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Michael Cole

Professor Emeritus and Director Emeritus of Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition

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.

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


Perspectives on Social Class: On Bernstein's Class, Codes and Control
Sylvia Scribner and Mike Cole, in Reviews in Anthropology, Vol. 1, No. 1, Feb. 1974.

The Perils of Translation: A First Step in Reconsidering Vygotsky's Theory of Development in Relation to Formal Education
Michael Cole, in Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16: 291-295, 2009.

Cultural-Historical Activity Theory,
Michael Cole, in Qualitative Research, © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Differences and Deficits in Psychological Research in Historical Perspective: A Commentary on the Special Section
Michael Cole, in Developmental Psychology 2013, Vol. 49, No. 1, 84-91.

The World Beyond Our Borders: What Might Our Students Need To Know About It?
Mike Cole, in American Psycholoist, September 1984 (pp.998-1005).

Beyond the Individual-Social Antinomy in Discussions of Piaget and Vygotsky
Michael Cole and James. V. Wertsch, in Human Development, 1996:39:250-256.

Vygotsky and Context: Toward a Resolution of Theoretical Disputes 
in The Sociocultural Turn in Psychology: The Contextual Emergence of Mind and Self, 
Cole, M., Gajdamaschko, N., In, S. Kirschner, & J. Martin, J. (Eds) (2010). (pp. 253-280). 
New York, NY, US: Columbia University Press.

Internationalism in psychology: We need it now more than ever
Cole, M. (2006), in American Psychologist, 61(8), 904.

Remembering the Future,

Cole, Michael, Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition (13).

Socio-cultural-historical psychology: some general remarks and a proposal for a new kind of cultural genetic methodology
Cole, Michael, Edited by James Wertsh, Pablo del Rio, Amelia Alvarez (1995).

Interacting minds in a life-span perspective: a cultural-historical approach to culture and cognitive development
Cole, Michael.

On the study of culture and mind: Interview with Prof. Michael Cole, February 2011.

The cognitive consequences of education: Some empirical evidence of theoretical misgivings 
Cole, M., & Sharp, D., & Lave, J. (1976). The Urban Review, 9(4), 218-223.

The concept of literacy in print and film 
Cole, Michael, and Keyssar, Helene.

Culture and Cognitio 
Cole, M., & Cigagas, X.E. (2010)., In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.). Handbook of cultural developmental science. (pp. 127-142). New York, NY, US: Psychology Press.

Design experimentation as a theoretical and empirical tool for developmental pedagogical research. Nicolopoulou, A. & Cole, M. (2010). Pedagogies. An International Journal, 5 (1), 61 — 71.

Creating an Idioculture to Promote the Development of Children Who Have Suffered Cerebral Palsy 
Braga, L., Rossi, L., & Cole (2010), Educação e Contemporaneidade (Education in the Contemporary World).

Rethinking the Goody Myth 
Michael Cole, Jennifer Cole.

Contextual Factors in Education: Improving science and mathematics education for women and minorities (1987) 
Ed. Michael Cole, Peg Griffin, LCHC.

Phylogeny and cultural history in ontogeny 
Michael Cole 
(Available in Russian).

Zone of Proximal Development. (1985) Cole,Michael.

Cultural-Historical Activity Theory in the Family of Socio-Cultural Approaches International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development Newsletter. 47(1), 1-4 
by Cole, Michael.

Culture and Development
Cole, Michael.

Developmental Science; An Advanced Textbook

Current activity for the future 
in Children's Learning in the "Zone of Proximal Development" 
Peg Griffin and Mike Cole, 1984.

Can Cultural Psychology Help us Think About Diversity? 
Michael Cole, UCSD LCHC 1998.

Cultural Amplifiers Reconsidered 
Michael Cole and Peg Griffin, 1980, Ch. 15, pg. 343-364.

Contemporary Implications of Vygotsky and Luria 
Michael Cole and James V. Wertsch, 1996.

A Cultural Theory of Development: What does it Imply About the Application of Scientific Research? (1991). 
Michael Cole.

Vygotsky and Context Where did the Connection Come From and What Difference Does it Make? 
Michael Cole.

Reading Vygotsky 
(Preface to an edited collection of Vygotsky Writings by Rieber and Robineon). 
Michael Cole.

Comments on Commentaries About Cultural Psychology 
Michael Cole.

Ecological Niche Picking: Ecological Invalidity as an Axiom of Experimental Cognitive Psychology 
(Unpublished Manuscript) 
Michael Cole, Lois Hood, and Ray McDermott.

School's Invasion of “After-School”: Colonization, Rationalization, or Expansion of Access? (2003) 
Nocon, Honorine, Michael Cole.

Alexander Luria, Cultural Psychology and The Resolution of the Crisis in Psychology (1997) 
Michael Cole.

Culture and Cognitive Science 
A Talk Presented to the Cognitive Science Program, U.C. Santa Barbara, May 15, 1997. 
Michael Cole.

  • A translation of A Talk Presented to the Cognitive in Romanian.
  • A translation of A Talk Presented to the Cognitive in Polish

Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Katherine Brown and Michael Cole.

  • A translation of Cultural Historical Activity Theory in Swedish


The Illusion of Culture-free Intelligence Testing 
Cole, Michael.

A Cultural-Historical View of Human Nature (1998) 
Michael Cole and Karl Levitin.

Cultural-Historical Approaches to Designing for Development 
Cole, Michael and Engestöm, Yrjö.

Struggling with Complexity:The Handbook of Child Psychology at the Millennium (2000) 
Michael Cole.

Bruner and Hybridity 
Talk Presented at Symposium Honoring Jerome Bruner, Meetings of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, Nov. 17, 2000.

