Cultural specificity in the guidance of children's metacognitive learning

Year: 1994

Author: Sanagavarapu, Prathyusha, Elliott, Alison, Relich, Joe

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Sociocultural theory situates development in cultural and historical settings. It supposes that children learn and extend the skills, values, and knowledge of their community through participation in culturally relevant activities with care givers and other adults. It recognises that enculturation helps determine the readiness of learners to pick up salient features of direct and mediated experience and guidance.

Children's progressive restructuring of cognition occurs by transforming cultural tools and practices through activity and interchange of ideas. Situations mediated by more capable members enable children to demonstrate skills and understandings that are in the process of being learned but not yet internalised for independent use.

Central to the construction of ideas, knowledge, and understanding in the early years are children's metacognitions and self-regulatory strategies. Recent research has highlighted the role of adult guidance in the development of metacognitions, and mediated action cannot be separated from the milieu in which it occurs. Accordingly, differences can be expected in mediational processes depending on the differences in environments or contexts. Each culture has its own system of norms and values which shapes the development of children. Cultural specificity then, in terms of interaction processes, would seem to determine the nature of guidance afforded by parents to their children.

In this paper we report on the nature of metacognitive guidance offered by mothers to their preschool children during puzzle completion tasks. The data are based on pilot work carried out with mother-child dyads in Australian and Indian families. The implications of this cross-cultural study for multicultural educational settings will also be discussed.