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[Xmca-l] Re: Units of analysis



Thanks for the updates Mike and Alfredo. I very much look forward to the
contrasts.

David

On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 9:03 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
wrote:

> Hi David,
> that's so cool that you got to share your whole book open, even if only
> for a limited time. As Mike notes, many xmca'ers may be busy at ISCAR, but
> there will be time to get to your book/chapter in the aftermath. Unit of
> analysis is sure popping up here and there in each presentation, so we will
> come back with much material to contrast.
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> on behalf of mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
> Sent: 28 August 2017 23:23
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Units of analysis
>
> Hi David
>
> Alfredo and a number of potentially interested people are in Quebec City or
> on their way there to attend ISCAR.
> FYI
> Mike
>
> On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 10:15 AM David Dirlam <modesofpractice@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > Alfredo, Andy and others interested in the unit of analysis question.
> >
> > I'm working on getting a downloadable version of Chapter 1 of my book. In
> > the meantime, Routledge has added a link that will be open until
> September
> > 15 to my whole book, which is free on line but not downloadable.
> >
> > http://rdcu.be/tPjV
> > <
> > http://em.rdcu.be/wf/click?upn=KP7O1RED-2BlD0F9LDqGVeSKtaE-2Fqou1Q11U-
> 2FYg5cc50Q-3D_m4a-2BVtvVL0JudawDiUq5qdCZb5YjXonCfC9-
> 2F5OH6Lwi46jfFdV3eRXJoQnltaofLVswp4xfHbra6-2Bk4-
> 2FzC3ZWpOvYevDOzjaOyCqTG9ZJ-2ByPLdCGS0mIToo9PWMYPvsz4kJBEMe48mHE8Z1TJeexp-
> 2BVu9LE5LGVesjGGQqEiP-2BY6Rz8y-2BhIGYF3fb9H4E5XH6DA8HkH2dAUze
> 1hR81LEotVxE6l6JtNqAkckzIxG3is6fG0S2COgNgBLtvDXsWZ-
> 2FbqVosOKnHpflMyrUIeVsJzefjOywqItXYZ-2B9dMGIRi4-3D
> > >
> >
> > That first chapter has a well-developed and reliable definition of unit
> > ("mode of practice") that has worked in over 300 interviews of people in
> > roughly 100 different disciplines. That's not to say it couldn't be
> > improved. For example it complements Engestrom et al.'s concept of "germ
> > cell" in at least some very interesting ways. For one, ascending from the
> > abstract to the concrete (from sit-to-stand to household mobility actions
> > like table setting) complements Mezirow's (1991) phases of transformative
> > learning, so that the results looks more like collaboration between the
> two
> > than competition.
> >
> > In addition to that chapter the link above also gives an opportunity for
> a
> > free look at the rest of the book, including another chapter on unis.
> > Chapter 11 provides a nested hierarchy of units that was defined from
> > "modes of practice" at the middle down to the kinds of "germ-cell" units
> > that have been discussed in the last few weeks and up to extremely broad
> > scale units. The broad end is somewhat reminiscent of Mike Cole's
> > description of context based on Bronfrenbrenner's *Ecology of Human
> > Development, *as that which surrounds." Mike goes on to enrich this view
> as
> > a unit of culture. In ecology, the "surround" of a species is a
> community,
> > but communities are studied as units of ecosystems, much like cells are
> > studied as units of organ systems. Biology has made enduringly effective
> > use of its rich number of levels of units. The aim of the chapter is to
> > show some of the potential that such a rich conception of units might
> have
> > for research on practices.
> >
> > David Dirlam
> >
> > Author of Teachers, Learners, Modes of Practice: Theory and Methodology
> for
> > Identifying Knowledge Development (see www.routledge.com/9781138641181)
> >
> > On Sun, Aug 20, 2017 at 6:47 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no
> >
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Thanks so much David for bringing to the fore your ongoing chat with
> > Andy.
