Sociocultural Theory

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Sociocultural Theory

Alyssa PritchettID: 3526183879EDUC 518 - 27931Professor HydeUSCOctober 17, 2014TAP #3

Sociocultural Theory

Theory Summary:

Learning cannot be separated from culture or context in hisory. Focuses on 2 concepts:1. Zone of Proximinal Development (ZPD)2. Cultural mediation (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013).


Russian theorist who has the most influence on this theory. -arugues that the social dimension is more important than the individual dimension (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013).-believes semotics (tools that facilitate the construction of knowledge) are essential in mediating human action (especially language)-critical of Piaget's theory that believed learning is external and constrained by development. He instead proposed that learning is internalized and is an essential process in fostering develpment (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013). -The Zone of Proximal Development is one of his greatest contributions to the theory, which is the distance between the actual and potential levels of learning. He argues that good learning comes before development (not after!) and lies in the middle of the ZPD between actual and potential (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013). -The concept of Guided Participation builds off of the ZPD and focuses more centrally on the connection between caregiver and children interactions and the fact that "guided" does not necessarily mean face-to-face or tactile (language) - as Vygotsky claims. It can include both didactic and non-verbal forms of communication (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013)

Dynamic Assessment is a central part of Socio-cultural Theory. -concerned with how well a learner performs when provided assistance (scaffolding) - unlike traditional measures of assessment (which underestimate the learner's abililty to learn in an area they previously did poorly in) (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013).

Goal of instruction: develop an inquiry-based approach, where teachers and students are co-inquirers, where the teacher mediates when necessary (scaffolding). Because of this, there is a great emphasis on the student's culture and prior knowledge when directing learning (multi-modal approach)(Scott ' Palinscar, 2013).

Theory Application:video: Problem Solving Under Pressure (

Theory in Action #1: INQUIRY-BASED APPROACH:-Teachers and students are co-learners-Example in video: Teacher has them write down their challenges - what they did not know ' write why it failed (learn value of learning from failure)-Learning occurs through interaction, negotiation, and collaboration.-Teachers and students are co-inquirers but teachers also mediate among students to help guide learning.-Meaning emerges from collective thinking.(Scott ' Palinscar, 2013).

Theory in Action #2: SCAFFOLDING: -important aspect of Vygotsky's view-the process by which the adult (or other child) supports the child in a task, offering suggestions or filling in bits of info, until the child can accomplish the task by him or herself (Hearron ' Hildebrand, 2010). -Example in video: The teacher gives the students a bag of tools to use in order to build a structure that will successfully "plug" up the "oil spill." He also gives them a hint of to how to solve the problem. The 2nd time around he shows them the end product, and they have to take what they got from the end result and work backwards to figure out what the right method is.

CLASS OBJECTIVE:The student will be able to create a device using applied physics principles to get the ping pong ball in the bucket in one shot. Under the taxonomy table, this would fall under the "procedural knowledge" and "create" category.

Lesson Redesign:

1. Integrate an educational video game where they can design their product on the computer and test it through trial and error. This multi-modal approach is believed to be an analytical tool to help create new skills and habits of mind (Scott ' Palinscar, 2013). 2. Before they begin trying on their own, the teacher could show a short video about the physics behind the lesson they are learning to help spark some ideas (scaffolding and multi-modal approach). Scaffolding is the process by which the adult (or other child) supports the child in a task, offering suggestions or filling in bits of missing info, until the child can accomplish the task alone (Hearron ' Hildebrand, 2010). 3. After the groups failed the first time, he could mix up the groups or have them all work together on one to try the second time around (increase the social construction of knowledge). Scott ' Palinscar in the article, “Sociocultural Theory,” explain that learning occurs through interaction, negotiation, and collaboration. ASSESSMENT: The teacher can assess learning by informally measuring the improvement made between each group's first experiment (little scaffolding) and the second experiment (greater scaffolding) as well as the quality of "reflection" that each group made on what worked and did not work.


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