Piaget vs. Vygotsky Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

How do the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky differ in terms of cognitive development? This lesson plan uses a video lesson to explore this question. An activity gives students hands-on practice with the application of both theories.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize the theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky in regard to cognitive development
  • list the similarities between the two theories
  • differentiate between the two theories


45 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.


Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.


  • Paper copies of the worksheet from the associated video lesson


  • Begin by writing the following term on the board for the class to see: 'cognitive development.'
    • What is meant by the term on the board?
    • How does cognition change from birth to death?
  • Play the video lesson Differences between Piaget & Vygotsky's Cognitive Development Theories, pausing it at 1:34.
    • What is cognitive development?
    • What guides Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development?
    • How many stages are presented in Piaget's theory?
    • What assumptions are made by each of the stages in Piaget's theory of cognitive development?
  • Play the video lesson again and pause it at 2:38.
    • Why do you think Vygotsky's theory is referred to as a cultural-historical theory?
    • What assumptions does Vygotsky's theory operate on?
    • Why is speech a critical factor in Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development?
  • Play the video lesson. Pause it at 4:12.
    • How do Piaget and Vygotsy compare on the notion of children as active learners?
    • How do Piaget and Vygotsky approach the idea of cognitive decline?
    • What is cognitive conflict and how does it factor into the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky?
    • What is egocentric speech and how is it approached in the cognitive developmental theories of Piaget and Vygotsky?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class.
    • Which theorist believes that learning occurs before cognitive development?
    • Which theorist assumes that maturation prompts cognitive development?
    • Which theorist highlights social influences as important predictors of cognitive development?
    • How do the two theories differ on the important of language in cognitive development?
  • Pass out the worksheet to each student in class.
  • Instruct the students to work independently to complete the worksheet using what they learned about the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky from the video lesson and class discussion.
  • When all students have completed the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class as students self-check their papers.

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