Re: [xmca] Situated cognition vs. Socio-cultural theory

From: Mary K. Bryson (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2006 - 17:15:04 PDT

So a little context -- I am working on an online course that already exists,
and that I have undertaken to revise, called, "The Design of
Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments." I am starting the course with a
discussion of major theories of "mind", constructivism, and related
instructional designs, with exemplary cases -- I have chosen Carl Bereiter
and Marlene Scardamalia's Knowledge Forum/CSILE, and Seymour Papert's LOGO
to talk about the kinds of tech learning environments cognitive
psychologists have designed, and 5th Dimension, for socio-cultural theory
and theorists.

If you start somewhere in the middle of the period I am looking at (70s to
90s) you find the Situated Cognition paper by John Seely Brown, Allan
Collins, & Paul Duguid. Situated cognition work can sound a lot like
sociocultural work when both camps of theorists are writing about the
conditions within which significant educational activity takes place.
Sometimes it seems to me as if the most significant difference is the
emphasis, maybe most clearly articulated in Lave/Wenger, that "learning
involves the production of persons" -- which I see as treated as problematic
in sociocultural work, and teleologically in situated cognition work, where
it is recognised that the kinds of relations to knowledge that prevail in
those interventions *are* culturally produced and normative, but the goal
instructionally is to figure out how to produce more of that good stuff,
like "knowledge building".

And so I was hoping to find a lucid explication of these trajectories, and
some people have suggested things for me to read. Thanks for that.

Kevin gets into this in the fine chapter currently under discussion where he
contrasts cognitive apprenticeships with cultural production. <NOTE: I had
not read Kevin's paper when I posted my message so this has proven a
fortuitous coincidence. I would have more clearly articulated my question
had I read the paper. But my current project of course authoring and
attendant "production" challenges, entails an absolute prohibition on
"extracurricular" reading.>

On 7/11/06 7:11 PM, "Mike Cole" <> wrote:

> Hi Mary!
> So nice to see your voice. Could you elaborate on the idea that
> socio-cultural theory
> (who fits there?) and "situated cognition are separated but related
> trajectoriies". Who do you
> count as the ancestors of the two related but separate trajectories? How are
> they related?
> I find this whole area of interest very difficult to parse.
> mike
> On 7/11/06, Mary K. Bryson <> wrote:
>> Hi All,
>> I am working on a course syllabus, and thinking about the separate but
>> related trajectories of situated cognition and socio-cultural theory. At
>> some point in the early nineties, lots of former cognitivists started to
>> sound a lot like socio-culturalists. So where do these two trajectories
>> intersect and where do they remain forever apart?
>> Someone may have written a really great review article or chapter that
>> compares these two theoretical perspectives. If you know of such a text,
>> could you let me know? I will so appreciate that.
>> Mary
>> ---------------
>> Dr. Mary K. Bryson, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator, ECPS,
>> Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
>> Online Hyperlinked CV:
>> Research Profile
>> _______________________________________________
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