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

From: Emily Duvall <emily who-is-at>
Date: Sun Nov 18 2007 - 21:39:46 PST

Hi David,
My first concern is that test and assessment seem to be interchangeable.
Etymologically speaking, test comes from testum, or earthen vessel; akin
to testa earthen pot, shell whereas assessment comes from
assessus/assidere, to side beside, to assist in the office of the judge.
As such an assessment evaluates using careful determination through
review and study; it's about investigation. A test, on the other hand,
measures how much; it's about checking to see how full the vessel is.
With that in mind I agree with the impossibility of a 'test to predict
how test-taking behaviors can potentially change. However, I'm not sure
of your understanding of DA with a 'truncated ZPD'? I think your
definition of 'one learner plus one more able peer or one learner plus
one meditational means' is quite reductionist and misses the depth of
the roles of learner and assessor. Both learner and assessor must be
both learners and teachers so to speak to really engage in such a deeply
insightful and diagnostic process activity. I would add that the
assessor does not 'use' the ZPD but rather is engaged in the learner's
ZPD and in order to move the learner forward in their development one
must have an eye to the future. In true interactionist style for example
the end may shift as the activity moves forward according to the
learning going on.
The map is lost on me. As are the footprints. I guess, I'm just not
clear on your understanding of DA?
Maybe I'm just stuck on apples.
~ Em

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2007 8:12 PM
To:; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Streamed Discussion of Development in CHAT theory

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
  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 21:41 PST 2007

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