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Activity theory is a psychologicalmeta-theory, paradigm, or framework, with its roots in Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychology. Its founders were Alexei N. Leont'ev (1903-1979), and Sergei Rubinshtein (1889-1960) who sought to understand human activities as complex, socially situated phenomena and go beyond paradigms of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. It became one of the major psychological approaches in the former USSR, being widely used in both theoretical and applied psychology, in areas such as education, training, ergonomics, and work psychology.
Activity theory theorizes that when individuals engage and interact with their environment, production of tools results. These tools are "exteriorized" forms of mental processes, and as these mental processes are manifested in tools, they become more readily accessible and communicable to other people, thereafter becoming useful for social interaction.
The history of activity theory
The origins of activity theory can be traced to several sources, which have subsequently given rise to various complementary and intertwined strands of development. This account will focus on two of the most important of these strands. The first is associated with the Moscow Institute of Psychology and in particular the troika of young researchers, Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (1896â€“1934), Alexander Romanovich Luria (1902â€“77) and Alexei Nikolaevich Leont'ev (1903â€“79). Vygotsky founded cultural-historical psychology, an important strand in the activity approach; Leontâ€™ev, one of the principal founders of activity theory, both continued, and reacted against, Vygotsky's work. Leont'ev's formulation of general activity theory is currently the most influential in post-Soviet developments in AT, which have largely been in social-scientific and organizational, rather than psychological research.
The second major line of development within activity theory involves scientists, such as P. K. Anokhin (1898-1974) and N. A. Bernshtein (1896-1966), more directly concerned with the neurophysiological basis of activity; its foundation is associated with the Soviet philosopher of psychology S. L. Rubinshtein (1889-1960). This work was subsequently developed by researchers such as Pushkin, Zinchenko & Gordeeva, Ponomarenko, Zarakovsky and others, as is currently most well-known through the work on systemic-structural activity theory being carried out by G. Z. Bedny and his associates.
After Vygotsky's early death, Leont'ev became the leader of the research group nowadays known as the Kharkov school of psychology and extended Vygotsky's research framework in significantly new ways. Leont'ev first examined the psychology of animals, looking at the different degrees to which animals can be said to have mental processes. He concluded that Pavlov's reflexionism was not a sufficient explanation of animal behaviour and that animals have an active relation to reality, which he called activity. In particular, the behaviour of higher primates such as chimpanzees could only be explained by the ape's formation of multi-phase plans using tools.
Leont'ev then progressed to humans and pointed out that people engage in "actions" that do not in themselves satisfy a need, but contribute towards the eventual satisfaction of a need. Often, these actions only make sense in a social context of a shared work activity. This lead him to a distinction between activities, which satisfy a need, and the actions that constitute the activities.
Leont'ev also argued that the activity in which a person is involved is reflected in their mental activity, that is (as he puts it) material reality is "presented" to consciousness, but only in its vital meaning or significance.
Developments in activity theory
Activity theory is dynamic. It can be used by a variety of disciplines to understand the way people act.
Scandinavian activity theory
This major school of thought seeks to integrate and develop concepts from Vygotsky's Cultural-Historical Psychology and Leont'ev's activity theory with Western intellectual developments such as Cognitive Science, American Pragmatism, Constructivism, and Actor-Network Theory. It is known as Scandinavian activity theory. Work in the systems-structural theory of activity is also being carried on by researchers in the US and UK.
Systemic-structural activity theory (SSAT)
At the end of the 1990s, a group of Russian and American activity theorists working in the systems-cybernetic tradition of Bernshtein and Anokhin began to publish English-language articles and books dealing with topics in human factors and ergonomics and, latterly, human-computer interaction. Under the rubric of systemic-structural activity theory (SSAT), this work represents a modern synthesis within activity theory which brings together the cultural-historical and systems-structural strands of the tradition (as well as other work within Soviet psychology such as the Psychology of Set) with findings and methods from Western human factors/ergonomics and cognitive psychology.
The development of SSAT has been specifically oriented toward the analysis and design of the basic elements of human work activity: tasks, tools, methods, objects and results, and the skills, experience and abilities of involved subjects. SSAT has developed techniques for both the qualitative and quantitative description of work activity. Its design-oriented analyses specifically focus on the interrelationship between the structure and self-regulation of work activity and the configuration of its material components.
Applications to design
In the study of Human-Computer Interaction and indie-rock band from Montreal (featuring two members originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia) which comprises guitarist-vocalists Warren Spicer and Nic Basque and drummer-vocalist Matthew Woody Woodley. They often describe their music as post-classic rock. They are signed to Secret City Records. Their first full-length album, Parc Avenue, was shortlisted for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for a 2009 Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year. Plants and Animals were also given a 2009 Juno nomination for Best New Band.
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Appearances in the media
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Answers:This format of answering does not seem to support diagrams! I'll provide you with a table of energy gaps 'E(g)' for selected semi-conductors at T=0 K and energy versus wave vector equations for typical band structures. Energy gaps of selected semiconductors material ....... E(g) ev T = 0 K or E(0) Si ............... 1.17 Ge ............. 0.75 PbS ............ 0.29 PbSe .......... 0.17 PbTe .......... 0.19 InSb ........... 0.23 GaSb ......... 0.79 AlSb .......... 1.6 InAs ........... 0.43 At room temperature most band gaps, of semiconductors, have a linear variation with temperature, given by: - E(g) = E(0) - AT The electronic properties of semiconductors are completely determined by the comparatively small numbers of electrons excited into the conduction band and the holes left behind in the valance band. The electrons will be found almost exclusively in levels near the conduction band minima, while the holes will be confined to the neighbourhood of the valance band maxima. Therefore the energy versus wave vector relations for the carriers can generally be approximated by the quadratic form: - (k) = (c) + | k + k + k | .....................| __ .... __ .... __ ... | (electrons) .................... |m . m . m | (k) = (v) - | k + k + k | ....................| __ .... __ .... __ ... | (holes) ....................|m . m . m | Where ' (c)' is the energy at the bottom of the conduction band and ' (v)' is the energy at the top of the valance band. The origin of k-space is set to lie at the band maximum or minimum. If there exists more than one maximum or minimum, there will be one such term for each point so that there are a set of orthogonal principle axis( for each such point). For silicon. The crystal has the diamond structure, so the first Brillouin zone is the truncated octahedron appropriate to a face centred Bravais lattice. The conduction band has six symmetry related minima at points in the <100> directions, about 80 % of the way to the zone boundary. by symmetry each of the six ellipsoids must be an ellipsoid of revolution about a cube axis. They are quite cigar shaped, being elongated along the axis. There are two degenerate valance band maxima, both located at k = 0. For germanium. The crystal structure is that of silicon but the conduction band minima occur at the zone boundaries in the <111> directions. I hope this is of some help!
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