Re: [xmca] double-stimulation method

From: Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch who-is-at>
Date: Thu Oct 09 2008 - 06:48:34 PDT

A light just went on for me. In the factory environment I was in,
because many operators were doing similar things and processes on
similar machines, it was possible to compare individual work styles
and approaches. For a number of years fairly inexperienced mill
operators were being transferred into my spar mill shop, and they had
to learn the skills and methods of the job over some years, so that
added still another aspect that could be compared (and let me tell
you, that was a common activity, especially by the next shift!).

Here is a distinction between the pseudoconcept and concept as Paula
describes Bacalarski:

> most users, compared to experts, are at the pseudoconceptual level,
> and that time
> and further developments are required before users achieve
> 'adulthood' as
> computer-literate users.

This may have a way to apply the concept of then pseudo-concept to a
factory, or any workplace. A key characteristic I saw over and over
among many mill operators in their initial years (some had a learning
curve that was longer that others depending on background, and
sometimes mechanical "talent" (whatever exactly that is) - including
myself in my first years there - were following rules without fully
understanding the consequences of each action they undertook. The
experienced operators who reached 'adulthood' were far more conscious
of all the things that were happening and would result from their
actions, such as how machining a part might make the part shift in the
clamping system. This in turn would drive how and when to check for
that, and how to readjust the part's position. The newer operators
would learn about these movements and memorize what they should do -
"hammer the part with the rubber mallet on the web side to get the
part to renest at the end of sequence 2000" might be a way the rule
would be articulated. Sometimes a note would be made to this effect
in the program document, an important booklet of the programmed
machine moves for that job. But if some little change in the process
that might make a difference in the way the part shifts comes up -
perhaps a change to a different order of cutting directions - the
tendency would be to just follow the same rule without looking at what
might be different. A consequence of this might be "undercutting" the
part in the next sequence - taking off too much material because the
part has shifted toward the cutter.

Another example is connected to an oddity in the controls that is a
kind of booby trap. If the machine is in auto mode (ready to run
programs), turning the cutters on with the cutter start button would
turn them either clockwise or counterclockwise according to the past
programmed instruction, but when the machine was in manual mode, using
the cutter start button would turn the cutters on the in the direction
the manual switches were set to. A cutter trying to cut a part
spinning in the wrong direction will scrap the $5,000 - $10,000 part
and could wreck the cutter and knock the spindles out of alignment,
all big headaches. Well, this happened to J. because he had turned
his cutters on manually while in manual mode, then switched to auto
and proceeded. The switches were backward from the correct rotation
and he entered with the cutters running backwards and hell broke
loose. He followed the rule about turning the cutters on before you
cut - that is another surefire way to cause a lot of damage, probably
worse than even running the cutters backwards - but he forgot to look
at the consequences of his action - watch how the cutters actually
spun as they turned on. He did not know the manual mode had that
booby trap, and he was sure that the cutters had no choice but to turn
in the programmed direction, so it didn't occur to him to watch the
cutters start up. Experienced operators will always watch the cutter
direction when they are turned on - they know you can't trust them to
alway turn the right way. It is also a good way to check if the right
cutters have been loaded. This incident happened to J. years ago.
The reason I remember it is that he still maintains to this day that
since he did not know about that manual mode switch position quirk, it
wasn't his fault.

I guess that could be considered fossilizing a pseudo-concept. How's
that for a turn of phrase? (Btw, J. got written up, which was unjust,
as that kind of discipline often is).

In a nutshell, the inexperienced operator, who perhaps is operating
with pseudo-concepts (I will have to try to think of examples of
complexes, that seems hard with adults - perhaps examples where they
don't know what they are doing but fumble around and act anyway?), is
focusing on following procedures and rules, whereas the experienced
operator who has a full conception of causes and effects and knowledge
about when to make observations and adjustments is following the rules
and procedures AND focusing on the consequences of every action, both
immediate and later on. Normally, the pseudoconcepter looks like they
are doing the same thing, but when little changes that make a
difference are introduced, the differences with the experienced
operators regarding how they think are revealed. To bring this back
round to the theme of this thread, perhaps the knowledge and
experience with the consequences of their actions by the experienced
operators would qualify as auxiliary stimuli, which the inexperienced
operators lack, bringing into play the concept of dual stimulation as
an explanation.

- Steve

On Oct 9, 2008, at 4:38 AM, Paula Towsey wrote:

