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The learning theory of Bruner vs Piaget and Vygotsky

The learning theory of Bruner vs Piaget and Vygotsky

It is obvious that there are similarities between the theory of Piaget and Bruner, but an important difference is that in Bruner's theory the development of learning processes is not something immovable, since although a certain stage can dominate at a specific evolutionary moment, in reality all stages coexist in some way.


  • 1 Bruner vs Piaget
  • 2 Bruner vs Vygotsky
  • 3 References

Bruner vs Piaget

Bruner states that What determines the level of intellectual development is the degree to which the child has received adequate instruction along with practice or experience. Therefore, the correct way of teaching and explaining will allow a child to understand a general concept that initially is only understood by an adult. His theory highlights the role of adults in education.

Although Bruner proposes stages of cognitive development, he does not see them as a representation of the different independent modes of thinking at different points of development (such as Piaget). On the contrary, it describes a gradual development of skills and a more integrative and intertwined type of cognitive techniques.

Bruner believes that symbolic representation is crucial for cognitive development and, since language is our main means of interpreting the world, it grants him a great importance to language in the determination of cognitive development.

Matches between Bruner and PiagetDiscrepancies between Bruner and Piaget
1. Children are pre-adapted for learning.1. Development is a continuous process, not a series of stages.
2. Children have a natural curiosity.2. Language development is a cause, it is not a consequence of cognitive development.
3. Children's cognitive structures develop over time.3. It can accelerate cognitive development. It is not necessary to wait until the child is ready.
4. Children are active participants in the learning process.4. The participation of adults and peers with more knowledge makes a big difference.
5. Cognitive development involves the acquisition of symbols.5. Symbolic thinking does not replace the other modes of cognitive representation of the early stages of childhood.

Bruner vs Vygotsky

Both Bruner and Vygotsky emphasize the importance of a child's environment, especially the social environment.

Both agree that adults should play an active role in helping the child's learning.

Both Bruner and Vygotsky emphasize the social nature of learning, citing that other people should help the child develop their skills through the scaffolding process. This term first appeared in the literature when Wood, Bruner and Ross describe how tutors "interacted with preschoolers help solve a block reconstruction problem (Wood et al., 1976)."

The concept of scaffolding is very similar to those of Vygotsky and the notion of the near development zone, and it is not uncommon for the terms to be used interchangeably. Scaffolding implies a useful and structured interaction between an adult and a child, with the aim of helping the child achieve a specific objective.


Bruner, JS (1957). Beyond the information given. New York: Norton.
Bruner, JS (1960). The education process. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Bruner, JS (1966). Towards a theory of instruction. Cambridge, Mass: Belkapp Press.
Bruner, JS (1973). The relevance of education. New York: Norton.
Bruner, JS (1978). The role of dialogue in language acquisition. In A. Sinclair, R., J. Wood, DJ, Bruner, JS, and Ross, G. (1976). The role of a tutor solving a problem. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 17 (2), 89-100.