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Who was the main sociocultural theorist?



Define culture.

A system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours and artefacts, conscious and unconscious, transmitted across generations through learning.


What is the cultural influence view?

Individuals are still primary unit of analysis.
Influence of culture on individuals - independent variables are cultural, dependent variables are individual.


What is the sociocultural theory?

Can't separate people from institutions in culture.
Product of social + cultural experiences.
Emphasises importance of cultural variation in development (e.g. language).


What is the social constructionist approach?

Children actively construct their knowledge and understanding.
Ways of thinking develop primarily through social interaction. Cognitive development depends on tools provided by society. Minds shaped by cultural context.


Explain the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky).

Distance between a child's actual developmental level is determined by independent problem solving and higher level of potential development under adulthood guidance + collaboration with peers.


What is scaffolding in the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky)?

Scaffolding = support from others to reach potential.
Increase help when child fails - give greater latitude when he succeeds. Allows problem solving on own to increase.


What was Vygotsky's view of children's speech (specifically egocentric speech)?

Language goes from socialised to egocentric to inner.
Egocentric language is realistic. It emerges when child transfer social forms of behaviour to inner-personal psychic functions. Declines with age but is crucial in development. Intermediate phase - transition from speech for others to speech for oneself. Increases with frustration + difficulties. Guides comprehension of situations.
Child doesn't believe others can understanding egocentric speech.
Instruction + learning promote the process of internalisation (from egocentric to inner).
Egocentric speech is essential. Against Piaget's theory who believed it served no role.


Name two studies which helped us understand egocentric speech.

Bivens & Berk (1990) - task-relevant, external manifestation speech predicts performance in grade 3. Speech helps guide children to inner speech.
Duncan & Pratt (1997) - egocentric speech shows less eye contact + softer tones. Children spoke more before starting the task - planning increases over time.

Main conclusions: task difficult increases egocentric speech. More planning speech for difficult items. Egocentric speech has a useful function.


What was Piaget's view of children's speech?

From autistic (no speech) to syncretistic (egocentric speech) to intellectual (social speech).
Egocentric speech serves no purpose. Dies out eventually.
Children don't speak until they have non-autistic thought.
Egocentricism is impervious to teaching (assimilation).
Mental maturity.


What is egocentrism?

Belief that others see the world precisely the way you do.
This occurs in the pre operational stage (Piaget).


What is the preoperational stage (Piaget)?

Children's thoughts + communications are egocentric (2-7yos).
Sigler (2003) - intelligence is demonstrated through use of symbols. Memory + imagination are developed. Thinking is non-logical, non-reversible. Egocentric thinking dominates.


Describe some of the results from Piaget's functions of language in two children of 6 study.

Egocentric speech - 37% and 39%.
Commands + requests + threats 10% and 15%.
Socialised speech 13% and 14%.


What are the two main types of talk identified by Piaget?

Egocentric thought - no function.
Socialised - exchange with others.
Adults think socially (even when alone), children under 7 think egocentrically (even in the society of others).


What is mental maturity (Piaget)?

Ratio of socialised to egocentric speech.


What was Barbara Rogoff's view of learning?

Learning is situated - function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs. Social interaction is critical.
Sociocultural focus - importance of cultural tools + practices.
Development and learning can't be explained only through the study of individuals.


What are Piaget and Rogoff's contrasting views of the endpoints of development?

Piaget - undirectional.
Rogoff - no universal endport. Multidirectional. Each culture has its own local goals - development proceeds differently in different cultures.


How do children learn cultural practices?

Through guided participation.


Describe a study that explains the importance of formal schooling.

Rogoff & Wadell (1982) - schooled vs non-schooled. Schooled were better at standard list tasks. Non-schooled were better at putting objects into panorama.
School resists engagement + limits use of cultural resources.


Explain the constructivist view of beliefs.

Children start with a naive theory of physics. Children already have their own ideas.
Synthetic models are created as assimilation occurs.
New knowledge must be integrated with existing knowledge - existing networks may be challenged by new ideas.


Why do researchers study children's understanding of Earth?

If children say it's flat - influenced by intuitions + observations.
If children say it's spherical - concepts must be culturally transmitted.
Create mental models - flat earth (initial) - dual earth (synthetic) - hollow sphere (synthetic).
Intuitions + observations are gradually displaced by scientific information. Conceptual systematicity.

For adults: mental models are methodological artefacts. Adults can find some of the questions confusing but when clarified, adults complete the task with ease (the Earth study).


What are some criticisms of studies and theories within the learning in context area?

Need a more developmental account of contexts + children. How does the child develop? Sociocultural theory needs to give more understanding of the child, just not culture.
More description of contexts of children of various ages + developmental levels. Lab based - low ecological validity.
Cognitive level permits/constrains processes in the zone.