The dynamics of change in children's learning

Donald Bremme, William Blanton, Margaret Gallego, Luis C. Moll, Robert Rueda, Olga Vásquez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The case study data reflecting the themes and the empirical data in chapter 5 point to two important findings: 1. At both the institutional level and the level of face-to-face interaction, the theoretically informed design principles of the Fifth Dimension model were routinely visible, warranting the conclusion that the model was indeed implemented. 2. The instantiation of those intellectual principles in daily Fifth Dimension processes plausibly accounts for the instances of children's learning that the process team observed and thus might explain the results obtained by the cognitive evaluation team. In the case study data presented, it is important to note that each example could also be used to illustrate the other two themes. Adam, Sonia, and Vivian all have commitments to the play aspects of the games they are playing, and each vignette we have offered could be used to show how others in the Fifth Dimension (usually but not always adults) push a competing educational aspect and turn it into what the kids are doing while having fun. Similarly, Adam, Sonia, and Vivian all have partial knowledge of the games and of the social relations around them, so their vignettes could be used to show how they and various participants, also with partial knowledge of what is going on, negotiate to arrive at mutual cooperation on a task that requires whatever knowledge each of them can bring. Finally, Adam, Sonia, and Vivian are each potentially in an authority struggle in the sense that each wants to do things that an adult would like to redirect; in each example, child and adult carve out mutually well-defined, flexible role relationships as the roles of teacher and learner are negotiated and as both play and learning take place. Many other examples could have been used to illustrate each of the three themes, and most examples could be used to address each theme. However, to do so would be to ask readers to work their way through the examples in something akin to real time, and that is simply impractical. This store of examples gives us some assurance that the themes we have presented really do capture the principles of the Fifth Dimension system in operation. They also give us reason to believe that the Fifth Dimension system could occupy a significant niche in the effort to promote the literacy of American children, a niche that could be filled in many neighborhoods where children have come to see learning in school as a negative experience. In summarizing their findings, the process team came to three conclusions. First, the Fifth Dimension is a good place for all participants to get to know each other and to learn important things. Second, the Fifth Dimension fills what had been a vacuum: A cultural niche that enables productive learning. And finally, the theory of learning underlying the Fifth Dimension can be used to replicate not just Fifth Dimensions but other community-based learning systems. Readers must, of course, decide for themselves whether the evidence from this chapter and the previous chapter warrants such conclusions. Each kind of evidence, taken by itself, is open to legitimate criticism. We believe, however, that the evidence is persuasive enough to place the burden on those who doubt the conclusions to which we have been drawn. Indeed, with these three conclusions in hand, it seems clear that we need to roll up our sleeves and build more such institutions of learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Fifth Dimension
Subtitle of host publicationAn After-School Program Built On Diversity
PublisherRussell Sage Foundation
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)0871540843, 9780871540843
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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