Educational implications of vygotskian theory

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Unformatted text preview: ng and knowing could also differ. People’s cognitive development would have to be understood in terms of its cultural contexts. This viewpoint has come to be known as a contextualist view of cognition. Contextualist views of development explain human development in terms of the complex interactions between people and their various environmental contexts (Rogoff & Morelli, 1987; Steenbarger, 1991; Sue, 1991). Educational Implications of Vygotskian Theory Vygotsky’s theoretical ideas have implications for both instruction and assessment. The zone of proximal development provides a mechanism for providing strategy and skill learning. Vygotsky’s view of the role of culture in 31 development has led some to consider classrooms as cultural contexts. For example, how do classroom participation structures promote or constrain learners’ interactions within those classrooms? The goal here has been to develop classroom cultures that support students’ active learning within their zones of proximal development. Finally, the zone of proximal development provides a structure for assessing students’ learning potential. The Zone of Proximal Development and Strategy and Skill Learning Students’ skill and strategy learning within their zones of proximal development can be conceptualized in two ways. Teaching within the zone of proximal development can be conceptualized as a tutorial or as an opportunity for collaborative problem solving. Tutoring within the zone of proximal development. In a tutorial approach learners interact with more skilled peers or adults to perform a task that those learners cannot perform independently. The adults or more skilled peers in these situations guide or support the performance of the learners with the goal of helping them internalize important skills or strategies This guidance that is provided by more skilled learners is often referred to as scaffolding (De Guerrero & Villamil, 2000; Wood, Bruner & Ross, 1976), However, it also has been referred to as guided participation (Radziszewska & Rogoff, 1991) and responsive teaching (Gaskins, Anderson, Pressley, Cunicelli, & Satlow, 1993). Scaffolding is 32 also important in cognitive apprenticeship approaches (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). Scaffolding usually follows a three-step sequence. At first, the adults or more skilled learners assume most of the responsibility for completing the task. For example, they may model and explain what they are doing. Second, the learner and the adult or peer guide share responsibility for task completion. The guide gradually relinquishes control to the learner as the learners’ skills increase. Finally, the learner takes full responsibility for completing the task. This final step represents a transition from socially supported performance to independent performance. From a Vygotskian perspective, a new zone of proximal development has been created. We will have more to say about scaffolding later in this chapter. Collaborative prob...
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