The role of classroom mediation in young children's problem solving

Year: 1996

Author: Ashton, Jean

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Quality student learning is accomplished in a variety of sociocultural contexts, most especially at school, within the family, and amongst peers. In western society formal learning has become synonymous with institutions such as preschools, schools, colleges and universities. Institutionalised learning within these contexts, and the methods employed to impart assessable knowledge have therefore become the focus of much research over many years. Although a great deal of this attention has been directed toward improving outcomes for primary, high school and even university students, it must be remembered that the early childhood years are also important, indeed they may even constitute the most critical period for the development of cognitive behaviours in young children. Children are at the very threshold of what is likely to be twelve years or more of formal, school based learning. Frequently, the behaviours learnt in the early childhood years impact greatly on the motivation, approaches to learning and eventual outcomes of children as they progress through their school years. This paper, drawn from a PhD study, looks at aspects of the learning behaviours of children in these early childhood years. Even five year olds, in their very first year of school have been found to display attitudes toward learning which are likely to influence their perceptions as they progress into the more demanding school years. Considerable research (Bruner, 1985; Elliott, 1995; Fleer, 1995; Rogoff, 1990; Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1985) has shown that the environment within which students learn, and the way teaching is effected has critical implications for the way children learn.