Human Development and Principles of Learning. Module 5: Piaget, Vygotsky, and Constructivist Classroom Applications

One of the strengths of Piaget’s theory is his description of how human beings move in and out of egocentric displays of behavior as they progress through the formal operations structure. According to Crain (2000), each stage consists of a human being egocentric in some form and reaching a stage of decentering, only to develop into another manifestation of egocentrism at the next stage. Finally, as an adolescent egocentrism takes the form of one having idealistic views of how they can transform the world. In the Piaget construct we experience a final decentering as we discover how our views about the world can be realistically applied. I find this concept of egocentrism to be utilitarian in reflecting and planning how I will interact with children relative to their age.
I agree with the Psaltis et al. article that Piaget’s work is lacking in consideration of sociocultural contexts. However, I do feel that the general framework can be adapted to any educational culture as a useful tool for considering children’s’ developmental needs. Psaltis et al. (2009) describe the process of interiorization vs. internalization, and the former being the process by which learners commit new knowledge in a sustaining fashion. I believe this concept has valuable implications for instruction regardless of sociocultural context.
According to Powell & Kalina (2009), cognitive and social constructivism should be used alternately in the classroom to create a meaningful and productive learning environment. Cognitive constructivism involves consideration of how a child is interacting with their environment, and optimizing the potential for learning by making that environment stimulating and safe. A teacher can provide structured times for educational free exploration such as having a science lesson where students are allowed time to various materials that are arranged on a tray allowing each students to have their own scientific journey. This activity can be followed with a group discussion where the teacher provides a catalyst question, such as, “which materials did you think were the most absorbent? Why?” I think providing students with as many opportunities for authentic learning is essential to constructivist learning. For example, my mentor school has second and third graders create and run a postal system, and the whole community participate in buying supplies and correspondence. It is a meaningful constructed learning unit that fosters a unification of all the students in a common project.
Crain, W. (2005). Theories of development: Concepts and applications (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Powell, K.C., & Kalina C.J. (2009). Cognitive and social constructivism: Developing tools for an effective classroom. Education, 130(2). Retrieved from:
Psaltis, C., Duveen, G. &Perret-Clermont, A. N. (2009). The social and the psychological: Structure and context in intellectual development. Human Development, 59, 291-312. Retrieved from:

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