> > > The levels you describe are interesting. You mention a chapter; any
> > chance
> > > it could be shared with the list? I look at excerpts of your book
> online
> > > and the introductory chapter seems totally relevant to the unit of
> > analysis
> > > discussion.
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > Alfredo
> > >
> > > ________________________________________
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> >
> > > on behalf of David Dirlam <modesofpractice@gmail.com>
> > > Sent: 20 August 2017 23:38
> > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l]  Units of analysis
> > >
> > > It looks like I finally got my blank-emails problem fixed, thanks to
> > Andy's
> > > kind notification of what was the cause. I did a little off-line
> > > corresponding with him in the meantime and plan to share some of it and
> > add
> > > some to it.
> > >
> > > I found Andy's current and 2010 articles on Vygotsky's unit of analysis
> > to
> > > be fascinating and his comments during my xmca blackout very helpful,
> > even
> > > after spending 50 years work on the problem. I hope to join this
> > discussion
> > > of what I believe is one of the most central social science problems of
> > our
> > > age. So below I've put a brief synopsis of what I think people on xmca
> > > might find most useful from that work and invite comments.
> > >
> > > One of Andy's useful comments about units came through an xmca in
> > response
> > > to David Kellogg's suggestions. The introduction of features (father's
> > job,
> > > sibling number, etc.) reminded me of the attempts to evaluate higher
> > > education in the U.S. using graduation rates and job placements, a
> > tendency
> > > that I have been fighting for decades.
> > >
> > > Also, during my offline discussion with Andy, I mentioned a chapter
> from
> > my
> > > book that used biology as an analogy to define 11 levels of a nested
> > > hierarchy of practices. That was a project that I had been imagining
> for
> > a
> > > decade by tagging articles in Science that I thought would be useful
> for
> > > the purpose, especially in the context of many additional articles
> > > generated from library databases (though I wrote this chapter not even
> a
> > > year ago, it has had much value in helping to identify and talk about
> > what
> > > people do). The 11 levels ranged from an analog to the gene at the
> > bottom,
> > > which was quite similar to Vygotsky's sign-mediated action, since it
> > > combined activity with artifacts and social context. The next level up
> > (the
> > > cell analog), I called actuations, which add short-term memory to the
> > > bottom level, Luria's *Human Brain and Psychological Process *has many
> > > examples of both levels. Procedures that use several actuations (like
> > > recipes) were the next level. The units continue in similar nested
> > fashion
> > > up to the biosphere analog, that I called praxosphere.
> > >
> > > Andy replied that units do not have to be nested, and I fully agree. In
> > > fact nearly all the units I discussed have both defectology and social
> > > situation aspects. Since they are not nested like the ones in the
> > chapter,
> > > they need to be different sorts of units. The same occurs in biology
> > where
> > > competition and pathology occur at least at levels ranging from cells
> to
> > > biomes. Actually, Luria's book just mentioned would be a great place to
> > > identify examples of the first two or three levels of the hierarchy of
> > > practice I proposed in my book. His amazing observations of simple acts
> > of
> > > brain-damaged patients have been an inspiration to me for decades.
> > >
> > > The mid-level units (the analog to biology's species) that I proposed
> are
> > > modes of practice. I found these by studying dimensions of competing
> > modes
> > > of practices in children's drawing, student writing, and developmental
> > > researchers' methods. The first publication of a dynamic analysis of
> the
> > > drawing study was in *Mind Culture and Activity *in 1997. My language
> has
> > > changed during two decades of use of the ideas, but the kernels were
> > there.
