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Assimilation vs. Accommodation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 4, 2023
Assimilation integrates new experiences into existing schemas; accommodation modifies existing schemas to fit new experiences.

Key Differences

Assimilation is a cognitive process where individuals incorporate new information into their existing mental structures or schemas. On the contrary, accommodation refers to the process of adjusting or altering one's existing schemas or ideas in response to new information. Both assimilation and accommodation are integral parts of Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, emphasizing how individuals perceive, process, and adapt to new information.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
In the realm of assimilation, new experiences or data are integrated without changing the pre-existing structures. For instance, a child who has a schema for dogs might assimilate a new encounter with a cat by calling it a "dog" since both are four-legged pets. Accommodation, however, requires change. Using the previous example, when the child realizes that cats are distinct from dogs, they modify their existing schema to accommodate this new understanding.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
Another way to look at assimilation is as a form of "adding" to what you already know without changing the structure of that knowledge. For example, learning about a new kind of apple would be assimilated into your existing understanding of apples. Accommodation, in contrast, is more transformative. If you encountered a fruit you'd never seen before and didn't fit your understanding of any known fruits, you'd need to accommodate your schema to include this new category.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
Assimilation can be visualized as seamlessly integrating pieces into a puzzle where they fit without forcing them. The puzzle's overall picture doesn't change, just becomes more complete. Accommodation would be like realizing you're not just building one puzzle, but several interconnected ones, requiring a change in approach and understanding to fit pieces in their rightful places.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

Incorporating new experiences into existing mental structures.
Adjusting or altering existing schemas for new experiences.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
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Cognitive Aspect

Adds to existing schema without altering it.
Modifies or creates new schema.
Huma Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Example

Seeing a new type of bird and calling it a "bird".
Realizing bats aren't "birds" and creating a new category for them.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Outcome

Broadens understanding within existing categories.
Expands or changes categories of understanding.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Adaptability

Static approach to new information.
Dynamic, evolving approach to new information.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Assimilation and Accommodation Definitions

Assimilation

Assimilation is the integration of new experiences into existing mental structures.
Seeing a zebra for the first time, a child calls it a horse due to assimilation.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023
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Accommodation

Accommodation involves creating new categories or adjusting old ones for better understanding.
Discovering that some plants eat insects, you create a new category for carnivorous plants.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

Assimilation

Assimilation is fitting new data into pre-existing cognitive frameworks.
Discovering a new genre of music, you still label it under music due to assimilation.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Accommodation

Accommodation is modifying existing schemas to fit new experiences.
Realizing that not all flying creatures are birds, you adjust your schema to include bats.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

Assimilation

Assimilation enriches existing categories without modifying them.
Learning about various trees, they all get classified as trees.
Harlon Moss
Oct 04, 2023

Accommodation

Accommodation is the restructuring of prior knowledge in light of new information.
After learning about marine mammals, you stop calling dolphins fish.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
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Assimilation

Assimilation is absorbing new experiences within current boundaries of knowledge.
Upon trying inline skates, a child deems them like shoes through assimilation.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Accommodation

Accommodation is adapting the mind's framework to align with novel discoveries.
After realizing Pluto isn't a planet like others, you adjust your schema of planets.
Harlon Moss
Oct 04, 2023

Assimilation

Assimilation is adapting new information without changing existing schemas.
After tasting a new dessert, you categorize it as sweet based on previous experiences.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Accommodation

Accommodation reshapes cognitive structures to incorporate unique experiences.
Learning about the distinction between viruses and bacteria demands an accommodation in understanding.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 04, 2023

Assimilation

The act or process of assimilating.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Accommodation

The act of accommodating or the state of being accommodated; adjustment.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Assimilation

The state of being assimilated.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Accommodation

Something that meets a need; a convenience.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Assimilation

(Physiology) The conversion of nutriments into living tissue; constructive metabolism.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Accommodation

Room and board; lodgings.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Assimilation

(Linguistics) The process by which a sound is modified so that it becomes similar or identical to an adjacent or nearby sound. For example, the prefix in- becomes im- in impossible by assimilation to the labial p of possible.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

Accommodation

A seat, compartment, or room on a public vehicle.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 27, 2017

FAQs

How does assimilation relate to existing knowledge?

Assimilation adds to existing knowledge without altering its structure.
Harlon Moss
Oct 04, 2023

How does accommodation change our understanding?

It reshapes or creates new mental categories for a better fit with new experiences.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

What is assimilation?

Assimilation is integrating new experiences into existing mental structures.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

What's an example of assimilation in learning?

Calling all four-legged animals "dogs" based on an existing schema.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

What is accommodation?

Accommodation is adjusting or altering existing schemas to fit new experiences.
Huma Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Who introduced the concepts of assimilation and accommodation?

Jean Piaget, in his theory of cognitive development.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Can adults also undergo assimilation and accommodation?

Yes, these processes occur throughout life as we encounter new information and experiences.
Harlon Moss
Oct 04, 2023

Are assimilation and accommodation opposing processes?

No, they work together to help individuals process and adapt to new information.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Can assimilation occur without accommodation?

Yes, especially when new experiences align with pre-existing schemas.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Is accommodation always about creating new schemas?

No, it can involve modifying existing schemas as well.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Is assimilation a passive process?

It's relatively passive compared to accommodation as it doesn't change existing mental structures.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

How do assimilation and accommodation contribute to learning?

They help individuals integrate new experiences and adjust their understanding of the world.
Sara Rehman
Oct 04, 2023

How do assimilation and accommodation impact child development?

They influence how children perceive, process, and adapt to new experiences.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Does accommodation require more cognitive effort?

Typically, yes, as it involves restructuring or modifying mental schemas.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Can accommodation lead to misconceptions?

If not followed by proper assimilation, misconceptions can arise.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

How can educators encourage accommodation?

By introducing challenging material that requires students to reshape their understanding.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

Is assimilation about conformity?

Not necessarily; in cognitive terms, it's about fitting new experiences into existing frameworks.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

What's an example of accommodation in learning?

Realizing that whales aren't fish and adjusting one's understanding of marine life.
Janet White
Oct 04, 2023

Why are assimilation and accommodation crucial in education?

They help educators understand how students process and adapt to new information.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023

How can teachers promote assimilation?

By providing examples that fit into students' existing knowledge.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 04, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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