ERIC Number: ED293999
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Head and Hand: An Action Approach to Thinking. Occasional Paper No. 3.
Much research has focused on cognitive skills in isolation from daily life and from action. However, memory and thinking in daily life are not separate from, but are part of, doing. This study is based on a theoretical framework that encompasses an integrated account of mind in action. This "activity theory" holds that neither mind as such nor behavior as such can be taken as the principal category of analysis in psychology. The starting point and primary object of analysis is the actual process of interaction in which humans engage the world and each other. This study used observation of assemblers carrying out their jobs of filling milk cases in a dairy plant under normal working conditions. Descriptions resulting from these observations enabled the creation of job simulations to observe performance under more constrained conditions. The observation of workers and later of secondary school students in simulated situations showed that the workers acquired nonliteral least-physical-effort strategies simply through doing. Many reached optimal performance without teaching. The study found that in some circumstances, the operations of the hand are functionally equivalent--the head takes over for the hand. The study suggests that practical thinking is orderly, that it exhibits certain common characteristics in a variety of life activities, and that it is amenable to scientific understanding. (KC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center on Education and Employment, New York, NY.
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association (Arlington, VA, April 11, 1987).