> > > Dimension is the next more complex level of units above the modes of
> > > practice. The modes of practice in each dimension get sequenced by four
> > > parameters: their endemicity (initial prevalence), acquisition rate
> > (growth
> > > in frequency), and commitment (competitive strength), and their
> resource
> > > level (social acceptance or limited artifact availability). One pattern
> > is
> > > especially common: *beginning* modes are endemic, *exploring *modes are
> > > acquired very quickly but are not competitive, *sustaining *modes grow
> > > slower with more commitment, and *inspiring *modes have the highest
> > levels
> > > of commitment. Sometimes a *destructive *mode appears instead of the
> > > sustaining or inspiring mode -- these grow faster than exploration, but
> > > overshoot the resource level so much that they eliminate the whole
> > > dimension (drug use is a good example for persons). To transition from
> > one
> > > mode of practice to the next requires transformative learning, a
> concept
> > > that has benefited much from Mezirow's writings. A study with some
> > friends
> > > of 500 hour long sessions with individual students revealed that
> > Mezirow's
> > > 10 phases occurred in 4 time periods. The phases of commitment and
> modes
> > of
> > > commitment, therefore, became the fourth and fifth levels.
> > >
> > > An interesting aspect of the sequence for modes of practice is that it
> > lays
> > > out zones of proximal development for each dimension. I watched
> teachers
> > > use them that way 40 years ago with amazing results, especially for
> > student
> > > writing. I've had a harder time getting academics to do so. It makes me
> > > wonder how Vygotsky's discussion of zone of proximal development might
> > fit
> > > with the modes and phases of commitment.
> > >
> > > We can tell when we have two different dimensions, because all modes of
> > > practice within one dimension can occur simultaneously with any mode of
> > > practice in all others (i.e., there is no competition between them).
> So,
> > > when I have given this model to experts (300  altogether so far) and
> > asked
> > > them what people do who are learning in their area of expertise, over
> 99%
> > > readily describe the four or five modes of practice in 6-12 dimensions
> of
> > > their expertise. They often comment that it is an interesting way to
> > > organize their thinking about their field. My interest is that each
> > > interview results in somewhere between 15,000 (6 dimensions) and a
> > quarter
> > > billion (12 dimensions) patterns of practice but uses only 24-48 terms.
> > > When I did this for the entire faculty of a liberal arts college and
> > > combined dimensions that were similar, I ended up with 25 dimensions
> with
> > > 100 terms (these are detailed in the appendix of my book). They are
> > > incredibly more interesting and meaningful than graduation and
> > > job-placement rates. But, and this is what keeps me at it, they also
> have
> > > the potential to emancipate teachers and learners from the sort of
> > > bureaucratic hegemony that demands simple minded measures like job
> > > placement and graduation rates.
> > >
> > > Text analysis of the 25 dimensions (a technique I started working on at
> > > Mike's suggestion during my 1997-98 year at LCHC) also grouped
> dimensions
> > > together into clusters that resembled specialties (analog to biological
> > > communities) and these into disciplines (the analog to ecosystems). The
> > > next levels came from interviews of some 80 designers in 20 different
> > > disciplines at the Savannah College of Art Design. I never thought of
> > > design as a methodology as progressive as science, but those interviews
> > > convinced me. Now, it seems obvious: scientists record their progress
> in
> > > papers and equipment, designers in services and products. Interviews of
> > 60
> > > rabbinical scholars at Hebrew Union College then convinced me that
> > > interpretation was also progressive, but now recorded in precedents. So
> > the
> > > level above discipline (the analog to biome) became progressive
> > > methodology. Human knowledge, then, becomes the praxosphere or analog
> to
> > > biosphere.
> > >
> > > I'm not sure what Vygotsky would think about all this (I am sure that
> > many
> > > on this list know better than me about that), but I don't think he
> would
> > be
> > > nearly as upset as he seems to have been with reducing a child's
> > > environment to parent occupation, age, housing, sibling numbers, etc.
> > > Thinking about Vygotsky and Andy's papers does give me the idea that I
> > > should look back through all my interviews to see what meaningful
> objects
> > > and social environments they imply.
> > >
> > > I hope this adds to the discussion, and even more that it proves useful
> > for
> > > progress in studying what people do in ways that thwart simplistic
> > > reductions to graduation and employment rates. I'm off to read Yrjo's
> > paper
> > > next.
> > >
> > > All the best,
> > >
> > > David Dirlam
> > >
> > >
> >
>
>