Constructing Identities - Developing Skills: Cases of Workers with Poor Literacy Skills

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Learning and Socio-cultural Theory: Exploring Modern Vygotskian Perspectives International Workshop 2007, Vol: 1, Issue: 1, Page: 1

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Kell, M.
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The Vygotskian concept of a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) has been explored extensively in school education settings as a means of determining cognitive change. Evidenced in settings characterised by social activity ZPDs are present in the cognitive process that occur when humans interact in and with their natural or man made environments. While most research around ZPDs concerns classrooms, particularly in the early years, this paper reports on a study of nine workers who self-report literacy difficulties. The study investigated whether the artefacts of as well as the human interactions that take place in the workplace merged in ZPDs to enhance the cognitive process. Results demonstrate a quite particular set of human and man made factors that result in new skills in solving novel problems in the workplace. Further the study illustrates how cognitive skills develop into adulthood and result in enhanced concepts of identity. Implicit in this process is recognition of a range of multiple literacies. The study concludes that Vygotsky’s notion deserves reconceptualisation for learning settings that Vygotsky did not consider.