Olga decided to be a psychologist
rather early and professional activities of her parents
had greatly influenced this choice. Yet a schoolgirl,
Olga accompanied her father to
various psychological conferences, where she god inspired by the spirit of
scientific research. Olga’s deliberate scientific education had begun when she
entered Moscow State
faculty of psychology, where she had a chance to attend courses led by
brilliant Russian psychologists – A.V. Zaporozhets, A.N. Leontyev, A.R. Luriya,
P.Y. Galperin, D.B. Elkonin and others.
It was the time when Olga first
turned her professional attention to child psychology. Having studied works of L.A.Venger, she started to do research under
his scientific guidance. The problem, that got Olga interested, was development
of general image-thinking forms of preschoolers’ cognition, and schematized
notions in particular. This problem constituted the basis of her Ph.D. thesis.
During her research, Olga had succeeded to show that preschoolers are able to
reflect reality through schematized images (in which reality is represented in
its most substantial aspects, rather than in all its diversity, important for
coping with particular class of tasks). These works had defined major lines of
the laboratory’s future research.
In accordance with L.S. Vygotsky’s
theory, psychological development of a child rests on mastering system of tools
defined by culture. Olga believed that these tools must be represented by
existing external objects that reflect certain peculiarities of some given
situation. L.V. Venger suggested a theory in which he had described the basics
of visual modeling used for solving various cognitive tasks. Those visual
models were used as forms of generalized reality, which allowed working out a
program for their intentional formation. Olga got actively involved in research
process on ways to build such program, believing that the L.A. Venger’s theory
of cognitive development must be supplemented with processes of creativity in
order to be complete. Olga’s significant contribution was her success in
presenting visual model as a way of building an image that promotes
preschooler’s creative activity.
researches were dedicated to processes of imagination development. While L.A.
Venger proceeded along the path of folding reality’s diversity into a
schematized image, Olga went counter to it – from schematized image to rich imagery
of imagination. One of the examples of this approach is the system of child’s
imagination development activities proposed by Olga Diachenko that had become psychology’s
classics. Researches of Olga and her laboratory colleagues leaded by L.A.
Venger made possible creation of an integral program for complete cognitive
development of preschoolers. They created, for the first time in the history of
science, a technology that used definite mechanisms to form various aspects of
child’s cognitive abilities. This program, called "Razvitie" ("Development"),
had turned to be highly
effective: over 3000 preschool educational establishments still use it in their
educational process. For this outstanding achievement the authors of this
program were awarded Russian Governmental Prize in 1997.
L.A. Venger’ laboratory was the first in the country to start purposeful
support of gifted preschool children by creation of "Odarenniy rebenok" ("Gifted child") program
aimed at senior preschoolers. Parallel to creation of these programs, Olga was
taking active part in development of preschool children’s psychological
development diagnostic methods which allowed discerning gifted children
starting at the age of five. Results of research on education of gifted
children based on observation had proved effectiveness and advisability of educational
work in groups for gifted preschoolers.
experience of educational work with preschoolers lead to problem definition on
individual peculiarities of preschoolers’ cognitive development, which was
successfully solved in the series of research work conducted under Olga’s
scientific guidance. It had been proved that children’s preferences for coping
with certain types of tasks are formed at preschool age.
major challenge of Olga’s scientific work in her last years was the nature of
regulation types in preschoolers’ cognitive development. In her collaborative
research with N.E. Veraksa the existence of various forms of regulation of
cognitive activity was stated and proved.