Andrew D. Coppens is Assistant Professor of Education in Learning Sciences at the University of New Hampshire. His Ph.D. is in Developmental Psychology from the University of California Santa Cruz, with a designated emphasis in Latin American and Latina/o Studies. Dr. Coppens' scholarship in child development examines how young children's learning becomes integrated with or segregated from the productive work of their families and communities. Recent projects focus on toddlers' and young children's prosocial helping, especially parental guidance.
Skills and Expertise
Research Items (10)
- Nov 2017
Future advances in identity research will depend on integration across major theoretical traditions. Developmental–contextualism has established essential criteria to guide this effort, including specifying the context of identity development, its timing over the life course, and its content. This article assesses 4 major traditions of identity research—identity status, eudaimonic identity, sociocultural theory, and narrative identity—in light of these criteria, and describes the contribution of each tradition to the broader enterprise of developmental–contextual research. This article proposes dialectical integration of the 4 traditions, for the purpose of generating new questions when the tensions and contradictions among theoretical traditions are acknowledged. We provide examples from existing literature of the kinds of research that could address these questions and consider ways of addressing the validity issues involved in developmental–contextual identity research.
- Sep 2017
Cultural research can help to identify strengths of cultural communities that are often viewed through a deficit model. Strengths-based approaches open researchers, practitioners, and the public to seeing the logic and value of cultural practices that vary from mainstream approaches. Strengths-based approaches include and extend beyond concerns for social equity: They are necessary for scientific characterization of human cognitive and social processes as well as for effective educational and societal practices. An example of a cultural strength is the sophisticated collaboration shown by many Indigenous-heritage children from North and Central America, which contrasts with the common practice in middle-class communities of dividing up activities into separate roles. These distinct approaches to working together fit with broader cultural paradigms that offer insights into human development as well as inspiration for alternative approaches. As an anonymous reviewer noted, the strengths of each group can be leveraged to mesh with the strengths of others.
This chapter discusses two cultural paradigms of children’s involvement in family and community endeavors that channel many aspects of children’s everyday lives and their families’ approaches to child rearing. One paradigm – in which children are segregated from many family and community endeavors – is commonly assumed in scholarship on children’s development to characterize childhood generally, but this paradigm is likely to be limited to highly schooled communities like those of many researchers. In a distinct paradigm that occurs in some communities in which Western schooling has not been prevalent, children are integrated as valued, mutual contributors in family and community endeavors. Theories of motivation and prosocial development do not yet adequately account for learning paradigms related to children’s integration as collaborative contributors in mature endeavors. The chapter examines how each paradigm organizes children’s contributions in everyday household work, with an illustration of cultural differences between two communities in Mexico. It appears that in the paradigm where children are integrated as collaborative contributors in shared, mutual family responsibilities, children regularly take initiative to make complex prosocial contributions and their mothers value their helpfulness. By contrast, it appears that in the paradigm where children are segregated from mature family responsibilities, they contribute minimally, they seldom take initiative in family work, and their mothers assign them their “own” chores to do and rarely expect children’s help without adult management. Our chapter considers the potential ramifications of the segregation or collaborative integration of children in meaningful and mutual roles in family and community endeavors.
- Jan 2015
Collaborative initiative is an important aspect of Learning by Observing and Pitching In (LOPI), and many interrelated family and community practices in LOPI may support children's initiative. In this chapter, we examine two cultural ways of supporting children's helpfulness and responsibility that draw on different cultural paradigms for organizing children's participation in everyday work in U.S. Mexican-heritage and European American communities. European American university students reported having received allowances as a contractual enticement to do assigned chores. In contrast, although U.S. Mexican-heritage university students reported having received pocket money from their families, this was as a gift, noncontingent on completed chores or good behavior. They reported that this noncontingent support for children's responsibility focuses children on collaborating with the family, and contributing to shared work with initiative, consistent with LOPI, in which children are integrated in family and community endeavors and are eager to contribute. The chapter challenges traditional dichotomies in motivational theory that attempt to specify the “source” of children's motivation to learn and help within either individuals or social contexts.
Children's views on their household work as mutual contribution within the family may encourage their initiative in pitching in. We asked 9- and 10-year-old children from a Mexican city how they viewed child participation in family household work. Almost all of the 16 children reported that children want to contribute to family household work, which they regarded as the shared responsibility of everyone in the family. However, the 8 children who lived in an Indigenous-heritage community were more often reported to take initiative to make broad and complex work contributions than children from a newly schooled community. The children in the Indigenous-heritage community more often emphasized their mutual coordination and collaboration with other members of the family, whereas children from the newly schooled community often focused on their personal contributions. We examine cultural values that may support children in viewing household work as part of being a responsible family member, and consider the possibility that these encourage children's development of initiative. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel
This article addresses cultural differences in children's initiative in helping in their home. Many 6- to 8-year-old children from an Indigenous-heritage community in Guadalajara, Mexico, were reported to engage, on their own initiative, in complex work for the benefit of the whole family (such as tending younger siblings, cooking, or running errands). In contrast, few children from a cosmopolitan community in Guadalajara, in which families had extensive experience with Western schooling and associated practices, were reported to contribute to family household work, and seldom on their own initiative. They were more often reported to be involved in activities managed by adults, and to have limited time to play, compared with the children in the Indigenous-heritage community, who were often reported to have plenty of time for free play and often planned and initiated their own after-school activities. The differences in children's contributions on their own initiative support the idea that children in some Indigenous American communities have opportunities and are expected and allowed to learn with initiative by observing and pitching in to collaborative endeavors of their families and communities. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel
To conclude this special issue of Human Development on Learning by Observing and Pitching In to family and community endeavors (LOPI), we argue that everyone can benefit from learning to do things in more than one way, expanding our repertoires of practice. We examine potential developmental benefits for children's collaborative initiative, alertness, and skills in perspective-taking, self-regulation, and planning, in addition to acquiring particular information and skills. To deepen our understanding of the processes involved in LOPI, we discuss further research to investigate suggestions that LOPI may routinely involve: a calm measured pace; articulate nonverbal conversation and parsimonious verbal conversation that build on shared endeavors; encouragement of appropriate behavior through narrative approaches; and assessment in support of learning to contribute to shared productive endeavors. We conclude by recommending a wider use of LOPI and argue that this way of supporting learning involves sophisticated community and individual efforts and organization. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel
Historically, adventure educators have used the metaphor of hard and soft skills to understand their practice: hard skills representing technical competencies, and soft skills representing interpersonal competencies. In light of current research and in the face of increasingly complex varieties of adventure practice, the categorization of skills into “hard” or “soft” may obscure important aspects of experiential learning and limit the development of an effective pedagogy for adventure education. This paper interrogates the hard/soft metaphor from various perspectives and offers “repertoire of practice” (Wenger, 1998) as a possible framework to further discuss instruction and learning in contemporary adventure education. ‘What we have learned to see something as, becomes in turn, the guide to our outward practical activity’. (Wartofsky, 1979, p. 207)