Cognitive development

Cognitive development is a type of cognitive psychological thought that refers to the changes and stability in mental abilities, such as learning, attention, memory, language, thinking, reasoning, and creativity. It is a branch of psychology that majorly deals with all the processes and changes that occur in mental skills and abilities of children over specified periods of time. Even though many psychology scholars are familiar with the process of cognitive development, they are unable to refute the compelling ideological differences between Lev Vygotsky’s and Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development in infants (Papalia, Olds, & Feldma, 2007). This is a reflective paper on how interesting the theoretical conflicts were to me.

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was organized into two distinct parts including (1) The processes children use as they construct their knowledge of the world and (2) The four stages of (these stages majorly described how people’s intelligence transform as they mature) cognitive development which largely differed with Lev’s cognitive theories as follows.

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According to Piaget, cognitive growth basically occurs through three interconnected processes namely; organization, adaptation, and equilibration. It was interesting to further describe these processes in detail to grasp the psychological views of Jean Piaget and be able to fully appreciate his model of cognitive development (Fetsco&McClure, 2005). Through the organization, it was interesting to learn that the grouping and combining of various childhood experiences provide children with new and more advanced ways to understand their environments for instance when a child saw both a cat and a dog at home, they quickly established that they were human-friendly (pets).

The process of equilibrium

The developing child, therefore, had to adapt to always seeing the pets around her/him. However, it was evident that the daunting cognitive development process according to Piaget was the process of equilibrium, where the developing child had to reach only after assimilating and accommodating their ever-strange schemes in order to maximally understand their “new” world and its environs. The whole process became much complicated for the infants especially, when Piaget summarized his model with equilibration (the process of movement from equilibrium to disequilib­rium and back to equilibrium again by the kids) enhance their progression toward increasingly complex thoughts(Eggen&Kauchak, 2007).

On the contrary, it was interesting to learn Lev Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development in children and realize the conflicting ideologies between the two elaborate Psychological theories(Papalia, Olds, &Feldma, 2007). Even though his theory was marred with many assumptions, it was pleasing to learn that Vygotsky’s theory was built on the principle that culture is the prime determinant of cognitive development and that the children’s learning experiences lead to their cognitive development.

Vygotsky’s theory on cognitive development

Lev Vygotsky’s theory was fashioned with a common belief that an individual’s development would be incomprehensible without reference to the social and cultural context within which such development is rooted. Unlike Piaget or Bruner, Vygotsky focused on the mechanism of the development, excluding distinguishable developmental stages (Lahey, 2004). However, it was interesting to come to terms with his Scaffolding theory he used to explain that cognitive development in zones of proximal development stresses the role of a social partner of the student (a teacher or a more skilled peer or friend).

In the Scaffolding principle, I learnt that the instructor becomes a supportive tool for the children and students in the zone of proximal development. He adds that the characteristics of an ideal teacher are similar to those of a scaffold which: (1) Provides support (2) Functions as a tool (3) Extends the range of the worker (4) Allows to the learner to accomplish a task that was otherwise impossible.

This implies that In Vygotsky’s view; learning and cognitive development are interactive, interpersonal activities where both: Instructor and learners co-construct the solution to a problem unequally amongst themselves based on their respective levels of understanding(Santrock, 2008). Basically, it was evident that this psychological mechanism aims at creating external activities that will be later internalized by developing child or the learning student to boost their mental development.


Eggen, P., &Kauchak, D., Educational psychology windows on classrooms, (7th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2007. Print.

Fetsco, T., & McClure, J., Educational psychology an integrated approach to classroom decisions. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 2005. Print.

Lahey, B. B., Psychology: an introduction,(8th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill. 2004. Print.

Papalia, D. E., Olds, S. W., &Feldma R. D., Human development. (10th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill. 2007. Print.

Santrock, J. W.,Educational psychology,(3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. 2008. Print.

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