Activity Theory Basic Concepts And Applications Pdf

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At a later time it was advocated for and popularized by Alexei Leont'ev. Some of the traces of the theory in its inception can also be found in a few works of Lev Vygotsky ,. It became one of the major psychological approaches in the former USSR , being widely used in both theoretical and applied psychology, and in education, professional training , ergonomics , social psychology and work psychology.

The objective of the tutorial is to introduce attendees to Activity Theory, a general theoretical framework for the analysis of human and communal action in the world. After an overview of the theory, focus shifts to how this framework can be utilized in practice.

The objective is to explore activity theory as a suitable interdisciplinary theoretical framework, where to place the social, pedagogical and technological elements of blended learning in higher education and considering the adoption and effectiveness of blended learning, constituting the new normality, in the current context of presence and intensive use of digital technologies in education. It concludes on the international validity of the theory of activity and its permanent transformation and historical evolution from its origins to the present day, it allows to transcend the individual character towards a collective character, adequately representing the social, technological and historical-cultural elements present throughout the formative activity. Media-rich digital learning platforms, personalized or adaptable courses and web conferencing tools, capable of connecting students to synchronous distance activities, are becoming common solutions for blended learning BL learning projects ALEXANDER et al. This trend is confirmed in the study by Alexander et al. In this scenario, we face the challenge of addressing this emerging context in educational institutions, based on their possibilities for change and research, from a theoretical and methodological perspective that addresses the complexity and multidimensionality of new realities.

Activity theory

At a later time it was advocated for and popularized by Alexei Leont'ev. Some of the traces of the theory in its inception can also be found in a few works of Lev Vygotsky ,. It became one of the major psychological approaches in the former USSR , being widely used in both theoretical and applied psychology, and in education, professional training , ergonomics , social psychology and work psychology.

Activity theory is more of a descriptive meta-theory or framework than a predictive theory. It accounts for environment, history of the person, culture, role of the artifact, motivations, and complexity of real-life activity. One of the strengths of AT is that it bridges the gap between the individual subject and the social reality—it studies both through the mediating activity. The unit of analysis in AT is the concept of object-oriented, collective and culturally mediated human activity, or activity system.

This system includes the object or objective , subject, mediating artifacts signs and tools , rules, community and division of labor. The motive for the activity in AT is created through the tensions and contradictions within the elements of the system. The object of activity theory is to understand the unity of consciousness and activity.

AT is particularly useful as a lens in qualitative research methodologies e. AT provides a method of understanding and analyzing a phenomenon, finding patterns and making inferences across interactions, describing phenomena and presenting phenomena through a built-in language and rhetoric.

A particular activity is a goal-directed or purposeful interaction of a subject with an object through the use of tools. These tools are exteriorized forms of mental processes manifested in constructs, whether physical or psychological. AT recognizes the internalization and externalization of cognitive processes involved in the use of tools, as well as the transformation or development that results from the interaction.

The origins of activity theory can be traced to several sources, which have subsequently given rise to various complementary and intertwined strands of development. This account will focus on three of the most important of these strands. The first is associated with the Moscow Institute of Psychology and in particular the "troika" of young Russian researchers, Vygotsky, Leont'ev and Luria. Vygotsky founded cultural-historical psychology, a field that became the basis for modern AT; Leont'ev, one of the principal founders of activity theory, both developed and reacted against Vygotsky's work.

Leont'ev's formulation of general activity theory is currently the most influential in post-Soviet developments in AT, which have largely been in social-scientific, organizational, and writing-studies rather than psychological research. The second major line of development within activity theory involves Russian scientists, such as P. Anokhin and Nikolai Bernstein , more directly concerned with the neurophysiological basis of activity; its foundation is associated with the Soviet philosopher of psychology Sergei Rubinstein.

Bedny and his associates. After Vygotsky's early death, Leont'ev became the leader of the research group nowadays known as the Kharkov School of Psychology and extended Vygotsky's research framework in significantly new ways.

