Constructivism in Education

By Leslie P. Steffe; Jerry Gale | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Discourse and Learning in the Classroom: A Sociocultural Approach

James V. Wertsch
Chikako Toma
Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology
Clark University

The claim that learning and development are inherently social is very much in the limelight these days. Instead of restricting our focus to the isolated individual when studying cognition and other forms of mental processes, we have come to realize that key aspects of mental functioning can be understood only by considering the social contexts in which they are embedded. To many practitioners in education, this is hardly news. Yet a great deal of educational and psychological theory still is ill- equipped to deal with this issue in any serious way.

One of the reasons for the weak theoretical underpinnings in this area is that focusing on the social constitution of mental functioning requires us to cross disciplinary boundaries. Instead of viewing this as a barrier, however, we believe that it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to integrate methods and bodies of knowledge that have been artificially separated by disciplinary boundaries, and it is an opportunity we cannot ignore if we are to be serious about how theory and practice in education can inform one another.

We address this set of issues by employing a "sociocultural approach to mediated action" ( Wertsch, 1991). A fundamental claim of this approach is that mental functioning is assumed to be inherently situated with regard to cultural, historical, and institutional contexts. Thus, it focuses on issues such as how the thinking of Japanese and American children differ when approaching a problem, how the arithmetic calculation procedures used by today's pupils differ from those used by pupils 50 years ago, or how


Notes for this page

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
Cite this page

Cited page

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

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Constructivism in Education
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

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
/ 582

matching results for page

Cited passage

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?