Human ecology
Mathematics education
Psychology of learning mathematics
Notes - 21/3/00

Vygotsky - Problems of Method

(Background of current psychology) Stimulus-response experiments are sufficient for experiments on lower psychological functions.

Qualitative distinction between animal and human behaviour. (p.60) (Note: historical distinction - may be objectionable to some parts of ecology movement. Counterpoint Tepper: some humans behave like animals and some animals behave like humans.)

Engels: approaches to understanding human history. (p.60)

(Vygotsky's source: Engels "Dialectics of nature", p.172)

Stimulus-response methods in psychology are similar to naturalistic approaches in history. "Both see the relation between human behaviour and nature as unidirectionally reactive." (p.61)

Alternative methods are necessary for higher psychological functions. Vygotsky highlights three principles:

"The search for method becomes one of the most important problems of the entire enterprise of understanding the uniquely human forms of psychological activity. In this case, the method is simulateously prerequisite and product, the tool and the result of the study." (p.65)

Example: psychology of complex choice responses.

Usual theory considers that the response time in these experiments is equal to the arithmetic sum of the time of the simple reaction plus the discrimination plus the choice. Instead experiments show that times for complex choice and simple reaction experiments can be equal. One problem is the subjects need to learn the experiment. Early trials, (in which the learning process may be evident) are discarded in order of find an average response time for the activity.

Causal-dynamic method.

Vygotsky's conclusions.

Consequences for tests of divergent-convergent thinking.

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Created 22/3/00
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