The University of Sussex

A Cultural-Cognitive Approach to Cognitive Writing

Charles C. Wood

In the last decade, studies of writing have focused on the internal cognitive approach, with its concentration on hypothetical internal representations and cognitive processes is most appropriate to guide the design of individual writing systems, let alone collaborative authoring systems. This paper argues for a cultural-cognitive approach to the study of human activity, which yields insights which are more informing for designers of systems than purely "classical" cognitive ergonomics. An approach, cultural-cognitive ergonomics, which focuses on the group and its attendant cognitive artifacts as a cognitive system is outlined, and the notion of the mediation of cognition through collaborators and artifacts is discussed. Some illustrative examples from a study in which participants worked closely together on a conceptual authoring task using a shared work surface are presented and the phenomena that emerge are interpreted within this cultural-cognitive perspective. Finally, it is considered how this approach might inform the design of systems for collaborative writing.


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