04 SES 01 E, Improving Inclusive Teaching and Learning: Reflections from the Classroom
The paper takes its departure point from research on school inclusion, conceived in its broadest definition as quality learning and full participation for all (Booth and Ainscow 2011). On this broad background, the relevance of the micro level of classroom interactions has emerged. On one side, the significance of this level has been hypothesized on the basis of non-univocal findings of research that compares the macro levels of different school systems, such as inclusive versus special schooling (Lindsey 2007; Norwich & Kelly 2004). On the other side, the line of research that understands inclusion as a human right that needs to be granted (Stainback and Stainback 1990) has always put a great attention on the development of instrument, methods and practices for the meso and micro levels of schools and classrooms.
Our research project “INSIDE” aims at analyzing educational practices at the micro level of classroom interaction, focusing on those teachers’ communicative practices that can best enhance inclusion. In this paper, we will focus on corrective feedbacks.
Hattie defines Feedback as an “information provided by an agent (e.g. teacher, peer, book, parent or one’s own experience) about aspects of one’s performance or understanding” (Hattie 2009, 174). Its purpose is reducing the gap between current understandings/performance and a desired goal. He distinguishes four different levels (Hattie & Timperley 2007; Hattie, 2009).
- TASK LEVEL – the feedback addresses the task or the product
- PROCESS LEVEL- the feedback is aimed at the process used to create the product or complete the task
- SELF REGULATION LEVEL – the feedback is focused on the development of skills in self-evaluation or motivation and confidence to engage on a task
- SELF LEVEL – the feedback is personal, directed to the person beyond the task.
There is some evidence that feedback might play a relevant role for school inclusion, defined in terms of learning and participation for all on the highest possible level. Looking into the literature that aims at describing effective teaching for achievement, feedback plays a relevant role. Hattie (2009) in his popular work Visible Learning places Feedback on position 10 in a ranking that considers 138 elements from the school, teaching, teacher and student domains and orders them in accordance with the effect sizes reported in meta-analysis on achievement. In addition, for what the influence of Teacher Feedback on social integration and children’s peers preferences concerns, there are some works that demonstrate are connected (Huber 2011; White & Kistner 199).
In this paper, feedback will be investigated by applying a Conversation Analysis Approach (Sydnell & Stivers 2012), an approach to the study of language and human communication whereby interaction is studied based on naturalistic data, with the aim of describing the procedures used by social actors to produce and recognize interactional conduct. Taking its departure point from the fine-grained analysis of audio- and videorecordings and their transcriptions, scholars have thus extensively analysed the organization of teacher-student interaction – from the perspective of participants rather than based on pre-established categories.
Against this background, an extensive body of literature has been devoted to one of the main organization forms of classroom interaction, namely the so called “IRE sequence” (“teacher’s Initiation-student’s Reply- teacher’s Evaluation) (cf. Mehan 1979; Sinclair & Coulthard 1975). Specifically, scholars have explored teachers’ third-turn when the adequacy of the student’s response is treated as problematic, thus requiring some form of correction, examining how teachers can deliver correction themselves or, on the contrary, enhance students’ self-correction (cf. Weeks 1985) and thus provide opportunities for participation, for instance by reformulating the question (Zemel & Koschmann 2011), or by asking a next, more specific question (Lee 2007).
The project “INSIDE”, where the presented data come from, is based on audio- and videorecordings of classroom interaction; analysis is centered on the interaction between the teacher and the class during instructional conversation, as carried out in elementary schools in South Tyrol (Bolzano). Attention is thereby devoted to how communicative strategies employed by teachers (question design, feedback, error correction, scaffolding techniques etc., see for instance Weeks 1985; Lerner 1995; Macbeth 2004; Margutti 2006; Kohle & Elbers 2014) can enhance each pupil’s contribution to knowledge co-construction on the one hand, and can help to build a sense of belonging and participation to the class as a group on the other. Four primary school classes (grade 3) in a urban context of the Province of Bolzano (north East of Italy) build the sample. Two researchers have been in the class for one school morning and have collected data through audio- and videorecordings. Only episodes of instructional conversations between teachers and the whole class (“dialogical teaching”, all-class instruction) have been considered for the analysis. The sample is selected on voluntary basis. Classroom interaction data are transcribed and analyzed within the theoretical framework of Conversation Analysis (Sydnell & Stivers 2012). The presented analysis will focus on different forms of corrective feedbacks in the context of IRE sequences, and their relevance in terms of participation and language co-construction.
Aiming at highlighting the ways in which teachers, in the context of IRE sequences, deal with students’ answers that are not considered “correct” or “appropriate”, the study will first of all provide an overview of strategies employed to deliver corrective feedback – such as for instance hesitant acknowledgment tockens (“yes?”), recast requests, question reformulations and next questions, as well as hints, suggestions, and help requests to the class, and their combined occurance – as employed by different teachers in the examined corpus. Particular attention will be then devoted to episodes in which a pupil (repeatedly) fails to provide the expected answer and further pupils are recruited through help requests, giving rise to collaborative sequences within the class. The different ways in which teachers provide negative feedback and manage to move interaction forward will thus be discussed from an inclusive perspective, reflecting on how and insofar they contribute to enhance learning and participation for all, as envisioned in inclusive education.
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