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Literature Trace II (by Sterling Jenson and Tiffany Roman)

This literature trace focuses on the methodological issues of analyzing classroom discourse from the perspective of Cazden (2001) and Azmitia (1996).
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Tiffany Roman

on 25 April 2010

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Transcript of Literature Trace II (by Sterling Jenson and Tiffany Roman)

Examining the intersection between the questions or area of focus
undertaken by researchers and the methods they use
A literature trace presented by Sterling Jenson and Tiffany Roman
Bias affects how you interpret discourse
Discourse of children should not be analyzed same way as adults
No "right" method of transcription
- "In no sense should there be one mode
of transcription that captures all
research aims and all developmental
stages" (p. 49).
Non-verbal behavior as form of communication
Cultural norms affect discourse (favor middle class white population)
Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Analyzing collaborative discourse. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (pp. 225-242). New York: Cambridge University Press. Final Note (if time allows):

When Sawyer references Azmitia, he states that "students may need explicit coaching in how to participate effectively in collaboration" (p.196). It seems that Sawyer is interpreting Azmitia's work as prescriptive, however, Azmitia (from our interpretation) does not intend her work to be interpreted as such. Personally, I (Tiffany) am reminded of those who misinterpret Gene Lave's concept of Communities of Practice as being prescriptive. Professor of Psychology at UC Santa Cruz

"Margarita Azmitia's principal areas of interest are the social and cultural contexts of development. She is pursuing three lines of research: the contribution of children's and adolescents' friendships and peer acceptance to cognition and self-esteem, the contribution of family and peers to minority students' academic achievement, adjustment, and identity development, and the role of collaboration in the development of scientific understanding. "

From: http://psych.ucsc.edu/directory/details.php?id=2
"Before reviewing the specific age-related changes in collaborative skills, it is important to point out that even though our ability to collaborate increases with age, collaboration is challenging across the life span" (Azmitia 1996, p. 137). Partners work to "co-construct the solution" (Azmitia, p. 139).
Partners must justify their reasoning when partners challenge their views
The process of collaboration helps to highlight "contradictions and inadequacies in [an individual's] thinking" (Azmitia, p.145).
This process improves participant's conceptual understanding Benefits of Collaboration Collaboration Between Preschool Children Preschool age children are highly egocentric
Children often have limited interactive skills which makes it difficult to coordinate or resolve conflicts
Interaction skills at this age are tied to familiar contexts
Preschool "experts" at a task try to dominate the collaboration
Focused on exact contributions
Ability to interact with others improves at this age
Children are more able to renegotiate tasks because "expert" adolescents are more willing to listen to point of view and arguments of someone more "novice"
Increased willingness to take turns working on a project
Not always able to create and transform knowledge, and when they do, not all children/adolescents display discoveries at later time
More generally, children take into consideration social standing
Azmitia argues that group collaboration tends to be more "Machiavellian" in nature than the views presented by Piaget
Group work with Grade School/Adolescents Benefits of collaboration do not always appear immediately
Older adults may learn better than younger adults through collaboration
Adults tend to be more willing to accept ambiguity and flexible with their views thus are able to collaborate better
Importance of reflection in learning information Adult Collaboration Impact of Friendship on Collaboration Friends vs. Acquaintances in group work
Friends have previous understanding of another friend's needs and goals
Friends have a higher level of trust than acquaintances
Friends tend to have greater respect for another friend's views and often reflect longer on their friend's comments
Friends have more at stake and therefore have a motivation to roles and meaning What are the benefits and disadvantages of working with friends versus working with acquaintances?

Given what you know about the methods of analyzing collaborative discourse from Sawyer, how might a researcher transcribe the discourse of friends vs. acquaintances differently, given the development stages of the peers? Amzitia's thoughts on the downsides of relying on friendship for group work The strength of a friendship can vary to the point that some of these benefits are not present
Assigning acquaintances to work together helps to stretch individuals Background on Margarita Azmitia Analyzing Collaborative Discourse
Ochs, E. (1979) Transcription as Theory Sawyer, K. (2006) Azmitia, M. (1996)
Cazden, C. (2001) Variations in
Lesson Structure

In P. Baltes & U. Staudinger (Eds.), Interactive minds: Life-span perspectives on the social foundation of cognition (pp. 133-162). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Peer Interactive Minds Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Trace Back Trace Forward Transition to the trace forward: "One condition essential to education is to communicate, to understand and be understood" AND "to keep this condition constant despite differences in purposes, size of group, medium of instruction, and participants" (p. 76)
Ideas explored
Teachers talk less/students talk more
Student initiate speech
Students address each other directly
Note: "Real discussion" can be difficult to locate/create (P572 is a unique example)
Traditional speaking rights (typically controlled by teacher)
Challenging for students to address each other directly


