Rethinking assessments: Creating a new tool using the zone of proximal development within a cultural-historical framework

1.2 Children's development and childhood
Paper presentation on PhD Day
11:00 AM, Monday 28 Aug 2017 (30 minutes)
This dialogue paper will present an ‘analysis through a cultural-historical lens’ of the data collected when applying a new child development assessment tool to teacher’s assessment practices in early childhood education. Vygotsky’s collected works (1987- 1997) and the cultural-historical legacy disputes the philosophical and methodological perspective of development as innately determined, and the correlating assessment approaches from this perspective. This research proposes a new cultural-historical assessment tool, in line with Vygotsky’s ‘general law of cultural development of higher mental functions’ and ‘genetic research methodology’. The zone of proximal development concept is embedded as a theoretical tool to differentiate the two levels of children’s actual and potential development. The principle of interaction of ideal and real form is used as an experimental tool, under the assumption that development is impossible without this interaction. This congruent system of principles and concepts enabled a cultural-historical framework to guide the research. To generate the data, video footage of three focus children was compared to their teachers’ weekly assessment of their learning and development. Interviews with teachers unpacked their theoretical knowledge, which informed their assessment practices, revealing a predominant developmental approach to assessing development. Through collaborating and co-researching with teachers, a new cultural-historical assessment tool was developed and applied to assessment practices. Video footage of the focus children was then retaken and compared to the teacher’s assessment using the new tool. 
Monash University
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