Essay: Vygotsky’s activity theory
Vygotsky’s Activity theory, derived from a constructivist orientation, is better known in the United States as situated cognition. It combines the individual and the social (including culture and history) in understanding an activity such as learning (Merriam, S.B. 2007). Merriam stated, “Activity theory, “conceptualizes learning as involving a subject (the learner), and object (the task of activity) and mediating artifacts” (p.292). In 1978, Vygotsky was credited with the with developing the foundation of this view because he proposed that learning is socially mediated through a culture’s symbols and language, which are constructed in interaction with others in the culture.
Through interpretation between ones personal beliefs in contrast to others, they will have a better understanding of their selves and the role they play in context with their society. Like Vygotsky, other constructivists believe that learning is a process of constructing meaning. Using the activity theory adults can communicate impersonally through their sharing their actions and the results of a particular activity. This in turn will help them make sense of their shared experiences and come to a better understanding of what happens when performing a particular action or activity. Merriam (2007) states, “All forms of constructivism understand learning to be an active rather than passive endeavor. Consequently, learning occurs through dialogue, collaborative learning, and cooperative learning (p.292). Gergen (1995) further states, “One learns through engaging, incorporating, and critically exploring the views of others, and new possibilities of interpretations are opened through the interaction” (p.34). Utilizing constructivist learning theories such as Vygotsky’s activity theory, when communicating with others about shared learning experiences, one is able to learn and construct a deeper meaning of oneself holistically.
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