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Scaffolding Children’s Learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education Laura E. Berk and Adam Winsler Presented by Vanessa W. Chang.

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Presentation on theme: "Scaffolding Children’s Learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education Laura E. Berk and Adam Winsler Presented by Vanessa W. Chang."— Presentation transcript:

1 Scaffolding Children’s Learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education Laura E. Berk and Adam Winsler Presented by Vanessa W. Chang

2 Chapter 1: Vygotsky: His Life and Works Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896-1934) Born in Orsha, Byelorussia Developed sociocultural approach: “an attempt to understand how social and cultural influences affect children’s development” p. 4 “Troika” of Vygotskian school of thought: Vygotsky, A.R. Luria and A.N. Leont’ev Influenced by Marxist ideals: created Marxist theory of psych. and child development

3 Vygotsky’s Major Works The Psychology of Art, 1925 Consciousness as a problem in the Psychology of Behavior, 1925 Educational Psychology, 1926 Historical meaning of the crisis in Psychology, 1927 The Socialist alteration of Man, 1930 Primitive Man and his Behavior, c. 1930 Mind and Society, 1930 Adolescent Pedagogy, 1931 Play and its role in the Mental development of the Child, 1933 Thinking and Speech, 1934

4 Chapter 2: Vygotsky’s Approach to Development: The Social Origins of Individual Mental Functioning Socially shared cognition “[H]umans are inherently social and communicative beings” p.13 Social Embeddedness of Cognitive Skills: Social Interaction (example: conservation of liquid problem) Social Embeddedness of Cognitive Skills: Task and Setting Conditions (children’s learning is contextualized) Social Engagement as a Stimulus for Cognitive Development: Piaget: conflict between peers promoted cognitive restructuring Vygotsky: not who (adult-child or child-child) but how children engage in joint activity important to cognitive development.

5 The Importance of Language “All higher mental functions--those that are unique to human beings--are initially created through collaborative activity; only later do they become internal mental processes.” p. 20 Mediation through Signs: Vygotsky’s views: Signs are critical link between social and psychological planes of functioning. Signs are socially generated, not biologically given or individually constructed. Internalization: A.k.a. “appropriation” (Rogoff): children choose from cultural tools encountered during social collaboration to fit goals.

6 The Zone of Proximal Development The ZPD: “[T]he distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.” p.26

7 The ZPD ZPD originally introduced in context of arguing against tests of standard intelligence and achievement. Vygotsky saw standardized tests as limited, only measuring “static” knowledge, whereas a child’s potential is much greater, and human cognition is dynamic and ever- changing. According to Vygotsky, the role of education is to provide children with activities and experiences in their ZPDs, challenging them, but allowing eventual success with sensitive adult or capable peer guidance. In educating children, it is important to give them tasks slightly above their current levels or abilities to inspire them to reach for the next level.

8 Scaffolding Scaffolding: “a changing level of support in which assistance is adjusted to fit child’s current abilities and needs. Fosters child’s autonomy and mastery skills.” p. 171 Goals: Joint Problem Solving: socially shared cognition Intersubjectivity: two participants who begin a task with different understandings arrive at a shared understanding. Learning takes place with shared understanding. Warmth and Responsiveness:emotional tone of guidance is important. Children learn more when they are supported and encouraged to do so. Important for adult to be engaged in process. Keeping the Child in the ZPD: Structure task and surrounding environment. Adjust amount of adult intervention to child’s needs (not too much or too little). Promoting Self-Regulation:Requires adult to relinquish control and assistance as soon as child is able to work independently. The zone of executive function.

9 Scaffolding Adult “distancing strategies”: Low-level (ref to objects and events in immediate environment) Medium-level (comparing, contrasting, relating) High-level (elaboration of ideas, concepts) Research on Scaffolding: Study of 3-year olds in mother-child collaboration on classification and story- sequencing indicates that the more mothers praised children, the better they performed when working on the task by themselves. Authoritative parenting (as opposed to “authoritarian” or “permissive” parenting) : a “democratic approach” which encourages independence within limits negotiated between parent and child. Note on Scaffolding: Can be positive mode of interaction with children, but perhaps needs elaboration and modification at times--in past, too much emphasis on instructional component and goals. Cultural context of scaffolding limited to Western cultures, further study needed.

