Inicio > Psicología marxista > «On the Cognitive, Epistemic, and Ontological Roles of Artifacts»: Luis Radford

«On the Cognitive, Epistemic, and Ontological Roles of Artifacts»: Luis Radford

1 Introduction

Galileo opens his Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences with a remark about the famous 16th century Venetian arsenal, which he praises for its impressive amount of instruments and machines; this arsenal, he says, offers an opportunity to wonder and think. With their unprecedented variety of tools and artifacts, contemporary classrooms may have looked like the Venetian arsenal to Galileo. True, some of the artifacts that are part of our educational settings have been there for a long time now – for example, textbooks. Others, however, made their appearance with the digital technological progress during the 20th century. And, like the instruments and machines of the Venetian arsenal, they offer new possibilities for thinking and learning.

Now, for these possibilities to be materialized in the classroom, the conditions surrounding the use of artifacts in processes of teaching and learning need to be clearly understood. Indeed, since artifacts are artificial devices, neither the understanding of their use nor the best exploitation of their epistemic possibilities is self-evident. This is why investigating the proper conditions of artifact use in educational settings constitutes an important research problem. The various chapters in this part of the book tackle this problem and offer interesting theoretical and methodological contributions to current debates in the field. Thus, seeing the chapters from a general viewpoint, the various authors inquire about the manner in which teachers adapt and use specific resources in their own practice – for example, CAS (Kieran, Tanguay, and Solares), Enciclomedia (Trigueros and Lozano), a digital-based algebra environment (Drijvers), material objects and symbolic artifacts (Forest and Mercier), and textbooks (Rezat).1 Naturally, the authors tackle the general research problem from different perspectives and ask questions of different kinds. Kieran et al. inquire about the adaptations of researcher-designed resources by teachers. Trigueros and Lozano move along similar lines and try to detect what they call the ‘operational invariants’ in the teachers’ use of resources. Drijvers attempts to elicit the kind of ‘instrumental orchestrations’ to which the teachers resort in their classrooms, while Rezat explores the forms of textbook use undergone  by both teachers and students.

On the Cognitive, Epistemic, and Ontological Roles of Artifacts

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