Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning

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Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning

  1. 1.  Over the course of the semester, I have been exposed to many theories about children and how they learn and process information. I am thankful that the educational system, while far from perfect, has made an effort to move from the “Leave it to Beaver” style of teaching to new and innovative methods. From Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to the Montessori way of teaching, the educational system has come a long way from the 1950’s mainstream way of teaching. While all of the theories and principles are very valid, the one that resonates the most with me is Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory.
  2. 2.  In a nutshell, Lev Vygotsky’s theory states that children learn from their interactions with society and their culture and that, with help, they can learn even more. Of all of the theories that we have learned about, this one meshes the best with my own views. His theory puts the teacher in the role of a mentor. To me, teaching is mentoring and mentoring is helping. The idea of scaffolding, or helping a child attain the identified goals represents the ideal way to help a child achieve true learning.
  3. 3.  Social interaction is critical for cognitive development. Related to this is the idea of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Some skills an individual can perform independently; other skills can be performed if the individual has assistance. Skills that can be performed with assistance are said to be within an individual’s ZPD. The ZPD is the theoretical basis for scaffolding. -www. teachersgarden.com/professionalresources/learningtheorists.html
  4. 4.  [Children’s] understanding of this world comes, in part, from the values and beliefs of the adults and other children in their lives (Mooney, 2006).  “…children need to learn more than a set of facts and skills. They need to master a set of mental tools—tools of the mind.” http://www.toolsofthemind.org/philosophy/vygotskianapproach/  “Play” is an integral part of a child’s learning  “A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that tomorrow will become her basic level of real action.” - Vygotsky
  5. 5.  “…understanding the relationship between theory and practice is realizing that the student is more important than the teacher in determining what is learned.” (www. education.com/reference/article/theories of learning)
  6. 6.  The best way to implement Vgotsky’s theory is through group work, so this is the strategy I plan to use the most. The group work can be accomplished in several ways, but three jump immediately to mind.    Peer to peer Parents/family Community
  7. 7. Students work in pairs or small groups • Provides students the opportunity to share with one another their ideas, views and opinions • Non threatening, relaxed environment assures that students feel comfortable asking questions and putting forth ideas • Students more likely to listen to one another Teacher’s Role: • Identify goals that students need to meet and what work needs to be accomplished. Provide higher level of assistance than peers are able demonstrating Vygotsky’s theory that students can attain higher levels with assistance from a more competent individual. •
  8. 8.    Bring parents/family into classroom to assist students in learning Provides a safe and secure environment Especially effective for ELLs Teacher’s Role:  Use the resource of family to help students attain their educational goals. Use these members as the more competent individuals to assist the students, thereby increasing their ZPD. Again, this fits into Vygotsky’s theory because it utilizes the student’s strongest connection, that of family, to create scaffolding that the student can build on to meet the identified goals. For ELLs, they are also able to learn in their primary language.
  9. 9. Bringing community members into the class introduces students to a larger “family” than what they find when they go home.  Accomplishes many of the same objectives as formal family members, but provides extra scaffolding.  Introduces students to new ways of thinking and problem solving Teacher’s Role:  The same as utilizing formal family members. 
  10. 10.      Bringing family and community members into the classroom has the added benefit of exposing students to new and different cultures and diversity. It exposes students to different ways of thinking and different possible solutions. It creates a student driven classroom where the likelihood of students buying into their education is greatly increased. This in turn increases interest in learning. It creates higher standards which in turn lead to greater accomplishments. Produces well rounded, confident individuals who grow into high producing adults.
  11. 11.  A. Benefits Focusing on the Process of Collaborative Learning Comments (# of responses): Helped understanding (21) Pooled knowledge and experience (17) Got helpful feedback (14) Stimulated thinking (12) Got new perspectives (9) B. Benefits Focusing on Social and Emotional Aspects Comments (# of responses) More relaxed atmosphere makes problem- solving easy (15) It was fun (12) Greater responsibility- for myself and the group (4) Made new friends (3) C. Negative Aspects of Collaborative Learning Comments (# of responses) Wasted time explaining the material to others (2) -http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v7n1/gokhale.jte-v7n1.html
  12. 12.  While Vygotsky’s theory works best in small groups, there is ample opportunity to incorporate individual work as well. The individual work can also be used as assessments. Working alone will show the teacher what the student actually knows and also how much the student’s actual development has increased.
  13. 13.      www.teachersgarden.com/professionalresources/ learningtheorists.html http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v7n1/go khale.jte-v7n1.html Mooney, C. (2006). Theories of childhood an introduction to Dewey Montessori Erikson Piaget & Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Merrill/Prentice Hall. www.education.com/reference/article/theoriesof-learning www.toolsofthemind.org/philosophy/vygotskian -approach/

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