Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT theory

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Sun Nov 18 2007 - 20:11:40 PST

You didn't miss much, Mike! Paul attacked the use of the word "agency", and nobody was willing to defend it.
  Let's try a new direction instead. On Saturday, as it happens, I went to hear Professor Bachman, who signed the rejection letter you got for the AERA mini-course. He's an assessment wallah in language teaching, and he gave one of these airport talks that can be given to anyone and no one on any day of the week in any city on earth (a pity, because we just had a very high stakes college entrance exam here in Korea, always accompanied by at least one suicide).
  In the discussion, I tried to extend his idea of "generalizeability" (that is, the idea that test results are predictive in some way of behavior outside of the test taking) to the FUTURE--dynamic assessment, of course! Professor Bachman couldn't see that there was any problem there at all, because the ability to learn is, as we all know, a form of aptitude, and aptitude is simply another construct which can be sampled and modeled by statistical means.
  On the way home it occurred to me that it is in principle impossible for a test to predict how test-taking behavior can POTENTIALLY (as opposed to actually) change, even if we take (as dynamic assessment usually does) a severely truncated view of what a ZPD involves (one learner plus one more able peer or one learner plus one mediational means). It's in principle not possible to use the zone of proximal development to predict how the zone of proximal development itself will develop.
  I think that there are some disadvantages to the way in which Professor Engestrom talked about the ZPD (in particular, the only reference to internalization seems to be the ability to move around independent of the starting point, which is something that is possible without internalization, e.g. using a map). But I think his "footprints in the forest" image catches this limitation extremely well. It is possible to use extant footprints to predict future footprints, but it is not possible to use footprints to predict future trails.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Sun Nov 18 20:13 PST 2007

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