Connecting dots: A British Family in Reminiscence

Kyoko Murakami & Rachel L. Jacobs, University of Bath, UK/University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Reminiscence is a self-reflecting process on past events and experiences. Not only does it enable past experiences to be brought to light through talk, but it also creates an affective environment, which allows participants to explore and construct a representation of the self (Buchanan and Middleton, 1995). A reminiscence conversation is a dynamic talk-in-interaction, which can produce valuable learning experience for the participants involved. Reminiscence talk contains rich, personal, historic data that can reveal and inform family members of an unknown past. In this presentation, we shall present a discursive approach, a methodology that captures the dynamics of reminiscence. We analyse collected conversational data of British family members reminiscing their past as a joint family activity. Through such talk-in-interaction, the family members develop continuity in the family history. We shall explore how intergenerational relationships are formed through associations with membership categories and can reveal how vital information is passed onto future generations. Unlike conventional reminiscence used for therapeutic purposes, family reminiscence is a learning practice of connecting the dots of recalled moments of individual family members lives and is geared toward building a family’s shared future for posterity.

Skilled and unskilled driving practices

Kristian Mortensen & Johannes Wagner, University of Southern Denmark

The data for this paper are collected at training courses for forklift drivers in a Danish workplace education center.  Forklift drivers need to participate in a 7 days full time course that covers a theoretical and a practical part. The practical part of the courses consists of a variety of tasks. To receive a certificate the drivers need to pass a theoretical and practical exam at the end of the course. However, companies employees often start driving trucks in their workplace without any certificate and gain years of practical experience before they take their certificate. The courses therefore have skilled and unskilled participants doing the same tasks.

In the data collection, three different trucks have been followed for a week with three internal cameras and one to two external cameras following each truck.  This multi camera array allows a detailed picture of the trucks movement, the drivers’ gaze and bodily behavior.

This paper is interested to describe how drivers can be seen to be skilled or unskilled.  Two task solving sequences have been selected with two drivers with apparently different skills.  The analysts first impression have then been informed by the written statement of nearly 100 forklift teachers who have watched the video clips and commented on the skill level of the drivers.  A microanalysis of the activities in both video sequences has then be made to flesh out what the initial skill assessment might have registered as indicative for the drivers’ skill level.

The ‘black box’ of reflection: a discursive approach to collaborative reflective practice in medical education

Mario Veen & Anne de la Croix, Erasmus MC, Department of General Practice, The Netherlands

Reflective practice in medical education is often approached from a cognitive perspective. However,  learning in a group is an interactional achievement. We therefore feel it is relevant to study the sequential nature of group interaction in collaborative reflection.

In The Netherlands, all General Practice training programs contain regular sessions in which GP trainees share their experiences.  Despite this being common practice, we found no previous research into the structure and process of these sessions. The purpose of this study is to describe the structure and interactive characteristics of group reflection. Attention will be given to the role of the tutor, the GP resident who reports a case for discussion, and other participants.

Between 2010 and 2011, 47 experience-sharing sessions of 13 different groups were recorded and transcribed verbatim.  Conversation Analysis (CA) has been used to study the reflection meetings, focusing on the structure of the sessions and the way in which the group interaction develops. As is tradition in CA, turn taking and negotiation of interactional sequences are studied carefully.

Four elements were identified in each case discussion: 1. Incident, 2. Reason for sharing, 3. Learning Issues, and 4. Learning Uptakes.  Transitions between these elements were conversationally complex, with visible negotiations between group tutor(s), narrator, and group about the way in which the group conversation move forward. The role of the tutor in the transitions between the elements is very important as the tutor’s interactional behavior is part of the hidden curriculum.

Even without a formal format in which experiences are shared, common elements were found in each case discussion. CA focuses on the interaction in group learning and shows how the interaction is part of what is learned and how the learning takes place.

Ratifying unsolicited displays of insights

Catherine E. Brouwer, University of Southern Denmark

This study is based on videorecorded interactional data from a specific type of institutional setting which consists of a variety of  ‘language stimulation activities’ for bilingual children in Danish preschools. Bilingual children, with a variety of linguistic backgrounds, take part in these activities in small groups together with a specialized preschool teacher. One pervasive feature of this kind of data is the ongoing orientation to, and guidance from the adult towards the children on what the main business of their interaction is – what they relevantly are doing. In this light, the paper explores childrens’ unsolicited displays of insights or understandings, particularly displays which can not readily be understood as inherent to the structured activity at hand. The analysis pinpoints the ways in which such displays may or may not be treated as relevant for the business at hand: Unsolicited displays may lead to side sequences, they may lead to a shift in the main business of the talk, or they may be explicitly or implicitly ignored. The paper discusses whether and how these unsolicited displays of understanding then can be thought of as leading to opportunities for (language) learning and contrasts it to the widely studied IRF/IRE pattern in educational contexts. The activities were videotaped, transcribed and analysed according to principles and procedures of Conversation Analysis.

