Social Interactionist Theory In Early Childhood

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How language and literacy develops has long been a matter of theoretical debate, where numerous academics have been unable to decide on a single theory which can explain the most effective method of learning which can have the greatest effect on the cognitive development of an individual. B.F. Skinner’s (1957) theory of behaviourism and Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) Social Interactionist theory are two such learning models, each with their own distinct differences and implications when applied within an early childhood setting. This essay will focus on comparing these two theories through an analysis of each method’s key characteristics, comparable features and their educational implications within a teaching environment. This discussion will be utilised …show more content…
This theory is built around the idea that both social and biological processes are significant where “social interactions between children and the significant people in their environment as being the key to language learning and development” (Fellows Pg 51). Kearns, (2010) describes this theory in practice whereby the learning and development of the individual is dependent on the way the adult interacts to facilitate the learning process. Adults act as a guide to provide the child with the ability to explore through communicating with others, slowly developing their own knowledge and assumptions of the world around them. There is one central aspect of Vygotsky’s (1978) theory which set it apart from other theories of cognitive development, this being the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development …show more content…
Comparatively, Social Interactionist theory takes the perspective that the learners own “personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions.” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, Pg 55) determines how the learning is facilitated, where a guiding adult is utilised to provide an interactive experience to encourage cognitive development. The most important factor which influences behaviourist learning is the arrangement of stimuli and the nature of reward and consequences within the environment, this differs from social Interactionist learning in that “Both learner and environmental factors are critical to the social interactionist, as it is the specific interaction between these two variables that creates knowledge.” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, Pg 55) through engagement, participation and social and cultural experiences. The role of memory within a behaviourist context is that memory is hardwired due to repeated experiences where reward and punishment have influenced the learnt behaviours; this differs from interactionist theory where memory is determined by prior constructed knowledge being remixed and applied to the context being experienced by the individual. The transfer of knowledge for behaviourist is through stimuli’s and

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