10 Children’s Private Speech “In talking to themselves, children build a bridge between their social and psychological worlds as they strive to become competent, autonomous beings.” p. 49

11 Views on Children’s Private Speech Vygotsky’s Views Critical of Piaget’s findings, Vygotsky countered: Children use private speech more often when working on difficult tasks A pattern to private speech: peaks at middle to end of preschool years Private speech does not become more social with age, it is internalized. The more opportunities for social interactions, the more private speech occurs. Social and private speech go together. Piaget’s Views 3 types of private speech: repetition (syllables and sounds) monologues (verbal soliloquies) collective monologues (soliloquies in presence of others) Viewed private speech as “egocentric”, “ineffectual social speech”

12 Varieties of Children’s Private Speech: Egocentric Communication Fantasy Play Emotional Release Describing One’s Own Activity Reading Aloud Inaudible Muttering

13 How does scaffolding promote private speech in children? With an adult to regulate the difficulty of a task, the child stays in the ZPD (challenged, but still motivated) Scaffolding can bring a task to the verbal level, and language becomes a key problem solving tool Through scaffolding, children can learn self- regulation skills.

14 Chapter 3: Play in Vygotsky’s Theory “[P]lay creates a zone of proximal development in the child. In play, the child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as thought he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development.” (Vygotsky)

15 Development and Significance of Play Vygotsky: “Wherever there is an imaginary situation, there are rules.” Play creates an imaginary situation that permits the child to grapple with unrealized desires (delayed gratification as compares with immediate gratification typical in behavior and treatment of infants) Play contains rules for behavior (even the most simple of creatiive play situations includes social rules) Make-believe supports a child’s ability to separate thoughts from actions and objects (a wooden block becomes an ice-cream cone), and supports the capacity of the child to renounce impulsive actions in favor of deliberate and self-regulatory activity.

16 Impact of Imaginative Play on Development General Cognitive and Social Skills: Studies show that imaginative play can enhance cognitive abilities. Memory: List-like and narrative memory enhanced through fantasy (research on acting out a story heard in class) Language Many areas of conversational dialogue used in play Reasoning Creative play can allow for flexibility in thinking, imagination stretches logical skills. The Boundary Between Appearance and Reality Practice in transforming real objects or experiences into pretend gives children opportunities to distinguish between appearance and reality.

17 Scaffolding Children’s Play Play occurs with children and their peers and also with children and adults. Mothers/primary caregivers are children’s first “collaborators” in play, and are highlighted until around age 3. Adult-child play can be beneficial, but the adult must be sure not to take over the play. Allow child room to be in ZPD. Peer play becomes prominent as child enters school and interacts with other children. Intersubjectivity and shared understanding are required for peer play.

18 Chapter 4: Children with Serious Learning and Behavior Problems Vygotsky’s Approach to Children with Special Needs Vygotsky believed that the original disability of child is not so much a problem as the way the disability alters the way the child can participate in sociocultural activities Lack of participation in these activiities can hinder development of higher mental functions, such as self- regulation. It is most important for children with learning and behavior problems to improve social interactions with adults and peers.

19 Children with Sensory Deficits: the case of deaf children Vygotsky viewed blind and deaf children as having particularly challenging situations, as language is so important to social interactions. Example: deaf children with deaf parents vs. deaf children with hearing parents Sign language

20 Children with Self-Regulatory Problems Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): In line with Vygotsky’s sociocultural perspective, ADHD can be seen as problem involving self- regulation. Application of Vygotsky’s theory began in 1960s (self-instructional training) for impulsive/hyperactive children, teaching children private speech in hopes to form self-regulation skills Results disappointing, task specific if anything

21 Adult-Child communication and children with ADHD ADHD: studies show evidence of biological and environmental factors Parenting not found to be primary cause of ADHD, but adult-child interactions can reinforce behavior Studies on parent-child interactions and children’s private speech with children with ADHD: Children used more private speech in working on problem with experimenter than with parents, who tended to control actions of child

22 Private Speech of Children with Self- Regulatory Problems Studies show: Children with self-regulatory problems (hyperactivity, impulsive behavior) tend to use more overt, vocal private speech than their peers without behavior issues In addition to using more task-relevant private speech ADHD children tend to use more irrelevant and off-task comments Children with ADHD use fewer internalized forms of self-speech than peers Private speech of ADHD children less strongly related to task than private speech of peers who don’t have ADHD

23 Enhancing Educational Environments for Children with Serious Learning and Behavior Problems How do we meet the educational needs of all children, including those who have serious learning and behavior issues? In the case of children with ADHD and similar problems, scaffolding is important, and not often used with ADHD children Specific directive efforts: expectations clear and highly consistent, follow through and praise all shown to improve child’s behavior and strengthen child’s self-esteem. All adult-child interactions need to be worked on (parents, teachers, etc.): scaffolding, working in the child’s ZPD and giving opportunities to develop and practice the skills necessary in sociocultural context.


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