News & Announcements
News & Announcements

Recent publications by SIG members

Penuel, W.R., & O'Connor, K., Eds. (2010). Learning research as a human science [Special issue]. NSSE Yearbook, 109(1). 

Abstract: A central premise of this volume is that the study of human learning is best understood as a human science. The human sciences include academic disciplines in the social sciences and some of the humanities (e.g., history), as well as interdisciplinary fields like education, whose objects of study are human action in its various contexts. The fundamental principles articulated in this book are: Foregrounding values in interpreting learning; Interpreting the scope and limits of agency of learners and researchers; Postulating the teloi of learning; Locating and expanding responsibility for deciding the teloi of learning.

Vygotsky on Education: Peter Lang Primer, Volume 30. Robert Lake. Peter Lang Publishers, 2012, 173 pages. ISBN: 9781433113550.

The Vygotsky on Education Primer serves as an introduction to the life and work of the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Even though he died almost eighty years ago, his life's work remains both relevant and significant to the field of education today. This book examines Vygotsky's emphasis on the role of cultural and historical context in learning, while challenging theories that emphasize a universalistic view of learning through fixed, biologically determined stages of development. Given our current preoccupation with standardized outcomes and the corporatization of schooling, Vygotsky's most important ideas about education need to be reconsidered. The primer provides an overview of his two best-known ideas: the zone of proximal development and the development of thinking and speech as a means of empowerment, and discusses Vygotsky's views of the roles of critical and creative imagination in the formation of personal agency and in creative collaboration. Applications to current practices from a wide range of sources clarify and promote relevance to diverse audiences. This primer presents the essence of Vygotsky's work in language that is accessible to all students of education.

Classroom Discourse and Democracy: Making meanings together. Susan Jean Mayer. (New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 2012, 211 pages). ISBN: 1433112868.

Classroom Discourse and Democracy: Making Meanings Together provides practitioners and scholars with a number of practical tools for realizing democratic learning environments within schools. The author, Susan Jean Mayer, draws on both Vygotskian and Piagetian developmental learning theory and on Deweyan democratic principles to theorize the importance of fostering all students’ intellectual agency and ‘interpretive authority.’ Three dimensions of knowledge are framed—foundational, expert, and personal—and the place of each of these dimensions in the construction of democratic classroom understandings is explored. Based upon a two-part analysis of the roles students played in a range of pedagogically diverse classroom discussions, three different forms of learning experience are then presented—teacher-led, student-led, and co-led learning. While all three forms of learning experience are seen as valuable to a fully realized democratic pedagogy, Mayer argues that most students, particular those living in poverty and those placed in lower track classes, need to be provided with more generous opportunities to experience the student-led and co-led forms.

Closing Chapters: Urban Change, Religious Reform, and the Decline of Youngstown's Catholic Elementary Schools, 1960-2006. Thomas G. Welsh.  Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2011, 340 pages). ISBN: 0739165941.

Closing Chapters is far more than a history of Youngstown and its parish grade schools. This is a well-researched study of the complex forces behind urban change in the decades after 1960—the impact of deindustrialization, surbanization, changing attitudes about education, the divisions among American Catholics, the tensions in society between white and black residents, among classes and ethnic groups. Thoughtful, well-written, and often moving, this book makes a significant contribution.—JoEllen Vinyard, Eastern Michigan University

The story of America's urban Catholic elementary schools in the latter stages of the 20th century is, to a considerable extent, one of decline and demise. Thomas G. Welsh has told the story of those schools in one of America's cities—Youngstown, Ohio—and he has done so with thoroughness and understanding. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding the complex social forces that enveloped those schools that led to their closure. — Thomas C. Hunt, University of Dayton

Closing Chapters attempts to explain the disintegration of urban parochial schools in Youngstown, Ohio, a onetime industrial center that lost all but one of its eighteen Catholic parochial elementary schools between 1960 and 2006. Through this examination of Youngstown, Welsh sheds light on a significant national phenomenon: the fragmentation of American Catholic identity.

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