget, the Russian Lev Vygotsky (18961934) also believed that children actively construct their knowledge. Vygotsky was born in Russia in the same year as Piagetwas born, but he died much younger than Piaget did, at the age of thirty-seven. Both Piaget'sand Vygotsky's ideas remained virtually unknown to American scholars for many years,being introduced to American audiences through English translations in the 1960s. In the las─▒several decades, American psychologists and educators have shown increased interest inVygotsky's views

Vygotsky's Assumptions:

Three claims capture the heart of Vygotsky's view:

1" Assumption: For Vygotsky, taking a developmental approach means understanding thechild's cognitive functioning by examining its origins and transformations from earlier to later forms. Thus, a particular mental act such as using inner speech cannot be viewed accurately in isolation but should be evaluated as a step in a gradual developmental process.

2nd Assumption: Vygotsky's second claim, that to understand cognitive functioning it is necessary to examine the tools that mediate and shape it, led him to believe that language is the most important of these tools. Vygotsky argued that in early childhood, language begins to be used as a tool that helps the child plan activities and solve problems.

3rd Assumption: Vygotsky's third claim was that cognitive skills originate in social relations and culture. Vygotsky's portrayed the child's development as inseparable from social and cultural activities. He believed that the development of memory, attention, and reasoning involves learning to use the inventions of society, such as language, mathematical systems, and memory strategies. In one culture this could consist of carning to count with the help of a computer, inanother it could consist of counting on one's ┼┐ingers or using beads.

Vygotsky's theory has stimulated considerable interest in the view that knowledge is situated and collaborative.

Within these basic claims, Vygotsky articulated unique and influential ideas about the relation between learning and development. These ideas especially reflect his view that cognitive functioning has social origins. One of Vygotsky's unique ideas was his concept to the zone of proximal development

Zone of proximal development (ZPD) is Vygotsky's term for the range of tasks that are too difficult for children to master alone but that can be learned with guidance and assistance from adults or more skilled children. Thus, the lower limit of the ZPD is the level of problem solving reached by the child working independently. The upper limit is the level of additionalresponsibility the child can accept with the assistance of an able instructor. Vygotsky's emphasis on the ZPD underscores his belief in the importance of social influences, especially instruction, on children's cognitive development.

Scaffolding: Closely linked to the idea of zone of proxin development is the concept of scaffolding, a technique of changing the level of support. Over the course of a teaching session, a more-skilled person (teacher or more-advanced peer of the child) adjusts the amount of guidance to fit the student's current performance level. When the task the student is learning is new, the more-skilled person might use direct instruction. As the student's competence increases, less guidance is given. 

Dialogue is an important tool of scaffolding in the zone of proximal development. Vygotsky viewed children as having rich but unsystematic, disorganized, and spontaneous concepts. These meet with the skilled helper's more systematic, logical, and rational concepts. As a result of the meeting and dialogue between the child and the skilled helper, the child's concepts become more systematic, logical, and rational.

Language and Thought: Vygotsky (1962) believed that young children use languagenot only for social communication but also to plan, guide, and monitor their behavior in a self-regulatory fashion. The use of language for self-regulation is called inner speech or private speech, for Piaget, private speech was egocentric and immature, but for Vygotsky it was animportant tool of thought during the early childhood years.

Vygotsky's view challenged Piaget's ideas on language and thought. Vygotsky said that language, even in its earliest forms, is socially based, whereas Piaget emphasized young children's egocentric and nonsocial speech. For Vygotsky, when young children talk to themselves they are using language to govern their behavior and guide themselves, whereas's view of the positive role of private speech in children's development.