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Cultural-Historical Psychology

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 1816-5435

ISSN (online): 2224-8935


License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published since 2005

Published quarterly

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Open Access Journal

Affiliated ISCAR


Methodological Challenges of Studying Children in a Living Laboratory: Case example of Conceptual PlayLab 278


Fleer M.
PhD in Education, Laureate and Director, Australian Research Council, , Melbourne, Australia

Fragkiadaki G.
PhD in Education, Senior Research Fellow, Conceptual PlayLab, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Rai P.
PhD in Education, Senior Research Fellow, Conceptual PlayLab, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Digital technologies have created possibilities in research unavailable when Vygotsky first introduced his cultural-historical approach for studying children’s development. More needs to be known about the relations between methodology and method when using digital tools in the early developmental period (1-5 years). In this paper we introduce the concept of a living laboratory to capture the research dynamics of this cultural age period in family homes and preschool settings under conditions of an educational experiment. We discuss Vygotsky’s theoretical concepts as foundational for theorising the use of digital tools for researching in a living laboratory. Central for a living laboratory are: (1) capturing development in motion, (2) including the past in the present research context, (3) designing studies in ways that go beyond fossilised complete forms of development, and (4) creating study conditions for condensed and amplified forms of development. To bring these conditions into the research contexts where a condensed form of development emerges opens up a dynamic yet dialectical way of studying early development. We showcase digital tools, such as VR and digital data collection, as part of (1) undertaking an educational experiment of a Conceptual PlayWorld, and (2) a cultural-historical conception of longitudinal research for studying the conceptual development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers within a living laboratory.

Keywords: cultural-historical, method, methodology, early childhood, digital, VR, development

Column: Cultural-Historical Psychology: Traditions and Innovations


Funding. Funded by the Australian Research Council [FL180100161; DP180101030].

Acknowledgements. We would like to acknowledge the funds received from the Australian Research Council for the establishment of the Conceptual PlayLab and undertaking the programmatic research into imagination in play and imagination in STEM.

For Reference

A Part of Article

The aim of this paper is to conceptualise the method and methodology of studying in naturalistic settings infants, toddlers and preschoolers’ conceptual development. An approach that can create developmental conditions in a condensed form can give researchers new directions for studying early conceptual development in naturalistic early childhood settings.

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