Cognition & Development: Vygotsky


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Lecture 4 in the module 'Cognition & Development'. Vygotsky.

Learning Outcomes: Introduce the Vygotskian theory. Think about how Vygotskian theory has informed Developmental psychology. Consider the relationship between language and development. Consider the educational implications of Vygotsky’s theory.

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Cognition & Development: Vygotsky

  1. 1. Cognitive Development: Vygotsky COGNITION AND DEVELOPMENT (4PS500) Dr Simon Bignell Lecture content originally produced by Dr Jenny Hallam
  2. 2. Lecture aims  Introduce the Vygotskian theory .  Think about how Vygotskian theory has informed Developmental psychology.  Consider the relationship between language and development.  Consider the educational implications of Vygotsky‟s theory.
  3. 3. Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) Social Constructivism He argued that all cognitive functions originate in, and must therefore be explained as products of social interactions and that learning was not simply the „assimilation and accommodation‟ of new knowledge by learners. It was the process by which learners were integrated into a knowledge community.
  4. 4. Vygotskian theory  Elementary mental functions: Psychological functions with which the child is endowed by nature, including attention, perception and involuntary memory processes that emerge spontaneously during children‟s interaction with the world.  Higher mental functions: Psychological functions such as voluntary attention, complex memory processes and problem solving that entail the use of several cognitive processes and the use of mediators.  Mediators: Psychological tools and signs – such as language, counting, mnemonic devices, algebraic symbols, art and writing which facilitate direct thinking processes.
  5. 5. The Development of Memory  Elementary mental function: Children are born with basic memory systems that resemble perception.  Higher mental function: Children are able to store and remember a range of information.  Mediators: Children might be taught to write things down to help remember them.
  6. 6. The Importance of Culture  Mediators are specific to the culture and the time the child is developing in.  Asian children were often taught maths using an abacus.  Computer programmes are used in classrooms to make maths fun.
  7. 7. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) “The distance between the child‟s actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers”. Lev Vygotsky (1978)
  8. 8. ZPD in Action
  9. 9. Working in the ZPD  The ZPD supports children‟s learning in a number of ways.  Activity in the ZPD reinforces what that child knows and introduces new ideas and strategies.  Children are able to complete tasks they cannot do alone.  The help must be pitched at the right level.
  10. 10. Bruner and ‘Scaffolding’  Scaffolding: “…a form of support for the development and learning of children and young people." (Rasmussen, 2001, p.570) - Recruitment - Reduction of the degrees of freedom - Direction maintenance - Making critical features - Demonstration
  11. 11. The Importance of Language “Every function in the child‟s cultural development appears twice: first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological)” Vygotsky (1978, p.57).
  12. 12. Language and Development  Vygotsky argued at language and thought are separate for infants but at the age of 2 language and thought come together  Communicative speech: used to interact with others  Egocentric speech or private speech: allows children to talk through what they are doing  Inner speech: our inner voice, our thoughts  Language plays an integral part in developing cognitive functioning and is not a reflection of the child‟s ability  The child‟s development as a thinker begins with egocentric speech and continues to develop through interaction with others.
  13. 13. Barbara Rogoff “Cognitive development is an apprenticeship – it occurs through guided participation in social activity with companions who support and stretch children‟s understanding and skills using the tools of culture” Rogoff (1990)
  14. 14. Guided Participation  Learning is an active process  Children learn through guided participation – interaction with others  Intent community participation - In every day life children regularly find ways of engaging with activities with other members of their community - These activities offer informal learning opportunities - Rogoff, Paradise, Mejia Arauz., Correa-Chavez, & Angelillo (2003)
  15. 15. The Importance of Culture  Children have different access to symbolic tools and material tools  There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that culture shapes our thinking and development - Verbal ability (Heath, 1998) - Problem solving (Chen, Mo & Honomichi, 2004) - Maths ability (Carraher, Shiiemann & Carraher, 1988)
  16. 16. Understanding Development Rogoff, Baker Sennett, Lacasa, & Goldsmith (1995)  Community plane of analysis: What community does the child belong to?  Interpersonal plane of analysis: How do people work together to develop understanding?  Personal Plan of analysis: What has the child learned in their interaction with others?
  17. 17. Educational Implications  The KEEP program in Hawaii (Tharp & Gallimore, 1988)  The community of learners program in America (Brown, 1997)  Mercer‟s (2005, 2007) dialogic teaching model and thinking together program in England  The collaborative group work in the classroom technique developed by (Cowie, 1994).
  18. 18. Summary  Development is conceptualised as socially mediated process which is shaped by the cultural and historical contexts it takes place in.  Challenges the idea the development is biologically driven.  Development is not a universal process.  Researchers should focus on interaction and not individual children.
  19. 19. Piaget & Vygotsky in 90 seconds 
  20. 20. Recommended Reading  Daniels, H., Cole, M & Wetsch, J. (2007) The Cambridge companion to Vygotsky. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press  Mooney, C. (2000) Theories of childhood : An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. St. Paul, Minn.: Redleaf Press  Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in Thinking: Cognitive Development In A Social Context. New York: Oxford University Press.  Smith, P. K. & Cowie, H, & Blades, M.. (2003). Understanding Children's Development (4th ed.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell. (chapter 15)