Leont'ev first examined the psychology of animals , looking at the different degrees to which animals can be said to have mental processes. He concluded that Pavlov's reflexionism was not a sufficient explanation of animal behaviour and that animals have an active relation to reality, which he called "activity".

In particular, the behaviour of higher primates such as chimpanzees could only be explained by the ape's formation of multi-phase plans using tools. Leont'ev then progressed to humans and pointed out that people engage in "actions" that do not in themselves satisfy a need, but contribute towards the eventual satisfaction of a need. Often, these actions only make sense in a social context of a shared work activity.

This led him to a distinction between "activities", which satisfy a need, and the "actions" that constitute the activities. Leont'ev also argued that the activity in which a person is involved is reflected in their mental activity, that is as he puts it material reality is "presented" to consciousness, but only in its vital meaning or significance.

Activity theory also influenced the development of organizational-activity game as developed by Georgy Shchedrovitsky. AT remained virtually unknown outside the Soviet Union until the mids, when it was picked up by Scandinavian researchers. The first international conference on activity theory was not held until This resulted in a reformulation of AT. Kuutti notes that the term "activity theory" "can be used in two senses: referring to the original Soviet tradition or referring to the international, multi-voiced community applying the original ideas and developing them further.

The Scandinavian AT school of thought seeks to integrate and develop concepts from Vygotsky 's Cultural-historical psychology and Leont'ev's activity theory with Western intellectual developments such as Cognitive Science , American Pragmatism , Constructivism , and Actor-Network Theory. It is known as Scandinavian activity theory.

Work in the systems-structural theory of activity is also being carried on by researchers in the US and UK. Some of the changes are a systematisation of Leont'ev's work. Some changes were introduced, apparently by importing notions from human—computer interaction theory. For instance, the notion of rules , which is not found in Leont'ev, was introduced.

Also, the notion of collective subject was introduced in the s and s Leont'ev refers to "joint labour activity", but only has individuals, not groups, as activity subjects.

The goal of activity theory is understanding the mental capabilities of a single individual. However, it rejects the isolated individuals as insufficient unit of analysis , analyzing the cultural and technical aspects of human actions. Activity theory is most often used to describe actions in a socio-technical system through six related elements Bryant et al.

Activity theory helps explain how social artifacts and social organization mediate social action Bryant et al. The application of activity theory to information systems derives from the work of Bonnie Nardi and Kari Kuutti. Kuutti's work is addressed below.

Nardi's approach is, briefly, as follows: Nardi p. The object of activity theory is to understand the unity of consciousness and activity Activity theorists argue that consciousness is not a set of discrete disembodied cognitive acts decision making, classification, remembering , and certainly it is not the brain; rather, consciousness is located in everyday practice: you are what you do.

Vygotsky described consciousness as a phenomenon that unifies attention, intention, memory, reasoning, and speech People are not reduced to 'nodes' or 'agents' in a system; 'information processing' is not seen as something to be modelled in the same way for people and machines. In a later work, Nardi et al.

Over the last 15 years the use and exploration of activity theory in information systems has grown. The rise of the personal computer challenged the focus in traditional systems developments on mainframe systems for automation of existing work routines. It furthermore brought forth a need to focus on how to work on materials and objects through the computer. Many of the early advanced user interfaces assumed that the users were the designers themselves, and accordingly built on an assumption of a generic user, without concern for qualifications, work environment, division of work, etc.

In particular the role of the artifact as it stands between the user and her materials, objects and outcomes was ill understood. In validating findings and designs there was a heavy focus on novice users whereas everyday use by experienced users and concerns for the development of expertise were hardly addressed. Detailed task analysis and the idealized models created through task analysis failed to capture the complexity and contingency of real-life action.

From the point of view of complex work settings, it was striking how most HCI focused on one user — one computer in contrast to the ever-ongoing cooperation and coordination of real work situations this problem later lead to the development of CSCW.

