Learning and Socio-cultural Theory: Exploring Modern Vygotskian Perspectives International Workshop 2007


Traditionally in science education, research on young children’s thinking about the natural and physical worlds is categorised and explained in terms of the mental models or schemes they purportedly hold. Frequently informed by Piagetian or constructivist paradigms, their ideas are commonly described as being alternative, naïve, untutored, erroneous - or other deficiency model terms. However, when sociocultural theory is used to inform data generation and analysis, a different and more positive explanation of their thinking can be made. This paper will present a study that used firstly Rogoff’s (2003) three foci of analysis followed by aspects of Vygotsky’s (1987, 1997, 1998, 1999) theorising to inform the analysis of conversations with young children about the sun and rain. This provided an innovative way for considering how children develop ideas about the world. It also revealed that their thinking is often complex and powerful. Some implications for science education and for research with young children will be briefly addressed.

Abstract Format