Cognitive Development

This week in ECS 200, we were tasked with reading the second chapter of our textbook. This chapter focused mainly on cognitive development and the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. Due to taking AP Psychology in high school, a lot of the topics discussed in the chapter were a review for me. Even though a lot of it was a review for me, I did learn even more from this chapter.

One of the most shocking things that I learnt about in this chapter was that there are some “general principles that almost all theorists would support” (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2013, p. 25) when discussing development. These principles were not shocking to me, as they are things you would expect, such as: “people develop at different rates, development is relatively orderly and development takes place gradually” (Woolfolk, et al., 2013, p. 25). I was more surprised to read that most theorists that study development agreed particular aspects of development since many of their theories are quite different. These principles seem very common sense, but from knowing two children who are eleven, I have seen first-hand these principles at work. One child is very independent and mature in a social setting, while the other is more dependent on others and is less mature. These two children are the same age, but due to growing up in different environments and cultures, they have developed at different rates.

Another thing that stuck out to me in this chapter, was that Vygotsky viewed private speech (muttering) as something that played an important role in cognitive development, not a sign of cognitive immaturity (Woolfolk, et al., 2013, p. 53). I found this very interesting because as a child I would talk to myself to think through different tasks. Even now, when I am faced with a more complex problem, I mutter my thoughts out loud to myself. I am glad that this is a part of cognitive development and I am not the only one that talks to myself to get through difficult situations.

The final thing that I learnt from this chapter was what the zone of proximal development (ZPD) was. The zone of proximal development is a “phase at which a child can master a task if given appropriate help and support” (Woolfolk, et al., 2013, p. 54). In short, this is the time when children are almost able to solve certain problems, but they need adult guidance to reach the solution.

I enjoyed this chapter quite a lot, but I am still curious as to how teachers are supposed to find the “magic middle” that the textbook mentioned?

Thank you for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff


Woolfolk, A. & Winne, P. & Perry, N. (2013). In O’Donnell C. (Ed.), Educational psychology (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education Inc.

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