How Does Social Constructivism Affect Studying

In the times that we live in, there are many theories discussing methods on how to extract the most potential out of an individual. For decades, there has been a debate about whether the theory of general intelligence or multiple intelligences (by Howard Gardner) is more relevant. But most experts have undermined what Vygotsky outlined.

Through his understanding of social constructivism, his idea was to explain how others’ guidance could enhance and help you get the most out of your abilities. When deconstructed, this theory makes a lot of sense and can be a great standing point for educators worldwide.

Who Was Lev Vygotsky?

As one of the most renowned psychologists for the time that he lived in (1896-1934), Lev was an advocate of how culture and social interaction affect individuals’ mental processes. The main point in which he differed from Piaget (a psychologist proposing the importance of intrinsic development) is that the language and the cultural setting in which you live can decide the impact on the developed abilities.

The main reasoning behind this concept was that by learning about others’ existing norms, commons, and experiences, you can come to conclusions that differ from your ideas coming from pure empiricism. 

The Idea Of Proximal Development

Deconstructing his theory, educators did find that proximal development can be put into practice in the form of scaffolding. By determining what the potential of an individual learner is, the educators would offer guidance until one tool or ability is mastered to the point of not needing additional help. According to Vygotsky, there is part of the zone of proximal development that allows students who need assistance to learn primarily on their own with the guidance of someone with more knowledge on the topic. This will enable students who are less advanced to learn within their ZPD.

Another common practice in educational institutions is allowing students who have already acquired certain abilities to help those at a lower level. This form of collaborative learning is credited to Vygotsky (though he never directly addressed it).

The Importance Of Self Speech

While defining the concept differently, both Piaget and Vygotsky did agree on the value of self-speech. The latter described it as something that we do to solve problems and clarify our thoughts. 

Frankly, by speaking out loud and verbalizing our thoughts, it can be easier to find a solution as it replicates the situation where we would discuss a particular subject with another individual. While, according to Vygotsky, it may not be as profound, private speech can go a long way when it comes to memorizing or trying to remember important information.

Concluding Thoughts

Lev Vygotsky may not be the psychologist that you hear about on an everyday basis, but his theory of social constructivism certainly makes sense. If the school or college you are going to isn’t applying some of these relevant methods, we suggest that you start a discussion on proximal development or collaborative learning.

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