"Literate Mathematical Discourse: What it is and why should we care?" 
Anna Sfard, The University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel, 2002 
Michael Cole, University of California San Diego, USA.

We Have Met Technology and it is Us 
Michael Cole & Jan Derry

Figure 1

Figure 2

The Fate of Stages Past: Reflections on the Heterogeneity of Thinking from the Perspective of Cultural-historical Psychology 
Michael Cole and Eugene Subbotsky.

Beyond the Individual-social Antimony.pdf, (1996) 
Michael Cole, James V. Wertsch.

Promoting Service Learning as a Byproduct of Academically Oriented, Community Based Practicum Courses. 
Elaine Parent, Lars Rossen, LCHC.


Development and Education

Commentary on Conceptualizing Cultural and Racialized Process in Learning 
Michael Cole, in Human Development, 2012;55:340-347.

Influence of Schooling on Concept Formation 
Cole, M., and D'Andrade, R.

Situational Variability in the Speech of Preschool Children 
M. Cole, J. Dore, and W. S. Hall.

Literacy without School Testing for Intellectual Effects 
Sylvia Scribner and Mike Cole.

Socially-Shared Cognition: System Design and the Organization of Collaborative Research 
Katherine Brown and Michael Cole.

A Utopian Methodology as a Tool for Cultural and Critical Psychologies: Toward a Positive Critical Theory 
Katherine Brown and Michael Cole.

Schooling and Human Development 
Michael Cole.

Cross-cultural and Historical Perspectives on the Consequences of Education: Implications for the Future (November 1, 2002) 
Michael Cole.

Comparative Cognitive Research: Learning from a Learning Disabled Child (1981) 
Michael Cole, Ken Traupmann.

Individual and Collective Activities in Educational Computer Game Playing (1997) 
Victor Kaptelinin, Michael Cole.

A Model System Approach to Reading 
King, Griffin, Diaz, Cole.

New Technologies, Basic Skills: Language, Literacy and Culture 
Peg Griffin, Michael Cole.

A Socio-Historical Approach to Re-mediation 
Michael Cole and Peg Griffin.


Intervention Research

Design Experimentation and Mutual Appropriation: Two Strategies for University/Community Collaborative After-School Interventions 
Deborah Downing-Wilson, Robert Lecusay, and Michael Cole.

Cultural-Historical Approaches to Designing for Development 
Michael Cole & Yrjö Engeström.

Using Cross-Cultural Psychology to Design Afterschool, Educational Activities in Different Cultural Settings 
Michael Cole, 2005.

Youth Development FOCUS: A Monograph of the 4-H Center for Youth Development University of California, Davis 
Ketherine Brown and Michael Cole, 1997.

Documenting Children's Problem Solving Behaviors: Using Fieldnotes of Participant Observers 
Amy Olt, Michael Cole and Scott Woodbridge.

Sustaining Model Systems of Educational Activity: Designing for the Long Haul 
Paper Presented at Symposium Honoring the Work of Ann Brown (2001) 
Michael Cole.

Challenges to Studying Developmental Processes in Voluntary Afterschool Programs 
Prepared for AERA, April, 2001 
Michael Cole.

Designing implementing, sustaining, and evaluating idiocultures for learning and development: The case study of the Fifth Dimension. pg. 331 
Michael Cole.


Articulos en Espanol

Chapters from Psicología Cultural

Capitulo 5: Una metodología multinivel para la psicologí a cultural

Capitulo 10: Poner la cultura en el centro

Reinventando las prácticas educativas del pasado para lograr el éxito pedagógico del futuro
(April 8, 2011).

Cognicion y pensamiento

La zona de desarrollo proximo: donde cultura y conocimiento se generan mutuamente
Infancia y Aprendizaje, Mike Cole (1984).

Vygostky a los 100: teoria de la actividad cultural-historica como instrumento para el pensamiento
Michael Cole, Conferencia en Cuernavaca, Mexico (1996).

Una aproximacion socio-historica a la re-mediacion
Mike Cole y Peg Griffin (1989).

Articles in Russian

Изучение поведения в контексте: мезогенетический
Translation: The study of behavior in context: A mesogenetic methodology
Cultural-Historical Psychology 2015. Vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 55—68

культура и когнитивная наука
Translation: Culture and Cognitive Science

Translation: "Re-mediation, Diagnosis, Remediation" 
Mike Cole, & Peg Griffin, Esteban Diaz, Catherine King 1989.

Переплетение филогенетической и культурной в онтогенезе

Translation: "The interweaving of the Phylogenetic and Cultural-Historical in Ontogeny"

Translation: "Comments on Commentaries About Cultural Psychology.” 1994.

Размышления Над Портретом А.Р. Лурия
Translation: "A Portrait of Luria: 
An epilogue to the English language translation of A.R. Luria's autobiography, The Making of Mind."

Свобода и скованость человекеского действия
Translation: "Freedom and Constraint in Human Action" 
Michael Cole & James Wertsch, 2011.

Алехандр Лурия и Културная Психология

Translation: "Alexander Luria and Cultural Psychology."

Цоциальлно-исторический подход к переопосредствованию
Translation: "A cultural-historical approach to re-mediation", USSR 1998.



Interview (2006): The Role of Technology in Learning and Education, a movie.

Interview (1/2011) in: Europe's Journal of Psychology, February Issue 2011



At a tribute in La Jolla, CA, UCSD Professor Michael Cole speaks of his work in the Department of Communication.

Remembering Giyoo Hatano - wmv file.

Speeches at Michael Cole's retirement dinner, June 7, 2013

  • 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