Sociocognitive Conflict and Cultural Diversification: Problems and Strategies for Teachers

Year: 2008

Author: Adam, Raoul Joseph

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper offers a conceptual analysis of the dynamics of "sociocognitive conflict" (Doise & Mugny, 1984) in an educational context as a consideration for managing cultural diversification. Understood in developmental literature (e.g. Doise & Mugny, 1984; Druyan & Levin, 1996; Perret-Clermont, 1980; Tudge 1989) sociocognitive conflict is the result of a contradiction or mismatch between the cognitive operations an individual applies to a situation and the sociocultural conventions that contextualise the situation. Cultural diversification entails increasing exposure to different sociocultural conventions and practices. Within the educational context, the classroom is especially conducive to sociocognitive conflict. This is because diverse sociocultural conventions embedded in pedagogy and curriculum content meet relatively frequently with the developmentally sensitive cognitive operations of individual learners. Given the evidence that sociocognitive conflicts can facilitate or debilitate development (Tudge, 1989), the dynamics of sociocognitive conflict raise important questions in educational contexts: What are the key dynamics that affect sociocognitive conflict as a positive or negative influence on development? What pedagogical strategies can help manage sociocognitive conflict to facilitate development amid increasing cultural diversification? Is cognitive development always a desirable outcome of sociocognitive conflict?

In this paper, I identify some of the dynamics surrounding sociocognitive conflicts that may affect developmental trajectories amid cultural diversification. I also identify and provide examples of three complementary strategies for positively managing sociocognitive conflict in the classroom. These include, (i) Metacognitive strategies that engage students directly with the cognitive operations needed to coordinate otherwise opposing binaries arising through cultural diversification, (ii) Experiential strategies that engage students with self-representations of "the other", and (iii) Integrative strategies that provide opportunities for collaborative problem solving through interaction between diverse cultural perspectives. Collectively, these strategies aim to facilitate development in response to increasing cultural diversification.