Barbara Rogoff received her B.A. in psychology with honors from Pomona College in 1971. From 1971 to 1972 she attended the École de Psychologie et Sciences de l'Education at the University of Geneva, where she studied with Barbel Inhelder. In 1977 Rogoff received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Harvard University, where she was mentored by Sheldon H. White, Jerome Kagan, and Beatrice Whiting. During her graduate training, she spent a year in Guatemala as a field psychologist at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, which began a decades long involvement with the Tz'utujil Mayan community of San Pedro, Guatemala. There she collaborated with the anthropologists Benjamin and Lois Paul. From 1977 to 1992 she was a member of the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. In 1992 she joined the faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where as of 2008 she was the UCSC Foundation Professor of Psychology. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the California Academy of Science, as well as a member of the National Academy of Education. She has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a Kellogg Fellow.
Rogoff has advanced theory and research on the cultural and social bases of human development. In 1975 she collaborated in a landmark study that examined the ethnographies of 50 cultural communities and documented a shift between 5 and 7 years of age in children's roles and responsibilities across these settings. This research contains two themes that came to be central to Rogoff's research: the cultural variability of child development and the developmental processes in these culturally diverse paths. 1n 1981 Rogoff drew on a wide range of anthropological and psychological research to describe how the cultural institution of formal schooling relates to cognitive development. She concluded that contemporary understanding of cognitive development is deeply entwined with children's experiences with formal schooling and, thus, limited in its ability to account for the range of human intellectual development.
From the 1970s into the early 2000s, Rogoff pursued these ideas in empirical research on memory, problem solving, planning, communication, and attention. She examined cultural contributions to development as well as how cultural ways of thinking are fostered in children through social interaction. This research, coupled with her ethnographic work in Guatemala, led to the concept of guided participation, a concept that pointed out that children's learning is based on their own participation in cultural activities, at the same time that other people and the community also provide them with varying forms of guidance. In one form of guided participation, learning through intent community participation, Rogoff described learning as children participate in the range of everyday activities of their community, in the company of more experienced cultural members. Although these activities are sometimes instructional, they often occur in the midst of adult activities in which the primary purpose is not to instruct the child but to carry out the activity. An important component of her approach is the idea that children are participants in cultural activities from the outset of development, in one form or another. For Rogoff (2003), intent community participation, in which children seek opportunities to observed, initiate, and engage in the activities that are important in their community, is one of the most prevalent forms of children's learning.
Rogoff 's approach redefines development in a fundamental way with her view that the proper level of developmental analysis is not the solitary child but rather the child's changing participation in socially and culturally organized activity. This approach, integrating the social and cognitive processes of human development is described in her 2003 book, The Cultural Nature of Human Development, which was awarded the APA William James Award for advancing the field of psychology.
See also:Guided Participation
Rogoff, B., Sellers, M. J., Pirotta, S., Fox, N., & White, S. H. (1975). Age of assignment of roles and responsibilities to children: A cross-cultural survey. Human Development, 18, 353–369.
Rogoff, B. (1981). Schooling and the development of cognitive skills. In H.C. Triandis & A. Heron (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural psychology (Vol. 4, pp. 233–294). Rockleigh, NJ: Allyn & Bacon.
Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rogoff, B., Goodman Turkanis, C., & Bartlett, L., (2001). Learning together: Children and adults in a school community. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. New York: Oxford University Press.
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