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Www.helsinki.fi/yliopisto MOVING FORWARD WITH ACTIVITY THEORY: IDEAS AND CHALLENGES AFTER ISCAR 2011. Jaakko Virkkunen Center for Research on Activity,

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Presentation on theme: "Www.helsinki.fi/yliopisto MOVING FORWARD WITH ACTIVITY THEORY: IDEAS AND CHALLENGES AFTER ISCAR 2011. Jaakko Virkkunen Center for Research on Activity,"— Presentation transcript:

1 MOVING FORWARD WITH ACTIVITY THEORY: IDEAS AND CHALLENGES AFTER ISCAR Jaakko Virkkunen Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE)

2 Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE) OBSERVATIONS IN ROME The focus of the congress was not in activity theory and even less in work activities Many papers about child psychology, preschool and school education Some very good and interesting psychological studies in Vygotskian tradition (development of will in ontogeny, application of Vygotsky and Bakhtin in aphasia therapy

3 Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE) ACTIVITY THEORY AS TOOL, OBJECT, AND TOOL AND OBJECT OF RESEARCH In several papers, Yrjö’s model of activity system was used as a tool in the analysis of school education, teacher training, and the use of ICTs in these as well as in the analysis of other work activities. My impression is that the use of activity theoretical concepts as a tool in these studies has not contributed much to the further development of these concepts.

4 ACTIVITY THEORY AS TOOL, OBJECT, AND TOOL AND OBJECT OF RESEARCH Osasto / Henkilön nimi / Esityksen nimi4 Not many papers had activity theory as the object of research, that is, critique and/or development of the theory. There were some papers clarifying and interpreting Vygotsky’s ideas, for instance Elena Kravtsova’s explanation of ZPD P=possibility instead of proximal and the relation of ZPD to scientific concepts. No papers in which the activity theory and the concept of activity (Leont’ev, Lektorsky, Engeström) would have been the object of critique and development

5 Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE) Second generation activity theory Changing structures of human activities ACTIVITY THEORY AS TOOL, OBJECT, AND TOOL AND OBJECT OF RESEARCH

6 Osasto / Henkilön nimi / Esityksen nimi6 THE NEW WAVE OF SOCIALIZATION OF PRODUCTIVE FORCES Industrialization: from individual, tradition-based activities to industrial organizations applying increasingly empirical research and scientific knowledge. Currently: Objects that meet human needs are increasingly configured and produced in a collaboration between several organizations (activity systems) Digital media revolution has created a wealth of new forms of mediation of actions and activities

7 Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE) CONCEPTS PROPOSED IN ROME TO COMPLEMENT ACTIVITY THEORY Yuji Moro – Park Dongseop: Horizontal (spatial) and vertical (historical) mediation Shuta Kagawa: Cross Contextual Practices Giuseppe Ritella – Maria Ligorio: Chronotope

8 Osasto / Henkilön nimi / Esityksen nimi8 Much work has been done and is going on in CRADLE to build the third generation of activity theory Yrjö’s analyses of co-configuration and knotworking Kai’s et al’s studies on the digital mediation of school learning Reijo’s new project on knowledge modeling in construction industry can also be seen as a study of a new form of mediation on inter-activity level Hanna’s work on network learning and Hannele’s work on boundary crossing

9 THE MEANING OF THE THIRD GENEATION OF ACTIVITY THEORY The classical problems of activity theory like concept formation, motivation, will and agency, as well as developmental teaching (formative intervention) has to be studied in a new societal context paying attention to new forms of mediation. This calls for re-evaluation and re-vitalization of the basic concepts and ideas of activity theory Osasto / Henkilön nimi / Esityksen nimi9

10 Connecting new developments to the roots of the original activity-theoretical ideas 10 1.Generalization and concept formation Yrjö’s research idea of studying concept formation ”in the wild” and the related initiative of studying the creation of integrative concepts expand the concept of concept, and relates it to the object of joint, distributed activity probably problematising and elaborating it. 2.Revitalization of the idea of double stimulation Yrjö, Annalisa and Anne 3Revitalization of the idea of ascending from abstract to concrete in the Change Laboratory intervention Yrjö, Annalisa

11 GOING FORWARD WITH MATERIALISTIC DIALECTICAL METHOD 11 Activity theory is based on a materialistic interpretation of dialectics. Canadian neuropsychologist C.M.J. Braun analyzed in 1991 the way Vygotsky, Luria, and Leont’ev used the concepts of abstract and concrete in their studies of generalization and concept formation and concluded, that they operated with the traditional idealist interpretation of these concepts. Davydov had made the same observation a few years earlier on the basis of Iljenkov’s analysis and explicated a dialectical materialistic understanding of abstract and concrete. Multidisciplinary Newsletter for Activity Theory. 4. vol 1991, p

12 Osasto / Henkilön nimi / Esityksen nimi12 Brown wrote: The theoretical questions which must be posed are: How does ascension to the concrete occur? How do the historical, logical, and psychological trajectories intermesh in this process? How do the various forms of practice (concrete activity) evolve phylogenetically, ontogenetically and historically up to and including the very highest types of consciousness?

13 DWR and the Change Laboratory method as means for producing answers to Brown’s questions. They help to write a new chapter to the studies of historical, qualitative change in forms of generalizing and thinking (Vygotsky, Luria, and Tulviste) Osasto / Henkilön nimi / Esityksen nimi13

14 TWO MORE CHALLENGES 14 There is in Leont’ev’s theory of activity an ambivalence related to individual and collective or joint activity. An action can be part of a joint activity but also of a sustained individual endeavor, in which the community, the division of labor and rules are not so clearly identifiable and present as in a system of joint productive activity. The use of Yrjö’s model has to my mind somewhat overshadowed the idea of individual activity and its analysis and the dialectics between individual and joint activity. DWR and CL have been based on separate research and development projects. However, unofficially there has also been long term relationships of collaboration between researchers and work organizations. So there are sprouts of new forms of developmental inter-organizational developmental collaboration that should be developed further and studied.


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