> I came across several studies dealing with adult cognition and
> 'Vygotsky's
> complex framework', as you so aptly term it, Eric, when I was
> compiling my
> literature survey. Of these three, I found Vaughan's and Tuomi's to
> be the
> most fascinating.
> The 1980 studies include a remarkable paper entitled "Saussure and
> Vygotsky
> via Marx", where Genevieve Vaughan (1980/81) draws comparisons
> between the
> langue and the parole of a linguistic system with that of an
> economic one.
> She brings together meaning, money, labour, and culture, and
> provides an
> insightful discourse of Vygotsky's framework on conceptual
> development which
> covers the langue of four 'mutually exclusive signifiers' and the
> parole of
> coming to understand what certain culturally significant and relevant
> concepts mean. She also is of the opinion that two processes of
> polarisation are required for concept formation, where the first is
> between
> the sample as an equivalent and the other blocks as relative, and
> where the
> second is between the relevant and the non-relevant characteristics
> of the
> sample as well as those of the other blocks.
> Vaughan, G., (1980/81), Saussure and Vygotsky via Marx. First
> published in
> Ars Semeiotica 4:1 57-83. Amsterdam: C John Benjamins B.V. (My copy
> downloaded 2006/02/21 11:25 AM.)
> In the 1990s, several studies - Bacalarski (1996) and Tuomi (1998) -
> analyse
> or adapt the method of double stimulation to computer environments.
> Bacalarksi's tentative analysis looks at how novice users become
> more adept
> at using and understanding computers and she uses Vygotsky's
> findings on the
> paths to conceptual thinking for this analysis. She maintains that
> most
> users, compared to experts, are at the pseudoconceptual level, and
> that time
> and further developments are required before users achieve
> 'adulthood' as
> computer-literate users. Tuomi's paper is about an adaptation of
> the method
> of double stimulation in collaborative environments in the setting
> of a
> large mobile telephone manufacturer, and concludes that Vygotsky's
> theoretical framework provides better explanations for both
> individual and
> collaborative learning in corporate enterprises than do other kinds of
> models.
> Tuomi, I., (1998), Vygotsky in a TeamRoom: An exploratory study on
> collective concept formation in electronic environments, Nokia Group,
> Finland: Nokia Research Center.
> Bacalarski, M., (1996), Vygotsky's Developmental Theories and the
> Adulthood
> of Computer-mediated Communication: A Comparison and an Illumination,
> Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 34:1 57-63. Armonk,
> NY: M.
> E. Sharpe.
> Let me know if you need more info to track these down, okay?
> Bye for now
> Paula
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [mailto:xmca-
>] On
> Behalf Of
> Sent: 08 October 2008 09:03 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] double-stimulation method
> Hello Steve, welcome to the discussion. My best answer to that
> question
> would be to look at Sylvia Scribner's work study research that is
> available
> on the LCHS website. I believe you will find it imbedded in the LCHC
> newsletter. It is fascinating stuff. Of course the brilliant
> cross-cultural research of Dr. Michael Cole could also illicit quite a
> boatload of info. The rub is that neither Scribner or Cole used
> Vygotsky's
> complex framework for summarizing their work. Perhaps that makes it a
> nonfactor?
> eric
> Steve Gabosch
> <stevegabosch@me To: "eXtended Mind,
> Culture, Activity" <>
> .com> cc:
> Sent by: Subject: Re: [xmca]
> double-stimulation method
> xmca-bounces@web
> 10/08/2008 01:24
> PM
> Please respond
> to "eXtended
> Mind, Culture,
> Activity"
> Eric, Paula, others,
> Vygotsky's idea of complexive thinking in adults greatly interests
> me. What has been done so far with this in theory and research?
> - Steve
> On Oct 8, 2008, at 11:06 AM, wrote:
>> Hello Paula:
>> This is the aspect of your post that I would like to focus on:
>> 4. providing a snapshot of a 'complex'
>> Yes, they - the blocks - do. What is sometimes a bit difficult for
>> me to
>> impart to colleagues who haven't worked with the blocks is that
>> reading
>> about them, and then conducting an exercise with them, are very
>> (very)
>> different experiences. I suspect this to be true of most research
>> instruments - the thing about the blocks, though, is that the
>> solution is
>> deceptively simple - especially when you have found out what it is by
>> reading about it. In fact, this element - trying to keep the actual
>> solution a secret - got me into trouble in one of my first
>> submissions to a
>> major publication - precisely because I was hoping there would be
>> some
>> readers out there who wouldn't want to be told the whodunit - but
>> would
>> prefer to work it out for themselves.
>> But, to return to the 'snapshot', as you can see from my comments in
>> point
>> number three, a snapshot of complexes is gained - sometimes there are
>> combinations of them and what makes lots of the analysis really
>> challenging
>> is working out what is developmental, what is complexive in adults,
>> and
>> what
>> is idiosyncratic in everyone. Does this make sense, Eric?
>> Once again the idea of complexive thinking provides a structure that
>> is
>> flexible. Problem solving at any age can bounce from syncretic to
>> diffuse
>> to statistical to matching to chains and finally to conceptual. The
>> measure of what constitutes conceptual thinking, in my humble
>> opinion, lies
>> with the word being the unit of analysis. The beauty of Vygotsky's
>> complexes is that he states them as methods of achieving activities
>> and not
>> as stages of development that build upon each other. A person at
>> any age
>> may illicit any of the complexes by themselves or in unison with
>> another
>> complex. I believe what needs to be sorted out is what cultural
>> structures
>> illicit what complexes and what cultural and historical methods best
>> contribute to conceptual thinking. David Kellogg was correct when he
>> stated that the Japanese powerhouse of elementary education should
>> certainly be studied in depth to hopefully answer these questions.
>> eric
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