Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

On Scientific Status and Practical Significance of One Psychological Theory

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

On Scientific Status and Practical Significance of One Psychological Theory

Article excerpt

Since the late 1950s, a significant number of authors (both researchers and practicians) tried to use Galperin's approach (which is well-known as The Theory of Planned Stage-By-Stage Formation of Mental Actions, or the PSFMA Theory) to improve schooling processes and results. Studies concerned the very different kinds and types of schools (primary, secondary, vocational, special schools). Subjects (learners) were ordinary, disabled, and gifted children of different ages (from 5 to 18) and adults. Specific domains were also very different: writing and arithmetic, native and foreign languages, math, scientific and humanitarian disciplines, drawing, music, physical training. At last, psychologically heterogeneous structures were the objects of planned stage-by-stage formation: separate specific domain mental actions and connected with them concepts and representations; groups and systems of actions and concepts; actions that underlie cognitive as well as metacognitive strategies and heuristics.

Looking back at the fifty-year history of Galperin's approach, one may note that the 1960s and early 1970s were the periods of the great optimism concerning effectiveness and efficiency of its practical application. Indeed, it seemed to be possible to transform radically the way and the traditional results of the learning/teaching process. As it has been convincingly demonstrated by hundreds of experimental and applied studies, the whole set of main objectives that any schooling is aimed at could be fulfilled: (a) it is ensured the guaranteed acquisition of the educational course practically by all the learners (all, of course, who have the necessary level of preliminary needed knowledge and skills) without the prolonging (sometimes - even with reducing) of the time allocated to it, and practically without any additional costs; (b) the division into the acquisition of knowledge and its application is minimized or even disappears; (c) the learners acquire abilities to transfer to a new situation: not only knowledge and skills are being formed, but also the way of acquiring; (d) the learners get more and more interested in the very processes of acquiring knowledge and in knowledge itself, because they are aware of the newly formed abilities (Galperin, 1989a; 1989b; Talyzina, 1987).

However, to compare the 60s-70s and 80s-90s publications one could easily discover a significant decrease of a wave of optimism concerning the PSFMA's application. Moreover, anyone being familiar with the current situation of school education can hardly discover the PSFMA's really extensive practical applications in contemporary schools as well as in schools of the nearest past. Of course, there were and there are a lot of interesting experiences in different parts of Russia and outside of it, which demonstrate the successes, failures and problems of the PSFMA's practical usage; however a scale of the usage is rather limited.

Besides the obvious social-economic and social-psychological reasons there exists one more reason of a methodological nature concerning the ways and means of the Galperin's approach use. Historically, it has been established that in most psychological research conducted along the lines of the approach discussed, the substantial pedagogical results of planned stage-by-stage formation of mental actions first came to the fore. However the proponents' enthusiasm about really unusual and hopeful results had a reverse side: it led to the serious misunderstanding of the status of Galperin's approach. Sometimes the approach is interpreted not as a general description of laws and regularities which try to explain the dynamics and results of human mental activity formation, but rather as a set of technologies and prescriptions how to teach. Indeed, such an interpretation distorts the reality and transforms the approach to some "absolute" knowledge like a sort of "philosophers' stone".

One should not forget that any scientific research ("pure" scientific or practically oriented study) is always based on a system of abstractions accepted. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.