Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Vygotsky´s theory of cognitive development

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Vygotsky´s theory of cognitive development

Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development proposes that cognitive abilities such as learning and problem solving are developed through social interaction with others during childhood. According to Vygotsky, culture and environment play a large role in cognitive development. He believed social interactions with others help a child to learn and develop.

Vygotsky’s theory is made up of several components which explain cognitive development. These components are the zone of proximal development, inner speech, and scaffolding. Let’s explore them.

The zone of proximal development in Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development

According to Vygotsky, children should always be taught in the zone of proximal development.

Zone of proximal development: it’s when a child is able to solve some problems by themselves but might need extra guidance from a responsible person who can solve the problem.

Vygotsky theory of cognitive development zone of proximal development StudySmarterVygotsky's zone of proximal development, Wikimedia Commons.

The person helping the child to learn initially takes responsibility in helping them do so, but gradually shifts this responsibility over to the child. Once a child masters a task, the responsible adult can figure out the next zone of proximal development to continue to help the child learning.

If a child can’t master a task even with assistance from an adult, then the task is not yet within the child’s zone of proximal development, and the level of learning difficulty should be reduced. Not helping a child to learn, or helping too much can interfere with cognitive development.

A child being shown how to ride a bike without stabilisers with guidance from a responsible adult. The child may already have the developmental abilities to be able to ride a bike without stabilisers. However, to learn this skill they require social interaction and guidance.

Inner speech in Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development

Inner speech develops as beliefs and concepts are processed internally. According to the theory, children acquire knowledge from their environment, which teaches them how to think. Children are thought to develop inner speech and use this to help them to solve problems. Vygotsky also referred to this as internalisation. It is an important force in cognitive development. For those who have developed their inner speech, this is used on a regular daily basis to help solve problems, reason, and more.

A young child may speak their thoughts out loud but as they grow they are able to internalise their thoughts.

Scaffolding in Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development

Scaffolding was not a term originally proposed by Vygotksy, but by other theorists who expanded on his work. Scaffolding is the activities provided by the adult or teacher to help a child master a task in the zone of proximal development. As a person builds knowledge, internalises it, and confidence increases, the level of external support is gradually reduced.

Driving independently after passing your driving test and gradually no longer needing the presence of a driving instructor or another person to support you whilst driving.

Vygotsky died at the age of 38, so his theory remains incomplete.

Evaluation of Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development

Let’s study some of the weaknesses and strengths of Vygotsky’s theory.

Advantages

  • The theory has demonstrated the importance of social interaction in learning. This has had many practical implications on teaching. For example, schools put a focus on environmental factors such as peer relationships, group work, teacher attitudes, and classroom atmosphere.

  • Many psychologists in developmental psychology support Vygotsky’s theory and have applied it to their work. For example, A. Brown’s Community of learner's model (2018) demonstrates the importance of children and adults working together, involving adults facilitating learning through the scaffolding technique and children learning from each other.

  • The theory encourages parents, education systems, and children to reach their full potential. The theory can lead to increased levels of knowledge, development of cognition, thoughts, and behaviours.

  • Applying the theory to a child’s development may allow for the child to develop stronger friendships in childhood, building confidence, positive mental health, self-esteem, teamwork, and can lead to positive relationships in adult life.

Disadvantages

  • The theory doesn’t consider specific children developmental characteristics at different ages, but focuses more on the overall process of development during childhood. By contrast, Piaget strongly emphasises the different stages of development.

  • The theory does not expand upon the cognitive processes that occur during development.
  • Children learn and explore a lot on their own without assistance from others. Vygotsky may have overemphasised the social factors in his theory.

  • There may be limits on practicality on putting the theory into practise, particularly for teachers who are unable to facilitate friendships and group work in school due to behavioural issues from disruptive children. There may also be limits in school capacity, such as time, staff, and funding.

  • Concepts such as inner speech are difficult to measure.

Vygotsky Theory of Cognitive Development - Key takeaways

  • Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development proposes that learning and cognitive abilities are developed through social interaction with others during childhood.

  • The theory is made up of three key components: zone of proximal development, inner speech, and scaffolding.

  • The theory has several advantages and implications in society, as it could influence education, schools, and parenting.

  • The disadvantages of the theory are that it doesn’t describe specific stages of development as Piaget did, in some situations it may be difficult to put it into practice, and it is difficult to measure concepts such as inner speech.

Frequently Asked Questions about Vygotsky´s theory of cognitive development

Vygotsky’s theory proposed that cognitive development progresses and is influenced through social and cultural factors.

Piaget believed that cognitive development was self-taught while Vygotsky believed others like a teacher helped in development. Piaget’s theory had stages while Vygotsky’s had no stages but key factors.

Children learn and explore a lot on their own without assistance from others. Vygotsky may have overemphasised the social factors in his theory.

There are several advantages. Mainly, Vygotsky’s theory had numerous practical implications on teaching, such as schools putting a focus on environmental factors such as peer relationships, group work, teacher attitude, and classroom atmosphere. 

Final Vygotsky´s theory of cognitive development Quiz

Question

Which statement best describes the Zone of Proximal development?

Show answer

Answer

Needing extra guidance or support with a task from a person who can solve the problem.

Show question

Question

A child being shown how to ride a bike without stabilisers with guidance from a responsible adult is an example of the Zone of Proximal development.

Show answer

Answer

True. 

Show question

Question

As beliefs and concepts are processed internally, inner speech develops.

Show answer

Answer

True. 

Show question

Question

Which statement best defines the concept of scaffolding?




Show answer

Answer

Proactively learning new information relating to information which is already known. New information adds to the information already known. 

Show question

Question

At what age did Vygotsky die?


Show answer

Answer

38

Show question

Question

What is the difference between Piaget’s and Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development?




Show answer

Answer

Piaget's theory believes in the importance of self-discovery with learning. Vygotsky, on the other hand, believes in the importance of learning through a teacher. 

Show question

Question

Vygotsky’s theory has been valuable for education systems. 

Show answer

Answer

True. 

Show question

Question

Applying the theory to a child's development may allow for the child to:


Show answer

Answer

Both.

 

Show question

Question

The zone of proximal development has been criticised for explaining with too much detail and assumptions how development occurs. 


Show answer

Answer

 False. 

Show question

Question

The theory doesn't consider specific children's developmental characteristics at different ages, but focuses more on the overall process of development during childhood. 


Show answer

Answer

True. 

Show question

Question

Inner speech can also be referred to as:


Show answer

Answer

Internalisation.

Show question

Question

Which limitation of Vugotsky’s theory is correct?


Show answer

Answer

All of the above.

Show question

Question

Not helping a child to learn or helping too much during a task that a child understands can interfere with cognitive development. 


Show answer

Answer

True. 

Show question

Question

Brown's Community of learner's model (2018) demonstrates the importance of children and adults working together. This contrasts and does not support Vygotsky’s theory. 


Show answer

Answer

False. 

Show question

Question

The theory outlines four stages of development across different age ranges. 


Show answer

Answer

False. 

Show question

More about Vygotsky´s theory of cognitive development
60%

of the users don't pass the Vygotsky´s theory of cognitive development quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.