Users were mainly seen as objects of study. Because of these shortcomings, it was necessary to move outside cognitive science-based HCI to find or develop the necessary theoretical platform. Suchman with a similar focus introduced ethnomethodology into the discussions, and Ehn based his treatise of design of computer artifacts on Marx, Heidegger and Wittgenstein. Bannon , and Grudin a and b made significant contributions to the furthering of the approach by making it available to the HCI audience.

The work of Kaptelinin has been important to connect to the earlier development of activity theory in Russia. Nardi produced the, hitherto, most applicable collection of activity theoretical HCI literature Nardi, At the end of the s, a group of Russian and American activity theorists working in the systems-cybernetic tradition of Bernshtein and Anokhin began to publish English-language articles and books dealing with topics in human factors and ergonomics [21] and, latterly, human—computer interaction.

The development of SSAT has been specifically oriented toward the analysis and design of the basic elements of human work activity: tasks, tools, methods, objects and results, and the skills, experience and abilities of involved subjects. SSAT has developed techniques for both the qualitative and quantitative description of work activity. This section presents a short introduction to activity theory, and some brief comments on human creativity in activity theory and the implications of activity theory for tacit knowledge and learning.

Activity theory begins with the notion of activity. An activity is seen as a system of human "doing" whereby a subject works on an object in order to obtain a desired outcome.

In order to do this, the subject employs tools, which may be external e. As an illustration, an activity might be the operation of an automated call centre. As we shall see later, many subjects may be involved in the activity and each subject may have one or more motives e.

A simple example of an activity within a call centre might be a telephone operator subject who is modifying a customer's billing record object so that the billing data is correct outcome using a graphical front end to a database tool.

Kuutti formulates activity theory in terms of the structure of an activity. Transforming the object into an outcome motivates the existence of an activity. An object can be a material thing, but it can also be less tangible.

Kuutti then adds a third term, the tool, which 'mediates' between the activity and the object. As Verenikina remarks, tools are "social objects with certain modes of operation developed socially in the course of labour and are only possible because they correspond to the objectives of a practical action.

An activity is modelled as a three-level hierarchy. Verenikina paraphrases Leont'ev as explaining that "the non-coincidence of action and operations If a person is confronted with a specific goal of, say, dismantling a machine, then they must make use of a variety of operations; it makes no difference how the individual operations were learned because the formulation of the operation proceeds differently to the formulation of the goal that initiated the action.

The levels of activity are also characterised by their purposes: "Activities are oriented to motives, that is, the objects that are impelling by themselves. Each motive is an object, material or ideal, that satisfies a need. Actions are the processes functionally subordinated to activities; they are directed at specific conscious goals Actions are realised through operations that are determined by the actual conditions of activity. Kuutti asserts that "These three classes should be understood broadly.

A tool can be anything used in the transformation process, including both material tools and tools for thinking.

Rules cover both explicit and implicit norms, conventions, and social relations within a community. Division of labour refers to the explicit and implicit organisation of the community as related to the transformation process of the object into the outcome. Activity theory therefore includes the notion that an activity is carried out within a social context, or specifically in a community.

The way in which the activity fits into the context is thus established by two resulting concepts:. Activity theory provides a number of useful concepts that can be used to address the lack of expression for 'soft' factors which are inadequately represented by most process modelling frameworks. One such concept is the internal plane of action.

Activity theory

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The objective of the tutorial is to introduce attendees to Activity Theory, a general theoretical framework for the analysis of human and communal action in the.


An application of activity theory to the “problem of e-books”

The adoption rates of e-books for academic use remain low, and research into the reasons for this have resulted in inconclusive findings. Factors such as student perception, and variations in experimental methodology and technology, contribute to difficulties in generalising findings and establishing conclusive causes for this problem. To better understand the causal factors for low adoption rates and the student's experience with ereaders and digital text, an investigation was conducted by the lead researcher as a student enrolled in a postgraduate course.

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Activity theory: basic concepts and applications

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1 Comments

  1. Nualcbamedde1976 14.04.2021 at 00:17

    These basic principles of Activity Theory include object-orientedness, the dual concepts of internalization/externalization, tool mediation, hierarchical structure of.