02.03.2021 Scaffolding and Micro-ZPD: an exciting discussion with Anna Shvarts and Michael Cole

On March, 2th, the fourth webinar of the project “ReadingLive: Moscow CHAT Reading Club” was held on-line, bringing together around 80 participants from all over the world.

The presentation “Scaffolding as an embodied process within student-teacher functional system” was delivered by Anna Shvarts, Researcher at Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

In her presentation, the invited expert discussed a paper «The early history of the scaffolding metaphor: Bernstein, Luria, Vygotsky, and before» (by Anna Shvarts and Arthur Bakker) and expanded it further, focusing on empirical and historical data. The paper uncovers the origins of the scaffolding metaphor and its connections with Nikolai Bernstein’s prominent work on the physiology of activity. Authors argue that the scaffolding process between a student and a teacher is an inter-personal level of a universal process of the embodied functional systems’ development. Anna Shvarts discussed metaphors of scaffolding a bridge and “vrashivanie” as seaming, thus providing alternatives to scaffolding a building and interiorization as “in-growing”. The invited expert also expanded on the concept of micro-zone of proximal development as an actual-genetic mechanism of effective scaffolding, that was illustrated by empirical data (micro-analysis of a student and teacher’s eye-movements involved in scaffolding while solving a maths task).

The presentations was commented by Michael Cole, Emeritus distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego.

The discussion was moderated by Olga Rubtsova, PhD, Head of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Contemporary Childhood.

Relevant materials:

Shvarts A., Bakker A. (2019) The early history of the scaffolding metaphor: Bernstein, Luria, Vygotsky, and before, Mind, Culture, and Activity, 26:1, 4-23, DOI: 10.1080/10749039.2019.1574306

Video of the webinar is available below:


About the project

“ReadingLive” is a scientific and educational project, operated by Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Contemporary Childhood and International UNESCO Chair “Cultural-Historical Psychology of Childhood” with the International Journal “Cultural-Historical Psychology” and the University project “Vygotsky’s Library”.

The project is aimed at psychologists, educators, researchers, students and all those interested in Cultural-Historical Psychology and Activity Approach. “ReadingLive” is a special setting, where people from all over the world are invited to read and discuss both classical and contemporary works, written in the framework of the Cultural-Historical Psychology and Activity Approach. Project moderators  are Olga Rubtsova  and Anna Shvedovskaya.

The project will continue its work, inviting for further dialogue and exchange of experience.

Videos of the previous webinars:

28.01.2021. P.Y. Galperin’s Development of Human Mental Activity: implications for practice and research.

30.11.2020. From the concept of ZPD to the practice of dynamic assessment.

12.10.2020. The Urgency of Agency



Russian Psychological Issues: PsyJournals.ru

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