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Sociocultural theory is a framework that is mostly associated to Lev Vygotsky, and not to Jean Piaget. Think of Piaget as the first social scientist that ever questioned modality in thinking and learning. Thanks to the studies conducted by Piaget we are able to differentiate the instruction of children by developmental level. Moreover, it was Piaget who first suggested that thinking and learning are done individually and within the parameters of the individual's personality traits. Taken from another point of view, if Piaget had never made the observations on children's responses while studying psychometrics at the Binet institute, we would still be assuming that all individuals think linearly, collectively, and universally the same.
If we extract the first of Piaget's cognitive theory we would be left with a very simple statement: all individuals experience individual cognitive changes that preclude the need to attend individual learning needs. This is done through three processes:
1. building schema- establishing knowledge based on previous experiences
2. assimilating, accommodating and building equilibrium in order to process information
3. attend to developmental stages: sensorimotor (0-18months), pre operational (1-3) concrete operational,(4-10) formal operational (11 years old and on).
Sociocultural theories are mainly attributed to Lev Vygotsky, another social psychologist whose main work was in the area of influences upon the individual: parents, teachers, and peers. In his sociocultural theory, Vygotsky stated that in order to learn new things, and acquire information, there had to be interaction. Some individuals are more knowledgeable than others (MKO), and they influence individuals by bringing them to their next zone up when it comes to cognition. This is known as the ZPD, or Zone of Proximal Development. The theory is that the more you become exposed to the different levels of knowledge of others, their experience and skills will be passed on to you through interaction. This is true of second language acquisition, and learning new skills. Hence, the more quality of exposure the better opportunities for learning. In Vygotsky's own words:
Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals.
In not so many words, "culture" would be the combination of factors that make up the patterns of behavior that are transmitted to us through interaction and traditional application. The fact that these factors and patterns of behavior are necessarily transmitted through interacting with others is what constititutes the social aspect of the theory.
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