Studying the process of change: the double stimulation strategy in teacher education research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter focuses on one of Vygotsky’s key methodological concepts: the double stimulation strategy (Vygotsky 1978, 1987, 1999), a radical reconceptualisation of the behaviourist experimental method that makes the unit of analysis the process or activity of engaging with a task rather than merely the outcome or product. In such a re-conceptualisation, the researcher’s analytic gaze is directed at the mediation of the subject’s or participant’s activity by physical or psychological tools. For Vygotsky, the psychological tool of principal interest was language, principally spoken but also written (Vygotsky 1986), although his work is characterised by attention at different times to social as well as semiotic mediation and the associated concept of the ‘zone of proximal development’ (Moll 1990; Vygotsky 1978). Moreover, this re-conceptualisation challenges the researcher to see psychological processes as historical and dynamic, ‘undergoing changes right before one’s eyes’ (Vygotsky 1978: 61) and, further still, capable of being provoked by the researcher. In illustrating the significance of this methodological concept in researching teacher education and development, I will refer to two examples from my work: first, a study of beginning English teachers’ concept formation and conceptual development (Ellis 2007a, 2007b); and, second, a formative intervention into the organisational learning of a school-university teacher education partnership (Ellis 2008, 2007c). The argument of the chapter is that the double stimulation strategy is useful and productive in conceptualising and designing research into teacher learning that seeks to explain its complexity and to trace the history of its development. The two illustrations will also reflect the different emphases and shifts in Vygotsky’s work from semiotic to social processes of mediation and the potential of the research method itself to stimulate positive change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural-Historical Perspectives on Teacher Education and Development
Subtitle of host publicationLearning Teaching
EditorsViv Ellis, Anne Edwards, Peter Smagorinsky
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780203860106
ISBN (Print)9780415497589, 9780415497596
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

Cite this