Posts filed under: Descriptive Theories

Social Network Analysis (Scott, Prell)

Summary: Social Network Analysis looks at how people within social networks (for example: families, clubs, Facebook groups) relate to each other and what these interactions say about both the individual actors and the entire social network. Originators & Proponents: John […]

Flow (Csíkszentmihályi)

Summary: Flow is an optimal psychological state that people experience when engaged in an activity that is both appropriately challenging to one’s skill level, often resulting in immersion and concentrated focus on a task. This can result in deep learning […]

Actor-Network Theory (ANT)

Summary: Actor-Network Theory is a framework and systematic way to consider the infrastructure surrounding technological achievements. Assigns agency to both human and non-human actors (e.g. artifacts) Originator: Michel Callon (1991) and Bruno Latour (1992); John Law; others. Key Terms: actor, […]

Distributed Cognition (DCog)

Summary: Distributed cognition is a branch of cognitive science that proposes cognition and knowledge are not confined to an individual; rather, it is distributed across objects, individuals, artefacts, and tools in the environment.

Originators: Edwin Hutchins in the 1990s.

Key Terms: Cognition in the Wild, mind in the world, artefacts, environment, representational media

Distributed Cognition (DCog)

Edwin Hutchins, a cognitive psychologist and anthropologist, studied how navigation is coordinated on US navy ships around San Diego. From his observations, he posited that the mind is in the world (as opposed to the world being in the mind). That is, the necessary knowledge and cognition to operate a naval vessel do not exist solely within one’s head; knowledge and cognition is distributed across objects, individuals, artefacts, and tools in the environment. The goal of Distributed Cognition is to describe how distributed units are coordinated by analyzing the interactions between individuals, the representational media used, and the environment within which the activity takes place. The unit of analysis can therefore be described as systems that dynamically reconfigure their sub-systems to accomplish functions individuals, artifacts, their relations to each other (e.g. bridge of a ship, airplane cockpit, air traffic control). Distributed Cognition is about defining mechanisms of cognitive processes: e.g. memory in a cockpit encompasses internal processes, physical manipulation of objects, and the creation/exchange of external representations.

Activity Theory

Summary: Activity Theory is a framework or descriptive tool for a system. People are socio-culturally embedded actors (not processors or system components). There exists a hierarchical analysis of motivated human action (levels of activity analysis). Originator: Vygotsky, Leont’ev, Luria, and […]

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