The Developmental Theories and their Influence on Studies

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Child Growth and the Learning Process

Aside from exposure levels, the process of child growth and the knowledge that he or she gets is fully dependent on the methods used in the learning practice. Different theorists developed explanations for the essentials of the learning process and presented information about what happens during knowledge acquisition. However, depending on the characteristics that each theory emphasizes, each has strengths and faults, resulting in criticism from a variety of perspectives. According to Newman and Holzman (1993), it is appropriate to see Vygotsky as having made a greater contribution to growth and development studies than Piaget, Freud, and B.F. Skinner. Firstly, Vygotsky theory looks at the most defining elements of cognitive development that entail culture and social interactions. As highly omitted in other theories, it is a great assumption to overlook the contribution of culture to knowledge acquisition at any different point. For instance, each culture has activities, taboos, morals as well as behaviors that it promotes or condemns and significantly affects how a child grows to adulthood. On the same case, Vygotsky has the assumption that as children interact and converse with the adults, they learn through informal and formal means and it adds up to the knowledge that they possess (Mischel, 2013).

The Role of Interaction in Child Growth

Apart from the role of culture, Vygotsky sensitizes on the elemental contribution of interaction regardless of the person that a child contacts. For instance, as one of the underlying assumptions in his theory, play is a significant element that ensures the child can stretch themselves cognitively and as they learn to get help from exceptional individuals, they learn to perform complex tasks as years and levels advance (Mischel, 2013). Regarding that, Vygotsky proposed that the best teaching procedure is the one that promotes independent and individualized thinking and as such the best approach to learning is guided discovery. In such a case, the teacher could only trigger the children's into discovery learning through little assistance hence giving them the greatest opportunity to learn concepts on their own (Woolfolk, 2004).

Comparison with Piaget's Theory

Vygotsky method contrasts Piaget's principle significantly as it involves more activities in the learning process; therefore, a way to help children become more active and better. In his case, Piaget's main observation is that children develop into adults through four main stages that encompass the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations as well as the formal operations level (Preston, 2012). He also believed that each stage leads to the other and a child cannot acquire the skills on a higher level without going completely through the essentials of the previous level (Crain, 2011). However, which is a different observation with Vygotskian principles, Piaget only believed that children must learn with teachers' assistance and children's capacities could only reach a certain level. In contrast, Vygotsky showed that if a child receives proper assistance, he/she is capable of performing tasks that Piaget considered to be beyond his/her mental capabilities (Crain, 2015).

Criticism of Freud and Skinner's Theories

Sigmund Freud, on the other hand, is the proponent of the psychosexual theory that posits that personality consists of three essential parts that work together and includes the id, the ego, as well as the superego. In development, the stages include the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and the last one is the genital stage (Crain, 2015). However, and as a part of criticism, Freud did not work with children as his theory involved troubled adults, which is a significant shortcoming. Moreover, which is not the case with Vygotsky, he focused too much on human sexuality and male perspective which as well failed to detail on the exact ways to make a child better in class.

Apart from Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner is also another theorist who played an essential role in detailing the learning process. His main observation was behavior conditioning since rewards positively reinforce behavior, and if punished it is shunned which translates to negative reinforcement (Crain, 2011). Although it stands out to be one of the most influential theories about growth, it also omits the significant contribution of culture, social interactions, language, and private speech as Vygotsky observes. Regarding that, it is justified to conclude that Vygotsky theory is more detailed hence the reason to regard him above others.


Crain, W. (2011). Theories of development: Concepts and applications(6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Crain, W. (2015). Theories of development: Concepts and applications. Psychology Press.

Mischel, T. (Ed.). (2013). Cognitive development and epistemology. Academic Press.

Newman, F., & Holzman, L.(1993). Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary scientist. London: Routledge.

Preston, P. (2012). Theories of development. Routledge.

Woolfolk, A. (2004). Educational Psychology. (9th ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

April 19, 2023

Psychology Education

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