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Discuss, Compare and Contrast Piaget and Vygotsky’s Learning Theories.

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DISCUSS, COMPARE AND CONTRAST PIAGET AND VYGOTSKY'S LEARNING THEORIES Many psychologists were not happy with behaviourism. There was a belief among some that there was too much focus on single events, stimuli, and overt behaviour. This school faced great criticisms, which eventually lead to the development of the Cognitive theory. Most Cognitive theorists now portray learning more as constructing knowledge from the information one receives, rather than directly receiving that information from the outside world. Constructivism is the label given to such a view, which falls somewhere between cognitive and humanistic views. It suggests that the learner is much more actively involved in a joint enterprise with the teacher in creating new meanings. The learner as an active participant in the learning process has been emphasised in such terms as selective attention, processor of information, learning as a generative process, reconstruction in memory, and active retrieval. The following are some of the principles of constructivism: 1. Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning. 2. Meaning requires understanding wholes as well as parts. Parts must be understood in the context of wholes. Therefore, the learning process focuses on primary concepts, not isolated facts. 3. In order to teach well, we must understand the mental models that students used to perceive the world and the assumptions they make to support those models. 4. The purpose of learning is for the individual to construct his or her meaning, not just memorise the "right" answers. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way of measuring learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with the information on the quality of their learning. It all started with Gestalt theorists (Kohler and Koffka). For them, perceptions or images should be approached as a pattern or a whole, rather than as a sum of the component parts. ...read more.


3. Reciprocal Teaching: Reciprocal teaching, another area of application, involves an interactive dialogue between a teacher and a small group of students. These dialogues create a zone of proximal development in which reading comprehension improves. From a Vygotskian view, reciprocal teaching stresses social interaction and scaffolding as students gradually develop skills. COMPARING AND CONTRASTING PIAGET'S AND VYGOTSKY'S LEARNING THEORIES As we have just discussed above, Piaget and Vygotsky each have their own important concepts. Their theories share a number of aspects, however they also differ in others. Piaget approached cognitive development from a biological, nature perspective, whereas Vygotsky approached the subject from an environmental, nurture perspective. This leads to major differences in their theories regarding the way in which we learn and the importance of certain aspects. Piaget's theory focuses on the organisation of intelligence and how it changes as children grow, whereas Vygotsky's theory centres on the social processes, and he defines intelligence as the capacity to learn from instruction. Below we will delve deeper and look into the similarities and differences of Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories and compare and contrast them. * THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ONTOLOGY AND EPISTOMOLOGY FOR PIAGET AND VYGOTSKY'S WORK When discussing theories about learning, one basically operates with three levels: 1) Ontology (the nature of reality), 2) Epistemology (the nature of knowledge), and 3) the "learning theory" (how one learns). For Piaget, constructivism claims that we always and only learn through constructing. Piaget doesn't separate the level of epistemology from the level of learning theory in his work. What he says is that knowledge does not exist before hand in the external world; but he does not say that the external world does not exist independently of man. On the contrary, for Vygotsky, external reality must exist as we must assume that it is in reality that other human beings (through which we socially interact) reside. Since learning in Vygotsky's view is the transmission of knowledge, one could argue that knowledge must be "somewhere" outside the individual before the individual has learnt it and thus there is something that exists independently of an individual's construction of it. ...read more.


Learner control is an idea found in virtually every resource that discusses constructivism. In constructivism, learners establish objectives that reflect their specific interests and needs. For the constructivist, the notion of ownership must expand to allow different learners to solve the problems in their own ways. * LEARNING TAKES PLACE THROUGH SOCIAL NEGOTIATION Constructivism embraces a holistic view of learning. One aspect of this belief is the need for social negotiation. Through interactions with other learners, constructivists believe that synergism results, benefiting the whole group. Social negotiation also forces learners to attempt to see the perspectives of other learners, and forces them to either accommodate those perspectives into their construction or understanding * LEARNERS MUST EXAMINE MATERIAL FROM MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES For more holistic understandings of material to occur, learners must revisit the content on several occasions in different contexts to gain a more holistic understanding and avoid insufficient or faulty understandings. * LEARNERS MUST REFLECT ON BOTH WHAT WAS LEARNED AND THE LEARNING PROCESS The ability to reflect on one's learning is critical in the constructivist approach, because it allows the learner to understand the strategies he or she employs. Beyond this reflection process, the learner must also be allowed to reflect on the new cognitive structure. * IN A CONSTRUCTIVIST CLASSROOM The following are characteristics of a classroom in which constructivism is practised: 1. Student autonomy and initiative are accepted and encouraged. 2. The teacher asks open-ended questions and allows wait time for responses. 3. Higher level thinking is encouraged. 4. Students are engaged in dialogue with the teacher and with each other. 5. Students are engaged in experiences that challenge hypothesis and encourage discussion. 6. The class uses raw data, primary sources, manipulatives, physical, and interactive materials. As we have discussed all throughout, Piaget and Vygotsky have touched on various topics, and have left a great influence on everyday life, especially on the field of education. Despite the fact that their theories were constructed many years back, they are still influential today, and we are sure that their theories will not be forgotten for many years to come. ...read more.

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