Microdevelopment: Transition Processes in Development and Learning

Microdevelopment: Transition Processes in Development and Learning

Microdevelopment: Transition Processes in Development and Learning

Microdevelopment: Transition Processes in Development and Learning

Synopsis

Microdevelopment is the process of change in abilities, knowledge and understanding during short time-spans. This book presents a new process-oriented view of development and learning based on recent innovations in psychological research. Instead of characterizing abilities at different ages, researchers investigate processes of development and learning that evolve through time to determine progressive changes. With contributions from the foremost researchers in the field, this study will be essential reading for all interested in cognitive and developmental science.

Excerpt

As the appearance of a volume like the present one attests, the growing use of the microgenetic method is in the process of transforming developmental research, focusing it on its true subject — change. Cross-sectional “snapshots” are not just limited in what they portray. More seriously, they may be misleading, since an individual's second encounter with a task may reveal an entirely different approach from a first encounter. the “dynamic assessment” over time that goes back to Vygotsky provides a more informative picture of how an individual functions. Extended over a longer time period, dynamic assessment merges with the microgenetic method. Strategies evolve with the exercise that comes from extended engagement, allowing observation of the change process — a process that presumably would take place in a similar way, although at a slower pace, in the absence of this dense experience.

In this pure form, the microgenetic method allows examination of behavior as it is reorganized simply as a consequence of its own functioning — a process we can assume is a common one in natural settings, since a great many behaviors do change in the absence of instruction or explicit feedback. in this form of the microgenetic method, which my co-workers and I began to use in the early 1980s as a means of studying mechanisms of change (Kuhn & Ho, 1980; Kuhn & Phelps, 1982), the only feedback individuals receive is that arising from their own actions. Other researchers have used the microgenetic method more in the vein of an extended training study, to observe and compare the effects of different kinds of environmental input over an extended period of repeated engagement with a task. in either case, we have the benefit of fine-grained observation of the evolution of behavior over time.

Although the empirical findings that microgenetic research has produced are both interesting and consequential, the single most striking thing about them is their consistency. This consistency has been maintained despite variations in methodology and despite the wide range of content areas to which the method has been applied. Consistency of this sort is unusual in developmental psychology, a field in which, increasingly, researchers have devoted their efforts to specialized topics and sub-topics . . .

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