General Objectives

Our Unit tries to envisage human being as a whole. As such it is crucial to study different perspectives. Multiple cognitive and developmental processes must be addressed. Multiple educational and social contexts must be investigated. The study of interpersonal settings for the transmission of social information is essential for understanding developmental processes that generate both communality and diversity in human adaptation.


In the last decades a renewed interest has emerged: to understand the primary role of early relationships for the development of optimal cognitive, affective and communicative abilities. These concerns are not entirely new. Already in the 1930’s, Vygotsky argued for the socio-cultural origins of cognitive development. From his perspective, children’s cognitive experience was socially rooted because it occurs first in an interpersonal context and only later becomes integrated on a personal psychological level. In other words, Vygotsky believed that knowledge is practiced in an intersubjective space between partners before being internalized and appropriated by the child. Modern researchers working within this tradition have refocused attention on processes of social construction – i.e., how adults differentially facilitate children’s cognitive development and learning. According to these theorists, children are first dependent on others for the regulation of thoughts and actions, but with the influence of adult “scaffolding” they become increasingly capable of effective self-regulation.


Alongside with these notions group processes assume an extremely important part in adolescence which needs to be understood. The comprehension of cognitive processes that underlie our entire action and interaction also seems to be an important tool.


Our Unit also addresses educational situations. Namely, learning and writing processes in preschool children and teachers’ role, representations and methodologies. Never forgetting the specific population of children with special needs in education.


Within this framework our research unit aims to study:


  1. How social experience affects the development of fundamental skills;
  2. How social context constrains the quality of child attachment and how a friendship with peers affects cognitive and affective development;
  3. How family and teacher’s literacy practices affects the processes of learning written language in early years of schooling;
  4. How social experience affects the construction of adolescents’ identity;
  5. How attitudes, values and beliefs about inclusive education of students, teachers and families affect the integration of children with special needs in schools and how the quality of early intervention practices in home and child care settings affects the development of children with special needs;
  6. How context affects relevant cognitive processes.

Horários e Contactos

Dias úteis

das 9:30h às 13:30h

+351 21 881 1700/ 77