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V. V. Davydov – the founder of scientific school and director of the Psychological Institute

On August, the 31th, 2005, V.V. Davydov, prominent Russian psychologist and founder of a new scientific school, would have turned 75 years old. His main ideas were put down in the fundamental works “Types of generalization in teaching” [13], “Problems of developmental teaching” [14], “Theory of developmental teaching” [15]. The theoretical foundation of Davydov’s work in the activity approach to the research of higher mental functions, and the cultural-historical theory of L.S. Vygotsky, A.N. Leont’yev, A.R. Luria, A.V. Zaporozhets, P.Ya. Gal’perin, D.B. El’konin. The basis of Davydov’s theory is the idea of unity of education and development. In the psycho-educational research the logical-objective and logical-psychological analyses of the content and methods of teaching, age determined abilities of children should be closely connected.

In his thesis for obtaining the Candidate of Sciences degree (1958), V.V. Davydov collected data that characterize the basic stages of the formation of mental actions in children (on the examples of count and concept of “number” formation in preschool children). Together with D.B. El’konin they founded a unique educational establishment – the experimental school №91 in Moscow, sponsored by the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR. At this school V.V. Davydov and his colleagues conducted fundamental research designed to identify the real particular characteristics of age and capabilities of thinking in primary schoolchildren, to study the laws of formation of their learning activity, to disclose the logical-psychological presuppositions for composing teaching programs.

In 1970, in his thesis for obtaining the Doctor of Sciences degree, and also in the book “Types of generalization in teaching” that was based upon it and published later in 1972, V.V. Davydov showed, using large amount of empirical evidence, that the traditional system of primary school teaching was based upon outdated logical-psychological presuppositions which were connected with empirical theory of thinking. The real perfectioning of the system of teaching at school suggests another kind of logical-psychological pre suppositions, connected to the dialectic materialistic understanding of the processes of thinking, especially of the processes of generalization of the studied material. V.V. Davydov elaborated the theory of interrelatedness of the learning activity with the processes of construction of meaningful abstractions and generalizations in schoolchildren. Nowadays, this theory exerts significant influence over psychological substantiation of the content and methods of organization of teaching process.

The foundation of Davydov’s scientific school consists of three main directions of research, the three proverbial whales that define its theoretical, scientific and didactic boundaries: the theory of content generalization and concept formation, the psychological theory of learning activity and the system of developmental teaching.

I. The theory of content generalization and concept formation is the core of the scientific school of V.V. Davydov. Content generalization is a way of thinking. The thought that is built upon generalization of this type, identifies the significant initial relation within the object, which defines the qualities and features of this object which constitute its essence.

II. The psychological theory of learning activity is the theory of learning activity per se. The learning activity is one of the main types of human activity (along with work and play) and is directed to mastering/appropriation of the generalized ways of object-related and cognitive actions, generalized theoretical knowledge. The essence of learning activity lies within solving the tasks of learning, the goal and result of which consist in transformation of the subject him/herself, which occurs through appropriation of the generalized ways of action (D.B. El’konin [58]). To put an educational task means to introduce the students into situation that requires orientation to its content-oriented generalized common way of solving it, in all its particular versions of conditions.

III. The system of developmental teaching is the didactic system of El’konin & Davydov. It includes the course of math, composed by S.F. Gorbov, G.G. Mikulina, O.V. Savelyeva, N.L. Tabachnikova; the course of native language, com posed by V.V. Repkin et al, and L.I. Aydarova; the course of arts and artistic crafts (Yu.A. Poluyanov); the course “Literature as an aesthetic discipline” (G.N. Kudina and Z.N. Novlianskaya); “Nature science” (Ye.V. Chudinova and Ye.N. Bukvaryova); “Philosophy for children” (А.А. Margolis, S.D. Kovalyov, M.V. Telegin et al.)

For evaluating the effectivity of learning activity, the systems of assessment of theoretical thinking and its components (such as analysis, reflection, planning, systemic characteristics of thinking) were elaborated for different object matter. Also the scientific group elaborated the criteria for assessing the levels of learning activity development, as a whole as well as its separate components.

The system of developmental teaching is not stagnating. Its further elaboration is determined by the necessity of solving social problems, first of all, constructing the system of developmental education and modernization of the educational system as a whole.

Nowadays several attempts have been made to create programs of developmental teaching for adolescents, and a series of researches was con ducted concerning the creation of educational environment at schools. One of the first theories in this field become the theory of educational environment for children from 5 to 17 years old (V.V. Rubtsov, А.А. Margolis, V.A. Guruzhapov [52]). The direction of research lead by Yu.V.Gromyko [21], substantiating the necessity of such disciplines at school, as “Sign”, “Task” and “Problem”, seems promising.

Davydov’s idea about the initial collective shared forms of organization of the learning activity is essential for the development of the main postulates of the learning activity theory. The genesis of the learning-cognitive action is innately connected to sharing of this activity amongst its participants, it depends on the type of transactions during problem-solving. New data allow to cast critical glance upon the scientific debates of V.V. Davydov and L.S. Vygotsky about scientific concepts formation. The system of object-related actions which are specific for identification of significant relations in its initial form is the organization of such actions as collective-shared amongst the participants of said activity. It allows keeping in mind that the shift from object-related actions to their mental accomplishment is connected to generalization of the ways of organizing the actions. The scheme of organization that emerges in this process becomes meaning and sign of that common relatedness which defines all the amount of given concepts.

It is evident that the scientific school of V.V. Davydov is a living and evolving organism.

The life of V.V. Davydov harmoniously combined his activity as a researcher and as the director of the Institute. Vasily Vasil’yevich Davydov was a special person, a brilliant and unique example of scientific leader, a fabulous “hero of our times”.

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