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2.4 Internalization

The previous mechanisms seem to indicate that conducting verbal interactions has an intrinsic learning effect. This position is central into the socio-cultural theory [8, 9]. In this theory, human cognition is shaped by the culture in general, and by the language in particular. When two people collaborate, they often have to justify their action to each other. The verbalisation of this knowledge seems to have an effect on both partners. The mechanisms of learning by participating into conversations has been called 'internalization' by Vygotsky [9]. The concepts conveyed by the interactions with more able peers are progressively integrated in the listener's knowledge structures. When integrated, they can be used in his own reasoning. Thinking is viewed a discussion that one has with oneselve and which develops on the basis of discussions we had with others.

However, internalization only occurs if some conditions are met. One condition is that subjects can only assimilate concepts which are within their 'zone of proximal development', i.e. within the neighbourhood of the current cognitive level. Another condition is that the less able peer is not left as a passive listener, but participates into the joint problem solving strategy [10] . We come back on these question in sections 3 and 4.

ICCAI 95 article - 08 FEB 95
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