Educational Psychology: A cultural psychological and semiotic view

Year: 1998

Author: Smith, Howard A.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Traditional educational psychology is distinguished by its focus on measured behaviour of individual performances and on generalizable findings. However, an alternative perspective exists that is concerned with the ongoing meaning-making of both individuals and groups within sociocultural constraints. This alternative perspective, which may be considered as cultural psychological and semiotic in nature, is concerned more with understanding phenomena than in establishing causal relationships among discrete variables. The focus of this latter perspective is on mediation using cultural signs, on historical development over time, and on human psychological functions that arise from practical activity in specific contexts. Standard topics such as learning, motivation, and intelligence may be examined in this way. Examples will be given of the research questions and methods typical of a semiotic educational psychology.