There and Back Again: A (Reversed) Vygotskian Perspective on Digital Socialization
Digital transformation of human mind is on the agenda in both cognitive and personality psychology. There is a number of approaches in cognitive science addressing the question how humans create culture, but less approaches address the issue of how culture transforms our ‘natural’ cognitive functions. One of such approaches, the cultural-historical psychology, was proposed almost a century ago by Vygotsky. This paper aims at demonstrating how Vygotskian framework, and his concepts of cultural mediation and the zone of proximal development in particular, could be used to understand cognitive development in the digital world. I argue that digital technologies transform the course of cognitive development as outlined in Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychology. First, socialization is not internalization any more, as our cognitive functions become externalized again due to the use of new digital ‘tools of the mind’, in agreement with the Extended Cognition framework. Second, an adult doesn’t set the ‘zone of proximal development’ for a child any more, with this function being entrusted to digital devices, similarly to how the Material Engagement Theory treats evolution of the first prehistoric tools. I demonstrate that, whereas digital technologies challenge cultural-historical psychology, it might provide new insights into cognitive development in the digital context.
The author refl ects upon the book The Sources of cultural-historical psychology: philosophical-humanitarian context by V. Zinchenko, B. Pruzhinin, T. Schedrina. Moscow, 2010.
The field of cultural-historical psychology originated in the work of Lev Vygotsky and the Vygotsky Circle in the Soviet Union more than eighty years ago, and has now established a powerful research tradition in Russia and the West. The Cambridge Handbook of Cultural-Historical Psychology is the first volume to systematically present cultural-historical psychology as an integrative/holistic developmental science of mind, brain, and culture. Its main focus is the inseparable unity of the historically evolving human mind, brain, and culture, and the ways to understand it. The contributors are major international experts in the field, and include authors of major works on Lev Vygotsky, direct collaborators and associates of Alexander Luria, and renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks. The handbook will be of interest to students and scholars in the fields of psychology, education, humanities and neuroscience.
Essay on the theory of consciousness in Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychology
The chapter discusses convergence in the development of cognitive science (emergence of such new research areas as embodied cognition, embedded cognition, emotional cognition, distributed cognition and new studies in cognitive development) and the fundamental principles of cultural-historical psychology.
Information-based society requires adaptation of its educational system to the challenges of modern life. Among them the major challenge is the one posed by a constantly increasing amount of information that causes a significant shift in educational paradigm. That means that now the success of a professional person depends not only and completely on the formal education they get but on the ability to use information for solving problems in rapidly changing circumstances of a digital environment. Such ability is closely linked with the development of sophisticated thinking, and, in our view, foreign language classes provide the best range of opportunities for that. Since learning a foreign language is based on a text, it inevitably leads to the development of critical thinking of students. In this respect, the text in a foreign language is the most provoking, as it activates the zone of proximal development.
In our ongoing project we focus on the relationship between the text work during foreign language classes and the development of the key competences in our students. For that purpose, we are conducting a qualitative study. With regard to the mentioned point, the second-year students of the Higher School of Economics were divided into two groups. Throughout the academic year the first group is to follow the communicative approach in their English classes, while in the other teaching is to be conducted according to the text-based one. Every three months we measure the level of the development of critical thinking in both groups to compare the success of both approaches. Among the tools of measurement we use the tasks that look at the students’ ability to generalize, logically restructure and creatively use big amounts of information in a new landscape. So far the results collected from both groups indicate that the students working with texts are developing features of critical thinking more actively than the other group. We hope that in the long run the registered results will serve as one of the foundations for reconsidering emphasis in teaching the humanities.
The article presents a review of foreign research studies of the possible effects of bilingualism on different aspects of cognitive development of an individual and on the process of the third language acquisition. Such effects are viewed as positive ones by most authors.
Combinatorial abilities are fundamental to experimental thinking. The aim of this work was to design didactic objects that will stimulate preschoolers’ experimental thinking and to study young children’s thinking in relation to these objects. Six heuristic rules for the design of didactic objects are specified, and the responses of 623 children aged between 3 and 7 to the didactic objects are described in this paper. The first two calculating devices required rods to be pressed simultaneously for successive windows to be lit up or made visible. A total of 30 five year olds played with these for 20 minutes, and were seen to perform a logical series of actions in order to understand the device’s function. Half of the children counted the presses and thereby understood the way the device functioned. The second device was designed to allow all possible combinations of four variables. Sixty children between the ages of 4 and 6 played with the device for 20 minutes. A total of 88% of the children found all possible combinations of the device, with no differences between age groups in the strategies used. The third device had a matrix of shutters opened by buttons arrayed along two edges. In the first mode, single buttons presses opened the nearest windows and button presses along both edges opened windows on coordinates determined by the two buttons. In the second mode, single button presses opened nothing and simultaneous button presses along two edges opened windows on coordinates determined by the two buttons. Ninety children between the ages of 5 and 10 played with the device in the second mode for 20 minutes. The children used scientific strategies to discover the device’s function in the following proportions: 20% at five years, 50% at six years and 93% at 10 years. Eighteen children between the ages of 4 and 6 played with the device in the second mode. They played in pairs, and each child was assigned a row of buttons, thus requiring co-operation to open the windows requiring two coordinated button presses. All the children were eventually successful in the joint experimentation. The fourth device had 16 windows and eight buttons, which lit up the windows when pressed in logical combinations. A total of 20 five-year-old children were trained on this device to use combinations of button presses to light up selected windows. These children were then allowed to explore the third device in second mode by themselves. The trained five year olds all used scientific strategies in their search for the third device’s combinations. The study showed that preschoolers can combine actions and discover hidden relationships, and that the didactic objects can be used to develop children’s thinking.
The distractive effects on attentional task performance in different paradigms are analyzed in this paper. I demonstrate how distractors may negatively affect (interference effect), positively (redundancy effect) or neutrally (null effect). Distractor effects described in literature are classified in accordance with their hypothetical source. The general rule of the theory is also introduced. It contains the formal prediction of the particular distractor effect, based on entropy and redundancy measures from the mathematical theory of communication (Shannon, 1948). Single- vs dual-process frameworks are considered for hypothetical mechanisms which underpin the distractor effects. Distractor profiles (DPs) are also introduced for the formalization and simple visualization of experimental data concerning the distractor effects. Typical shapes of DPs and their interpretations are discussed with examples from three frequently cited experiments. Finally, the paper introduces hierarchical hypothesis that states the level-fashion modulating interrelations between distractor effects of different classes.
This article describes the expierence of studying factors influencing the social well-being of educational migrants as mesured by means of a psychological well-being scale (A. Perrudet-Badoux, G.A. Mendelsohn, J.Chiche, 1988) previously adapted for Russian by M.V. Sokolova. A statistical analysis of the scale's reliability is performed. Trends in dynamics of subjective well-being are indentified on the basis the correlations analysis between the condbtbions of adaptation and its success rate, and potential mechanisms for developing subjective well-being among student migrants living in student hostels are described. Particular attention is paid to commuting as a factor of adaptation.