Michael Cole

Michael Cole


Director of Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition

Email: mcole@ucsd.edu


Ph.D. in Psychology, Indiana University (1962)


For many years I have been seeking to develop a mediational theory of mind building upon the traditions of Russian cultural-historical activity theories and American pragmatic social sciences. Early in my career this work began with a series of cross-cultural studies of cognitive development, especially as development relates to the roles of literacy and schooling. Subsequently my interests in culture, context, and development led to a series of studies designed to study development using a combination of experimental, quasi-experimental, and in-situ methods associated with microethnography and participant observation. For the past decade I have been engaged in a large, and growing, analysis of a large number of special "microcultures" ("Fifth Dimensions") that have been designed to promote the intellectual and social development of children. These waves of research are described in a book published in 1996, Cultural Psychology: A Once and Future Discipline (Harvard University Press).

At present my research is carried out within the broad mandate of the University of California to assist in the education of the state’s children. I make extensive use of new communication technologies in this work including support for XMCA, a quasi-moderated discussion group and the use of computers and computer networks in research with both children in community settings and undergraduates. I also am studying the use of interactive video-conferencing as a medium for teaching and inter-institutional collaboration.


For a sample of both recent and not so recent writing, visit the LCHC website.


  • Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Note published in American Psych Association Monitor, vol 37, no 5 2006
  • The Cultural Historical Special Interest Group of AERA announced the first recipients of the SIG's newly created awards: The Life Time Contribution Award , 2004
  • The Italian Ministry for the University and for Scientific and Technological Research has approved the proposal of awarding Mike Cole with the Laurea Honoris Causa in Psychology, 2004