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PSYC 3440 (22)
Caron Bell (10)
Chapter 4

Cognitive Development - Chapter 4

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3440
Caron Bell

Sociocultural Theories of Development  Social world has a profound effect on what children do, on what they think about, and on how they think  Interactions with others provides children with opportunities for learning and help children to perform tasks that they are not able to perform on their own  Central Themes of Sociocultural Approaches to Cognitive Development o Share several common themes  Cognitive development occurs within social interaction  Physiological functioning is mediated by cultural tools including language o Two additional themes  Cultural norms and other people influence children’s opportunities for learning  Social and cultural learning require particular cognitive abilities on the parts of learning and teachers  Cognitive Development Occurs in Social Interactions o Children’s interactions with other people have a profound influence on the course of children’s development o View social environment as integral part of children’s thinking and behaviour  Child’s cognition and behaviour cannot be separated from social context in which they take place o Emphasis on child in context as unit of analysis o Social interactions are an integral part of development, as well as a source for developmental change o Developmental change occurs via the internalization of socially shared processes o Children initially perform cognitive tasks with support from social partners (between people involved in social interaction) and over time, are gradually internalized until children can perform tasks on their own (Within the individual) o Zone of Proximal Development  Distance between what a child can do independently, and what the child can do in interaction with an adult or more advance peer  Based on concept that children can reason and perform in more complex ways when receive assistance than on their own o To accurately characterize a child’s knowledge at a given point in time, it is essential to consider the child’s potential competence, as manifested in the zone of proximal development, as well as child’s actual competence in independent performance  Psychological Functioning is Mediated by Language and Other Cultural Tools o Human behaviour shaped by direct social interactions and by range of cultural tools available in time and place that development occurs o Cultural tools  Can be technical/physical or psychological  Language prime example of psychological tools  Used as a means for regulating behaviour, planning, remembering, and solving problems  Psychological tools influence way we organize and remember info  Include maps, diagrams, number systems, etc.  Can also be material artifacts o Appointment books, Abacuses, rosary beads, etc. o These sometimes become internalized and influence thought o Humans’ abilities to learn from social interactions, they are able to pool their cognitive resources and build on past achievements in ways that members of other animal species cannot  Cultural tools can be passed on to younger members of society  Ratchet Effect  Evolutionary process that applies to how cultural tools are passed on  Considered language to be one of the most important cultural tools  Claimed the moment when language becomes integrated with action is the most significant moment in the course of intellectual development  Language is a tool children can use to plan their actions, remember info, solve problems, and organize behaviour  Cultural Norms and Other People Influence Children’s Opportunities for Learning o Cultural norms influence many aspect of a child’s day-to-day activities  E.g. Infant care practices, child care arrangements, expectations about work, study, and play, etc. o Even among similar societies (e.g. industrial societies), the way that children spend their time show considerable differences  E.g. Comparing amount of time children spend playing between US, Korea, Russia, and Estonia, found that children from Korea spend most time playing while children from Russia spend the least o Within cultural framework, parents, teachers, etc. choose activities for the children that they deem appropriate  Can do this with explicit goals in mind (e.g. putting child in music lessons to foster learning) or without these explicit goals  Social and Cultural Learning Require Particular Cognitive Abilities o Most basic cognitive ability needed for social/cultural learning is ability to establish intersubjectivity  Shared understanding between people that emerges through processes of mutual attention and communication  Capacity for this emerges early (starting at about 2 months)  Children and caregivers begin to display contingent interaction  Reciprocal actions and reactions that resemble give-and-take of conversations  By 9 month’s children capable of following caregiver’s gaze or gestures  Establishes Joint Attention o State where they and their caregivers share a common focus, a key component of intersubjectivity  What is crucial in learning from social interactions is that humans’ ability to understand other people as being like themselves and having intentions and mental states like their own o Imitative Learning  Learning that involves reproducing another individual’s behaviour in order to achieve the same goal o Emulation  Learning that involves focusing on the end result of other’s behaviour without appreciation of relation between specific behaviour and intended goal o Instructed Learning  Involves direct, intentional transmission of info from one individual to another  Learner is attempting to understand the task or material from the teacher’s point of view  Formal (e.g. in school) or informal (e.g. parent teaching child a task)  Modern Empirical Research in the Sociocultural Tradition o Learning in interactions with adults  Adults often structure their interactions with children to foster learning  Adult’s role is to scaffold  Provide social scaffolding to support child’s task performance  Allows children to extend range of their activities and perform tasks that would have been impossible on their own
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