Lev Vygotsky’s theory of Socio Cultural Development

Vygotsky was called “The Mozart of Psychology“. He was born in 1896- same year as Piaget – in the small Russian town of Orsha.

The sociocultural theory:

  • Did NOT focus on the individual child but on the child as a product of social interaction, especially with adults (parents, teachers).
  • Focus on DYADIC INTERACTIONS (e.g., child being taught by a parent how to perform some culturally specific action), rather than child by himself.
  • Social world mediates children’s cognitive development. Cognitive development occurs as child’s thinking is molded by society in the form of parents, teachers, and peers. This leads to peer tutoring as a strategy in classrooms.
  • People’s thinking differs dramatically between cultures because different cultures stress different things.

Theory’s Principles and Concepts:

Children construct their knowledge.
Knowledge is not transferred passively, but is personally constructed.

The learning is mediated.
Cognitive development is not a direct result of activity, but it is indirect; other people must interact with the learner, use mediatory tools to facilitate the learning process, and then cognitive development may occur.

Language plays a central role in mental development.
The most significant sociocultural tool is language, as it is used to teach tool use and is vital in the process of developing higher psychological functions.

Learning appears twice.
First on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first between people (interpsychology), and then inside the child (intrapsychology).

Development cannot be separated from its social context.
The context needed for learning is that where the learners can interact with each other and use the new tools. This means that the learning environment must be authentic, that is, it must contain the type of people who would use these types of tools such as concepts, language, symbols in a natural way.

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
The difference between what a child can do independently and what the child needs help from a more knowledgeable person to do is the Zone of Proximal Development.

Zone of Proximal Development

“role of teachers and others in supporting the learner’s development and providing support structures to get to the next stage or level” Vygotsky.

a knowledgeable participant can create by means of speech and supportive conditions in which the student (novice) can participate in and extend current skills and knowledge to a high level of competence.

In an educational context, however, scaffolding is an instructional structure whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task then gradually shifts responsibility to the students.

Provides support
Extends the range of what a learner can do.
Allows the learner to accomplish tasks otherwise impossible
Used only when needed


Almost every CTET and State TET ( UPTET, HTET etc) question paper has questions from this topic. Refer

Previous Year Questions:

Question #1 According to Lev Vygotsky, the primary cause of cognitive development is:

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-09]
  • social interaction correct answer
  • adjustment of mental schemas
  • stimulus-response pairing
  • equilibration
Question #2 As a teacher, who firmly believes in social constructivist theory of Lev Vygotsky, which of the following methods would you prefer for assessing your students?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-09]
  • Standardized tests
  • Fact based recall questions
  • Objective multiple choice type questions
  • Collaborative projects correct answer
Question #3 According to Vygotsky, children learn

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-02]
  • when reinforcement is offered
  • by maturation
  • by imitation
  • by interacting with adults and peers correct answer
Question #4 Which one of the following statements about children would Vygotsky agree with?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2015-09]
  • Children learn when they are offered lucrative rewards
  • Children’s thinking can be understood by conducting laboratory experiments on animals
  • Children are born evil and need to be controlled through punishment
  • Children learn through social interaction with peers and adults correct answer
Question #5 In Vygotsky’s theory , which aspect of development gets neglected?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2014-09]
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Biological correct answer
  • Linguistic
Question #6 According to Lev Vygotsky:

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-09]
  • children learn language through a language acquisition device
  • interaction with adults and peers does not influence language development
  • language development changes the nature of human thought correct answer
  • culture plays a very small role in language development
Question #7 Which of the following statements describes Piaget and Vygotsky’s views on language and thought correctly?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-09]
  • Both view language as emerging from the child’s thought.
  • According to Vygotsky, thought emerges first and according to Piaget, language has a profoud effect on thought.
  • According to Piaget, thought emerges first and according to Vygotsky, language has a profound effect on thought. correct answer
  • Both view thought as emerging from the child’s language.
Question #8 Vygotsky emphasized the significance of the role played by which of the following factors in the learning of children?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2012-01]
  • Hereditary
  • Moral
  • Physical
  • Social correct answer
Question #9 According to socio-cultural theory of Vygotsky

[Language II – English] [CTET-2015-09]
  • sel-directed speech is the lowest stage of the scaffolding
  • children can think in abstract terms if abstract material is provided at a lower age
  • children drink in different domain and do the take a complete perspective
  • culture helps in language development correct answer
Question #10 A teacher wishes to help her students to appreciate multiple views of a situation. She provides her students multiple opportunities to debate on this situation in different groups. According to Vygotsky’s perspective, her students will …….various views and develop multiple perspectives of the situation on their own

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2013-07]
  • rationalize
  • internalize correct answer
  • construct
  • operationalize
Question #11 Which of the following is based on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2014-02]
  • Operant conditioning
  • Reciprocal teaching correct answer
  • Culture-neutral cognitive development
  • Insight learning
Question #12 According to Socio-cultural theory of Vygotsky

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2014-09]
  • culture and language play a crucial role in development correct answer
  • the child thinks in different domains and does not take a complete perspective
  • children think in abstract terms if presented abstract material at a lower age
  • self-directed speech is the lowest stage of the scaffold
Question #13 The concept of ‘private speech’ of children as proposed by Vygotsky

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-02]
  • shows that children are stupid and thus need guidance of adults
  • illustrates that children are egocentric correct answer
  • shows that children love themselves
  • illustrates that children use speech to guide their own actions
Question #14 According to Vygotsky, learning cannot be separated form

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-02]
  • perception and attentional processes
  • its social context correct answer
  • reinforcement
  • a measurable change in behavior
Question #15 In a constructivist classroom as envisioned by Piaget and Vygotsky, learning

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-02]
  • is offering of reinforcement by the teacher
  • is constructed by the students themselves who play an active role
  • is dictated by the teacher and the students are passive recipients of the same
  • happens by pairing of stimulus and response correct answer
Question #16 According to Vygotsky why do children speak to themselves?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2015-09]
  • Children use their speech to attract the attention of adults to them
  • Children are very talkative by nature
  • Children are egocentric
  • Children use speech to guide their actions correct answer
Question #17 Which one of the following is an example of scaffolding?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-02]
  • Giving prompts and cues, and asking questions at critical junctures correct answer
  • Giving motivational lectures to students
  • Offering explanations without encouraging questioning
  • Offering both material and non-material rewards
Question #18 Scaffolding in a Social Science classroom primarily intends to

[Social Studies/Social Sciences] [CTET-2014-02]
  • strengthen the desirable outcome in the summative assessment
  • help the students till the time independent thinking is possible correct answer
  • assure the improvement of self-regulatory skills
  • enable the students to envisage ideas
Question #19 Which one of the following is a good example of ‘scaffolding (learning of a problem solving task till the student is able to do it by herself)?

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2016-02]
  • Offering a reward for solving the problem quickly
  • Telling her that she can do it by trying again and again correct answer
  • Providing a half-solved example
  • Telling her she cannot go home till she solves the problem


The fact that children require culturally relevant knowledge and skills is attributed to

[Child Development and Pedagogy] [CTET-2014-09]
  • Charles Darwin
  • B.F. Skinner
  • Urie Bronfenbrenner
  • Lev Vygotsky correct answer


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