Vygotsky, Physical Education and Social Interaction

By Ussher, Bill; Gibbes, Chris | Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, July 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Vygotsky, Physical Education and Social Interaction


Ussher, Bill, Gibbes, Chris, Journal of Physical Education New Zealand


Abstract

The notion of student-centred learning is embedded within the Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum statement (Ministry of Education, 1999). Turning this notion into practice, however, requires teachers to be aware of relevant theories of learning. One theory that supports the principles of student-centred learning is provided by Vygotsky, whose work is in the field of literacy learning, provides the theory that supports the principles of studentcentred learning. In this article we consider the general principles of Vygotsky's learning theory, and their possible application to physical education. We then explore the role of, and implications for, the physical education teacher in using Vygotsky's work to underpin several appropriate teaching models that are commonly used in New Zealand secondary schools. We conclude by affirming the usefulness of combining the learning theory and the teaching models, and assert that teachers must be constantly responsive to such 'new' understandings in teaching and learning if they are to enrich students' experiences in physical education.

Introduction

Knowledge is a cultural artefact, in that we produce it, share it, and transform it as individuals and as groups. The sites of this knowledge activity include family and wider whanau groups, schools and classrooms, and other social settings such as sport and recreation. The knowledge created through social interactions at these sites forms the basis of our culture, and as Andrews and Lupart (1993) suggest `culture and the intellectual tools it produces [are] the primary elements that shape and make possible advanced cognitive development in the individual' (pp. 108109). Vygotsky based his work on the importance of these socio-cultural dimensions, and of language, as `important characteristics of formal schooling and learning' (McInerney and McInerney, 1994; p.73). Vygotsky theorised about learning and in particular he `sought to integrate historical and psychological processes into a united theory of human consciousness' (Andrews and Lupart; 1993; p.103).

Vygotsky's developmental theory is co-constructivist, since students construct meaning through the social interactions, language and culture of their total learning environment, with the teacher and significant others assuming cooperative roles in guiding the learning experiences. Vygotsky places the teacher in a more functional role than did Piaget, recognising the importance of the teacher and student forming positive relationships. These views clearly relate to the notion of student-centred learning, and provide a framework that prompts the physical education teacher to think beyond traditional teaching styles and methods, and to provide relevant and meaningful contexts for student experiences.

In this article we first discuss Vygotsky's conceptual framework, then consider appropriate models and strategies currently available that might lend themselves to implementing his learning theory in a physical education context, and, finally, explore implications for teachers of physical education. We emphasise that teachers must be constantly responsive to new understandings in teaching and learning if they are to apply such principles effectively to programmes in a specific curriculum content area, such as physical education.

Conceptual framework

There are five underlying concepts of Vygotsky's work that permeate his writing and theorising: higher mental functioning; the role of language; mediation; cultural influences, and the zone of proximal development.

Higher mental functioning

McInerney and McInerney (1994) uphold that a `central theme in Vygotsky's theory is that cognitive development can be understood as the transformation of basic, biologically determined processes into higher psychological functions' (p.99), such as the internalising of visual experiences. There are two levels of this higher mental functioning.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Vygotsky, Physical Education and Social Interaction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?