Difference Between Sociocultural Theory And Constructivism

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Sociocultural theory and constructivism are two learning theories that are often pinned against each other. Sociocultural theory focuses on the interactions between people and the culture that they live to learn (Steiner and Mahn, 1996). Constructivism suggests that because individuals are not blank slates new knowledge is constructed by building upon prior knowledge and experiences (Brandsford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000). Additionally, sociocultural theory can take on different approaches such as zone of proximal development and tools and mediation. At the sight of observation, the learning activity was a guided reading lesson. This reading activity was designed for a small group of four students, led by a teacher assistant. The primary goal …show more content…
Sociocultural theory suggests that individuals are deeply shaped by history and society. Within the classroom setting, sociocultural theory relies on learning through apprenticeship and teaching as assisted performance (Tharp and Gallimore, 1989). On the other hand, constructivism often includes, but not limited to a hands-on activity, group work, and teachers acting as facilitators. When comparing constructivism and sociocultural theory, constructivism is portrayed as students working as little scientists and discovering the world as they learn, while sociocultural theory is analogous to an apprenticeship (Enyedy, 2016). Sociocultural theory emphasizes novice-expert interaction and culture in shaping development, while constructivism emphasizes peer-to-peer interaction and independent exploration (Rogoff, 1990). Whereas constructivism stresses the importance of a change in perspective, sociocultural theory stresses a development of skills (Rogoff, …show more content…
As opposed to constructivism, without sociocultural theory students would not be able to learn how to read without an expert. The zone of proximal development is defined as, “the distance between the child’s individual capacity and the capacity to perform with assistance” (Tharp and Gallimore, 1989, p.30). With the exception of innate things, just about everything we know how to do, or come to learn is learned from an expert or someone with greater knowledge. In this activity there is an expert and novice relationship; the TA is the expert and the students are the novices. The TA is the expert reader and she is teaching her students the strategies they need to reach this same capacity. More specifically, the three steps of ZPD are seen in the flashcard activity, group reading, and individual silent reading (Field Notes, p.2, lines 55-62). Assisted performance is seen as the group and TA work together to sound out words. As the expert, the TA sounds out and points at the words to model or demonstrate the tools students should use, to mediate reading. Unassisted performance is seen when the students read to themselves. During this part of the activity, students continue to point at words while they read, but also try sounding out words on their own, as previously modeled by the TA. Ultimately, it is difficult to tell if the students successfully internalized these tools in

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