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The Introduction provides an overview of our approach to behavioral regulation as grounded in the theoretical work of Vygotsky and other related social and cultural theorists. From our approach, regulatory processes emerge from relational and agential processes of engagement in the learning practices of local communities such as classrooms, after-school programs, or homes. These processes are continuously interwoven with a community2019s cultural and semiotic resources. By focusing on relational and agential processes of learners and their teachers and mentors, our approach moves beyond the more common focus on self-regulation to a focus on all forms of behavioral regulation including self-, other-, co-, and socially shared regulation as relational parts of a whole system of regulatory processes for gaining, maintaining, and displaying intellectual and social-emotional competencies in the lived world. We introduce four novel sociocultural lenses for observing and analyzing regulatory processes in context and include a brief description of topics covered in the following chapters.
The Conclusion provides an overview of our theoretical approach and details how each of the four novel sociocultural lenses presented in this book offers observational and analytical tools for better understanding how behavioral regulation is a competency that is socially embedded and functions as a system of self-, other-, co-, and socially shared regulatory processes. Reconceptualizing competence as involving all forms of behavioral regulation moves away from the dualisms characteristic of traditional psychological approaches that divide the self from culture and the individual from society. Our analytical lenses do not reject the importance of an individual’s development of psychological and practical actions over time, but rather reframe them as part of a relational process of agency in which the regulated actions and interactions used to enact and develop intellectual and social emotional competences are always part of the sociocultural world.
In Chapter 2, we offer a theoretical frame referred to as the relational habitus (RH), which can be used to conceptualize, observe, and document how meaning-making processes are co-constructed over interactional and historical time. The RH is an ecological ensemble of relations including self, tools, tasks, and others that is intersubjectively constructed and sustained over time in formal and informal learning communities. The RH helps explain how variances in the social organization of regulatory processes are related to the structure of activities in learning arenas, the interactional processes in activities, and movement in the social and psychological spaces of these arenas. The RH encompasses three interrelated aspects of intersubjectivity: (1) an orientation to others in cultural contexts, (2) mutual perspective-taking accomplished through communication, and (3) perspective-making during learning. These aspects explain how regulatory processes emerge from and change through meaning-making by the agential actions of individuals and the situational structuring of these actions.
Chapter 5 offers a novel approach to emotion with the concept of contextual mood. In contrast to individualistic notions, mood is defined as emerging from socially distributed, interactive mechanisms, which, in turn, create and sustain moods in the lived experiences of learning practices. Contextual mood as a conceptual frame makes it possible to observe and capture how emotional (affective) experiences are interwoven with cognitive engagement in learning activities. In these activities, feelings permeate actions and thoughts and emerge through stancetaking, a linguistic resource used during social interactions. The creation of a contextual mood attunes learners to particular forms of behavioral regulation as learning activities unfold. We explain how a contextual mood prompts learners to consider, utilize, and potentially contribute to a repertoire of strategies for regulating meaning-making behaviors during literacy learning.
In Chapter 1, we present an overview of Vygotsky’s cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), including an explanation of how regulatory processes arise from the routine practices of social life. As part of this overview, we provide an explicit definition of cultural practices. To elaborate how a practice perspective is beneficial for understanding behavioral regulation, we describe how basic elements of an activity theoretic framework capture defining elements of a social practice. This framework offers a useful model for conceptualizing and observing how social practices come into existence and bring/create contextual resources that influence behavioral regulation. These resources are contextually embedded and include such elements as cultural tools, sign systems and symbols, goal-directed activities, and tasks. To better understand how regulatory processes emerge from participation in a community’s valued activities, we offer definitions of self-, other-, and co-regulation from a practice perspective.
In Chapter 3, we offer practical-moral knowledge as a theoretical frame that can be used to understand the dynamic transactions between the historical construction of a social context and regulatory processes of learning. Practical-moral knowledge is socially embedded and emerges in formal and in formal learning communities. This form of knowledge is socially constructed and reconstructed from a continually emergent and shared semiotic (sign) system of rights, responsibilities, and duties that establishes legitimate actions and interactions for competent participation. This sign system is composed of social and moral orders and gives rise to a community ethos involving a code of conduct for regulating behaviors, a code always under revision as learners and the community co-develop. Learners (and their mentors/teachers) use locally constructed practical-moral knowledge to guide engagement in processes of self-, other-, and co-regulation.
In Chapter 4, we suggest that competency be reimagined as a social identity. Social identities are inhabited or embodied representations (signs) of the values and statuses (possible roles) of a community. Social identities can be explicit or implicit. An identity of competency is an example of an implicit form of social identity that is linked to a local community’s socially shared but tacit category for competency. This category represents the values and expectations for how to be, act, or feel like a competent member of a community. In learning settings, an identity of competency is implicitly valued and highly desired because it brings recognition and status (rights/power) for regulating the behaviors of self and others as well as indicates a willingness to persist in complex learning. Understanding how this form of identity is enacted can reveal what forms of behavior regulation indicate competency in learning communities.
Written by educational researchers and professionals working with children and adolescents in and out of school, this book shows how self-regulation involves more than an isolated individual's ability to control their thoughts and feelings, particularly in a learning environment. By using Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychological theory, the authors provide a unique set of four analytical lenses for a better understanding of how self-regulation, co-regulation, and other-regulation function as a system of regulatory processes. These lenses move beyond a focus on solitary individuals, who self-regulate behavior, to centre on individuals as relational, agential, and contextually situated. As agents, teachers and their students build their learning contexts and are influenced by these self-engineered contexts. This is a dynamic perspective of a social context and underlies the view that regulatory processes are an integral part of a functional system for learning.
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