Activity theory

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The Activity Triangle Model or activity system representationally outlines the various components of an activity system into a unified whole. Participants in an activity are portrayed as subjects interacting with objects to achieve desired outcomes. In the meanwhile, human interactions with each other and with objects of the environment are mediated through the use of tools, rules and division of labour. Mediators represent the nature of relationships that exist within and between participants of an activity in a given community of practices. This approach to modelling various aspects of human activity draws the researcher s attention to factors to consider when developing a learning system. However, activity theory does not include a theory of learning, (Daisy Mwanza & Yrjö Engeström, ????)

See also: Expansive learning, change laboratory




  • Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.
  • Engeström, Y. (1999a) Innovative learning in work teams: Analyzing cycles of knowledge creation in practice. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen & R.-L-. Punamäki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory, (pp. 377-404). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Engeström, Y. (1999b) Activity Theory and individual and social transformation, in Yrjö Engeström, Reijo Miettinen and Raija-Leena Punamäki (Eds), Perspectives on Activity Theory, Cambridge University Press (462 p.), pp.19-38.
  • Kuutti, K. (1996) Activity Theory as a Potential Framework for Human-Computer, Interaction Research. In context and consciousness: Activity theory and human computer interaction (ed. B.A. Nardi) pp. 17-44. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA
  • Leont'ev, A. N. (1974). The problem of activity in psychology. Soviet Psychology 13(2): 4-33
  • Mwanza, D & Engeström, Y. (2005) "Managing Content in e-Learning Environments." British Journal of Educational Technology, (Ed. N. Rushby), Vol. 36 (3), PP.453-463, British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, Blackwell Science Ltd, UK.
  • Mwanza, D. and Engeström, Y. (2003). Pedagogical Adeptness in the Design of E-learning Environments: Experiences from the Lab@Future Project. In: Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2003, 7-11 Nov 2003, Phoenix, USA.
  • Nardi, B. A. (1996). Context and Consciousness, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England.