Are student answers to teacher known-answer questions indication of learning?

Piera Margutti, Università per Stranieri Perugia, Italy

Are student answers to teacher known-answer questions indication of learning?rnPiera MarguttirnrnInteraction is a primordial site of instruction. In Western cultures, formal instruction is predominantly organized as three-part sequences (question–answer?assessment), shaping classroom teaching activities (Well 1993, Nassaji & Wells 2000, Lee 2006, Lyle 2008, Nassaji & Wells 2000) and, presumably, learning processes (Macbeth 2011). However, if the organization of teaching has long been documented in literature, no equal effort has been done to learning. Whereas teacher actions, such as questions and feedbacks, are viewed as indication of hidden decisions about pedagogic approaches ( i.e. dialogic and interactive vs. monologic and traditional) and, thus, observable evidence for the ‘teaching’ side of the instruction process, student answers are not equally viewed as evidence for learning.

Based on video-recordings of plenary instruction sequences in two 3rd-year whole-class primary school, the paper investigates the students’ answering activity. Plenary instruction sessions is a context where pupils happen to respond simultaneously, often using different resources. The analysis shows that answering in this context is not only the matter of wording the expected item, but a far more complex activity, entailing choices (design, word selection, timing, resources), each accomplishing a different coverage of the question requirements. Moreover, format and placement of the answer also display how students worked out their answers, each moving from a different basis (grammar, content, prior talk).

By investigating the resources pupils employ to answer (whether linguistic, verbal, or/and using the body as a means to convey meaning), and by looking at their placement in talk (whether prematurely deployed, occurring at transition-relevance points, or delayed) I will show that, in each case, although all appropriately responding to the question, pupils display a different understanding of the question and of its agenda. I demonstrate that the features of answer construction shed lights into pupils’ understanding of the question: that is, whether it is understood as part of the whole overarching pedagogic project of the lesson ? thus, capturing its implication for further development and reaching back to prior talk?, or merely on the grounds of its local and specific constraints and requirements (Margutti 2006). I argue that, in the former case, these answers can index that instruction has occurred as “the production of new understandings” (Koschmann 2011: 436) and, thus, as the result of learning.

Epistemic incongruence in question-answer sequences as part of doing second language learning in pair work situations

Fredrik Rusk, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Several strands of classroom research show that teachers often ask questions, with an interrogative syntax, to which they already know the answer. Using conversation analytical (CA) terms regarding epistemics the teacher takes an incongruent stance and appears less knowledgable when asking these questions. Reasons for the teacher to ask incongruent interrogatives are several (e.g. to evaluate students’ understanding and/or learning) and they seem to be a common part of the talk-in-interaction in classrooms and thus do the actions they promote seem to be of importance to participants in the classroom. CA studies on second language (L2) classrooms that study exam questions have mostly investigated whole-class discussions and not pair work, which is promoted in modern communicative language pedagogies. It would therefore be of interest to investigate its role in the doing of L2 learning in pair work situations.

The aim of this study is to investigate the use of incongruent interrogatives as part of doing L2 learning and as part of the dynamic epistemic relationships at play. The data consists of video recordings from two second language (L2) educational settings; a content-based Finnish as a L2 program for 7-year-old children and classroom tandem courses (Finnish and Swedish as L2) for 16-year-old students. The focus is on situations in which a more knowledgable participant asks an incongruent interrogative question regarding the current task in response to the less knowledgable participant’s display of unknowing in pair work situations.

The results show that the interaction seems to run smoothly if the L2 learner knows or with only little help knows the answer to the problem. But if the L2 learner truly is unknowing it may be hard for him/her to convey this to the more knowledgable co-participant, since the incongruent interrogative rejects the L2 learner as unknowing. The accountability of knowledge and rejection of a participant’s right to his/her own knowledge becomes apparent. The practice of asking an incongruent interrogative also seems to be a way for the participants to construct the roles of L2 learner and teacher. With a perspective on learning as an activity that participants do it seems that the incongruent interrogative in these situations is specifically designed and used with regards to doing L2 learning. Especially in dyadic interaction where the accountability of who has or has not learned what becomes evident.