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Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

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  1. Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos

  2. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Vygotsky • Russian Renaissance man • Began studying psychology at age 28. Died of tuberculosis at age 38 • Under pressure to create a theory of education in line with Marxism • Russian government suppressed his ideas • Not widely published until after the Cold War ended

  3. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Assumptions • Cognitive development cannot be separated from the culture • Thinking is transformed through the use of tools • Development is studied by examining the process of change

  4. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Methodology • Dynamic Assessment: What children can do with assistance better reflects intelligence than what a child can do alone • The experimenter progressively provides more clues on how to solve the task • Goal is to assess how much support a child requires in order to solve the task

  5. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Psychological Tools • Tool: Something that can be used in the service of something else • Technical Tools: Change and control objects • Psychological Tools: Change thought and control behavior • Language system • Number system • Writing system • According to Vygotsky, language is the most important psychological tool

  6. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Development Sociocultural Theory of Development Culture Social Interaction Language

  7. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Sociocultural Theory of Development • Culture: Attitudes, values, customs, and behavioral patterns that characterize a social group • Culture influences: • What is thought about • Skills to be acquired • How to acquire information • The tools and symbols available to facilitate development and thinking • When a person is allowed to participate in an activity • Who is allowed to participate in an activity

  8. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Sociocultural Theory of Development • Language: System of meaning from the culture that shapes a person’s attempt to make sense of the world • Vygotsky: Language is necessary for abstract thinking • Language symbols provide freedom from the immediate perceptual, concrete context • Roles of Language • Provide cognitive tool to think about problems • Allow to regulate and reflect on thinking • Enables social interaction

  9. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Sociocultural Theory of Development • Social Interactions • Vygotsky: Complex thinking has its roots in social interactions • Piaget: Complex thinking is the result of private explorations • Vygotsky: Learning new skills results from guidance by a more skilled person who structures the child’s learning process • Piaget: Learning is supported by interactions with peers

  10. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos ZPD Zone of Proximal Development ZPD: Range of tasks that an individual can not do alone but can accomplish when assisted by a more skilled partner What the student cannot do even with assistance What the student can do with assistance What the student can do by themselves

  11. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Scaffolding • Scaffolding: Assistance by a more skilled person that allows students to complete tasks they cannot do independently • Types of Scaffolding • Modeling • Think-aloud • Questions • Adapting instructional materials

  12. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Scaffolding • Characteristics of a good scaffold: • Maintains the child’s attention • Models the best strategy • Adapts the process to the child’s level of development

  13. Comparing Developmental Theories Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos

  14. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Critique of Sociocultural Theory • Strengths • Attention to social and cultural context • Sensitive to the diversity of development • Weaknesses • ZPD is vague • Little description of the process of development or an explanation of development • Difficult to study the cultural-historical contexts

  15. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Contributions of Vygotsky • Education • Teach within each student’s zone of proximal development • Use scaffolding to facilitate learning • Social interaction enhances the learning process • Psychology • Originated the microgenetic method • Pointed out that higher mental processes are rooted in social processes • Highlighted that mental processes can only be understood by studying the tools and signs that mediate thought

  16. Dr. K. A. Korb University of Jos Revision • According to Vygotsky, what are the three elements that influence development? • What is the zone of proximal development? • How can teachers support learning in the zone of proximal development?