Socio-Cultural Theory Glossary

1. Cognitive tools: Tools that are symbolic or at least partially symbolic or mental in nature that enhance children’s thinking abilities. Cognitive tools are culturally based, with different cultural passing along different tools. Students with different cultural backgrounds therefore end up having different cognitive abilities. For example, map reading skills only develop if a child is exposed to maps and reading maps, to find roads or locations, is a part of their everyday culture.

 2. Internalization: The process through which social activities evolve into internal mental activities. The progression from self-talk to inner speech is an example of internalization, Overtime, children gradually internalize adults directions so they they’re eventually giving themselves directions.

 3. The zone of proximal development: Developed by Vygotsky. The range of tasks that children can’t yet perform independently but can perform with the help and guidance of others. A child’s ZPD includes learning and problem-solving abilities that are just beginning to emerge and develop – abilities that are in an immature, “embryonic” form. A child’s ZDP progresses and changes over time.

 4. Scaffolding: A part of the ZDP process and a step in the apprenticeship process, the mentor or teacher provides various forms of support for the learner, perhaps by simplifying the task, breaking it into smaller and more manageable components, or providing less complicated equipment.

 5. Cognitive apprenticeship: An apprenticeship which shows novices how experts typically think about a task or activity. There are seven steps in apprenticeships: modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection, increasing complexity and diversity of tasks, and exploration.


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