Experimenting With Vygotsky.

One of the main pillars of learning, in my humble opinion, is critical thinking. Because we all know that solely relying on memorization of a rigid curriculum does not yield any productive results *cough*Egyptian educational system*cough* Students need to learn how to think not what to think. They need to actually experience the information and not just find ways to retain it until they pour it in an exam then forget all about.

That is what critical thinking does to the mind.
That is what critical thinking does to the mind.

When I first heard about this week’s assignment, which is to design an experiment as Piaget, Vygotsky, or Kohlberg, the first thing that came to mind was, “But I am no scientist!”. However, when I began to think about it, I realized that it is indeed the best way for us to know about these gentlemen’s theories and visualize how they could have planned their experiments back in the day.

Thus, I have chosen Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, which says that culture is an important facet to understanding learning and that children learn through interactions with their peers and their elders. This theory interests me the most because I have always been interested in children’s development and learning. Moreover, I believe that if children are quite flexible learners when they are young, and thus, we should provide them with the most attention so they can grow up to be effective and critical thinkers in the future. Consequently, I have decided to test an aspect of Vygotsky’s theory, namely assisted learning, which means that children learn best when they have the right environment and are provided with encouragement, clues to make the process easier for them.

The experiment I thought of would be as follows.

Hypothesis: If children are provided with thorough guidelines to solve a tough problem without encouragement, they will still be able to perform the task.

Sample: 7 to 9 years old

Gender: boys/girls *I am still not sure if it will be only boys or only girls; it will depend on which will be more accessible to me. Nevertheless, I would not want to have a mixed group because the dynamics of the group will be a bit different and some members might be shy from the other sex, so this is why I think the sample should include either females or males only.

Number of sample: 3 to 4 children maximum.

Method design: I will divide the children into two equal groups. For group A, I will give them a challenging task to do, yet I will provide them with thorough steps and guidelines on how to achieve it on paper. This group will have no teacher to explain the task to them. They will just be asked to solve the task, given the instructions, and that is it. The teacher will not encourage them or guide them in any way. For group B, they will receive an easier task, but with much less detailed instructions. However, a teacher would be present with this group to give them subtle hints and acknowledge and encourage them whenever they do a step correctly.

Possible limitations/weaknesses: I still have not actually about how to find this number of children within the coming two weeks. Moreover, I am a bit concerned that because I am altering more than one variable in the experiment, namely the kind of task and the presence of the teacher or not, will influence the validity of my experiment.

I believe this experiment will help me test an integral part of Vgotsky’s theory because I will get to observe whether the role of the teacher as one who enhances and progresses children’s learning is important to their learning or not. Because if children can achieve good learning without the inclusive role of the teacher, then we would have to consider a lot of what we know about the learning paradigm.

I hope this experiment helps me find out. Fingers crossed!

-All images are hyperlinked to their original sources.


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