[xmca] Re: LCA: Activity Theory

From: Gordon Wells (gwells@ucsc.edu)
Date: Thu Jun 30 2005 - 11:22:49 PDT

>Eric wrote:
>I do know most of the problem lies in my behavioristic training but
>nebulous ideas and lengthly descriptions that sound nice are a hard thing
>to support when so many educators are hell bent on test scores. I don't
>think test scores are the answer but then what? How could the triangle be
>applied for an individual? Should it be? Once again Phil I like your
>summary of Activity Theory, it points to the usefulness of how Activity
>Theory is a useful tool for social theorists when discussing how it is
>people interact and accomplish activities.

Engestrom gives a couple of examples of how an individual (himself)
and then a group (participants at a conference) might engage in
actions within a joint activity: that of developing activity theory.
You can find this in the first chapter of Engestrom et al (Eds)
Perspectives on Activity Theory (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

But very little work in activity theory addresses the interaction
over time of participants in an action, in which goals are negotiated
as the action proceeds through talk and other media, including
gesture, body posture as well as artifacts such as texts, computers,
etc. I tried to develop a way of describing an example of this kind
in my paper in MCA, The role of dialogue in activity. In it, I
include the attached diagram to show two (or more) subjects bring
their individual mediating resources to bear on the same object to
produce a joint outcome and, in the second diagram, how this can
represent working in the zpd when one of the participants who has
greater relevant assists the other and provides an occasion for
appropriation. While the diagram is static, the analysis of the
interaction attempts to capture the emergen nature of the
participants joint action. Perhaps this would be relevant for yhour
work, Phil.


Gordon Wells
Dept of Education,		http://education.ucsc.edu/faculty/gwells
UC Santa Cruz.

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