Shift away from teacher nominated speakers
Teacher encouragement of alternate discourse
Helps if students have familiarity with teacher
Arrangement of environment (rows vs. clusters vs. circle)
Failure to note eye gaze
º Student tendency to look at the teacher
º Child's speech validated by the teacher
Researchers do not often note absence of talk, placement, and duration of silence Change of intent requires different conception of knowledge and teaching
Different kinds of knowledge require a different kind of discourse structure
º Declarative statements
º Reflective statements
º Invitation to elaborate
º Silence Teacher reaction to talk
"Increase wait time after a student response" (Rowe, 1986)
º Typically 1 second wait time
º Increase to at least 3 second wait time after student finishes talking
Change from systems view standpoint
º Teacher responds with greater flexibility
º Teacher asks fewer questions, responds with greater flexibility
º Teacher becomes more adept at using student responses
º Previously invisible students become visible
º Student no longer respond to teacher questions Pace "Real discussion" characteristics: Features of traditional classroom discourse
Alternate discourse features (again think of P572)
Transcription issues for researchers Connecting to Ochs (1979)
Transcription as Theory Speech Style Shift in change in speaking rights
º Exploratory talk, more "planned" than "unplanned" (Ochs, 1979)
Purpose can change quickly (lesson/discussion)

One-to-one, "share time" [one-to-one in front of class], groups
Merritt discusses "service-like events" (p. 63)
º Student tries to get teacher's attention
Changing size of student groups and individualizing teacher/student interaction does not change structure of classroom discourse (Merritt and Meier)
º Purpose of talk must shift
º Increase control by students Participants Medium of Interaction Mehan conducted semester long college class (on classroom interaction) through email*
Discussion pursued multiple threads
Reference to class discussion as a whole
Longer (more thoughtful) responses
Teacher evaluation almost totally absent
More student response to peer work
Culture Most important influence on all talk is "participants themselves" and their expectations about interactions/perceptions of each other
Variations in classroom discourse based on students' home culture
Classroom culture of its own (phenomenon is not natural) New Patterns of Interaction Can assist teachers to design new pattern of interaction (e.g. work of Heath, KEEP in Hawaii)
Often discontinuity between home and school for children
Children learn situative appropriate ways of speaking and to shift effectively between them Think of an ineffective classroom discussion you've experienced. If you could be a design researcher in that scenario, what modifications would you make given what you know about development, theory, and methods of classroom discourse?

For your research proposal, how are you negotiating the intersection between your research question(s) and the methods you select? Ochs' points out that it is difficult to determine what or who young children are responding to
Sawyer also references that young children often refer to what they said last rather than their partner said Sawyer references study on 13 year olds "Ari" and "Gur" (p. 196).
Different goals present - "Gur" focused on the interaction itself and "Ari" focused on solving the math problem
Problem solving requires trade-offs between managing communication and engaging in individual thinking
As noted previously, Sawyer (2006) is interested in methods and suggests "interaction analysis provides the researcher with a method to study how peer groups learn without a teacher present" (p. 200). Azmitia interest is in the unit of analysis on this topic. Sawyer provides an example of improved conceptual understanding
References students who focus on notes at the beginning of group work and then shift their focus to their peers (p. 198).
Sawyer states many learning scientists argue knowledge is "first collective and external - manifest in conversation - and then becomes externalized" (p. 191). As we examine the INTERSECTION between one's research question/area of focus (Azmitia) and methods (Sawyer), consider this question:

For a researcher interested in transcribing PEER discourse, does the developmental stage of a person and whether or not a person is working with a friend likely to affect the discourse that transpires (and would this have implications on how the researcher chooses to transcribe the discourse?) Sawyer (2006) concludes:

There is a lack of research of discourse related to non-teacher interaction and outside of school collaboration

Interaction analysis provides the researcher with a method to show how peer groups learn without a teacher present.
Azmitia (1996) examines:

Non-teacher interaction of peer work

The developmental changes that affect discourse

The differences between peer work with friends vs. acquaintances As we examine the INTERSECTION between one's research question/area of focus (Cazden) and methods (Ochs), consider this question:

For a researcher interested in transcribing CLASSROOM discourse, do the specific features of classroom discourse (e.g. educational purposes for talk, number of participants, medium of interactions, cultural differences) affect the discourse that transpires (and would this have implications on how the researcher chooses to transcribe the discourse?)
Cazden (2001) examines: Specific features of classroom discourse that researchers/ teachers may want to change
IRE is the "default pattern" - teacher initiation, student response, and teacher evaluation
Alternatives to IRE reflect differences in: 1. Educational purposes for talk
2. Number of participants
3. Medium of interactions
4. Cultural differences
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