Lev Vygotsky

By: Clair Mulvihill

Basic Theory Explanation

Vygotsky created a cognitive-developmental theory, which is also called a sociocultural theory by some. He believed that social learning comes before development. He proposed the idea that children master new skills through interacting with other people that have a higher level of understanding than them. This person is referred to as a More Knowledgeable Other or MKO and is usually someone older, but does not have to be. Another component of his theory was that children have a Zone of Proximal Development or ZPD. This zone is the difference between not being able to do something and being able to accomplish it with help.

Pros and Cons

-Vygotsky's theory is the basis for a large developmental research. It is applauded and referred to for several different reasons. First, it claims that children are active learners in their development. It also states that development cannot be separated from the social aspect. Another pro is that learning can lead to development. Last, language plays an important role in development. He also believed that development includes both nature and nurture, which is an idea approved by a majority of psychologists.

-Like every other theory, Vygotsky's has criticisms as well. One con to his theory is that he claimed language and thought developed on separate paths, but many have confirmed that they are intertwined. He includes the idea that children are completely active in learning, which is often argued that they are rather passive. Another criticism is that his theory is not fully developed. A part of this is because he died at a young age of 37, but this is still a down side to his otherwise appraised theory.

Application in Classroom

Vygotsky's theory is somehow applied in almost every classroom, almost every day. Children often work in cooperative pairs, which includes the social aspect of his theory. For example, students often do buddy reading where one student reads while the other listens. Then, the students switch and take on the other role. The theory can also be applied when students are not understanding a topic, but learn with the teacher's assistance. Scaffolding is often used in classrooms when teachers give students hints and prompts, then slowly back off and let the students do their own figuring. With this being said, most of Vygotsky's theory still exists in education today.

Information about Theorist

Lev Vygotsky was born in Russia in 1896. He studied and graduated from Moscow University with a law degree. Soon after, he was invited to research at the Psychological Institute at Moscow. His first dissertation was the Psychology of Art, which he completed in 1925. A few years later, with the help of Alexander Luria and Alexei Leontiev, he began developing the Vygotskian approach to psychology. This approach investigated the development of higher cognitive functions. That included memory, selective attention, decision making, and language comprehension. They created the basis for what is known today as cultural-historical psychology. His work is not as well developed as it could be because he died of tuberculosis in 1934, at only 37 years old.

Works Cited

Carpenter, Michael E. "Pros & Cons for Vygotsky's Theory of Language Development." EHow. Demand Media, 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

Gallagher, Christina. "Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky." Psychology History. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

"Glossary." Tools of the Mind. N.p., 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.

"Social Development Theory (Vygotsky)." Learning Theories RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.


VYGOTSKY'S DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY: AN INTRODUCTION ( DAVIDSON FILMS )