19 SES 02 B, Ethnographies of Pedagogic Innovation and Learning
Norway has major challenges with regard to both recruitment of pupils into science and technology (STEM) subjects, as well as pupil results within the same subjects (Nilsen & Frøyland, 2016; Kunnskapsdepartementet, 2014, 2016; Utdanningsdirektoratet, 2015). The Norwegian education authorities have for more than two decades initiated several measures to improve the situation. Part of these measures include cooperation with the business sector to promote interest in STEM subjects within compulsory education (Kunnskapsdepartementet, 2015). One example is the work initiated by the foundation FIRST Scandinavia, comprising a cooperation with school owners and businesses, to provide a practice-oriented approach to STEM education through so-called Newton-rooms. A Newton-room is a learning arena shared by schools in a municipality. The room has state-of-the-art STEM equipment, often sponsored by the involved businesses, for exploratory, investigative teaching and learning within STEM subjects. The school owners are responsible for the activities in the rooms, which are carried out by teachers who have received specific training regarding the 'learning modules' that are offered at the rooms. Typically, the pupils visit the Newton-room once or twice each school year together with their class. The class does preparatory work at the school before the visit, and also follow-up work after the visit. During the visit in the Newton-room, the pupils attend lectures provided by the Newton-teacher and work in groups to solve different practical problems. These activities are carried out in groups of two to four pupils, during which they make use of state-of-the-art equipment that is provided in the Newton-rooms, equipment that the individual schools are - usually - unable to fund on their own. The research presented here is part of a larger preparatory project entitled: Newton-rooms as an arena for learning and recruitment. The overarching aim of the project is to develop a research design for a large-scale project focusing on Newton-rooms as an arena for learning and recruitment. In the current paper, we focus on one part of this research design, the analysis of video recordings of the group activities in the Newton-rooms. We focus on pupils' social interaction and social organisation with a focus on cooperation and learning practices in the specific contexts of the Newton-rooms.
Previous research indicates that we have a much better understanding of the social organisation in traditional, teacher-centred classes, than what we have of less teacher-centred, more task-based classes, regarding both large and small groups (Gardner, 2012). Nevertheless, there is still a body of research on peers' interactions and learning, especially on peers' language learning in groups. For example, peers involved in language learning and instruction have been shown to orient to and co-construct roles as the "teacher" and the "learner" (Lilja, 2014). Peers also employ similar interactional resources for learning in interaction, as is common in pupil-teacher interaction (Jakonen & Morton, 2015; Rusk, Sahlström & Pörn, 2017), and in forms of language play that are similar to form-focused language drills and teaching activities (Cekaite, 2006; Melander, 2012; Sahlström, 2011). Within this body of research, there is still room to expand the understanding of how specific practices in the locally situated contexts appear to afford learning in peer-to-peer situations. In the research reported here, we focus on how pupils orient to and co-construct roles in group work, and whether these roles are based on negotiations of locally relevant STEM knowledge when solving the problems and completing the tasks. That is, the focus is both on the social organisation of the group, as well as the epistemic relationships that are oriented to, and made relevant, in the immediately local contexts of the Newton-rooms.
The study employs video recordings and a participant's perspective on the analysis in the study of groups' social practices in the Newton-rooms. We analyse in detail the pupils' social practices during group work, using conversation analysis (CA) (Schegloff, 2007) to investigate the social organisation, the organisation of epistemic relationships, and orientation to task content (Heritage, 2012). CA employs a participant's perspective according to which the organisations of talk-in-interaction are not automatic running processes; they are on-going sense-making practices of participants' social interaction (Schegloff, 2007). Participants' understanding of the actual situations is in the centre of the analysis, which is based on systematic empirical findings in naturally occurring settings (Schegloff, 2007). The focus is on how, or if, the pupils make their knowledge regarding the current task relevant for the purposes of their situated interaction and cooperation. Recent studies on the epistemics of interaction have established that the management of knowledge is key to understanding issues of cooperation, affiliation, and sociality in human interaction (Heritage 2012). The dynamic relationships between participants' knowledge of oriented-to learning object(s) are vital in the practices used to express one's own knowing and understanding, as well as to understand other's expressed knowing. The management of knowledge is often actualised in the interaction in educational institutions between pupils in group work assignments, where they are given space to express their knowing and thinking (Melander & Sahlström, 2010; Rusk, Sahlström & Pörn, 2017). The main part of the analysis includes aspects that participants make relevant and categories, actions, and activities that participants co-construct in their interaction then and there. The primary method of documenting the interaction in this line of analysis is video. The data used in this study is part of data collected by the research project Newton-rooms as an arena for learning and recruitment. The recordings include videos from three Newton-rooms teaching one module each to one class of pupils each (ranging in ages from 11-17 years old). The modules include both plenary teaching as well as pupil group/pair work. The video data amounts to approximately 40 hours in total. The recordings are organised to capture both the plenary teaching, as well as the group work (focusing on one or several groups). In this way, there is a better possibility of studying and analysing the situated and contextual social organisation of the groups during the group activities (Rusk, Pörn, Sahlström & Slotte-Lüttge, 2014).
The preliminary results of the study indicates that group work, cooperation, and the negotiation of shared, locally established, pedagogical foci is not a straight forward practice when pupils organise themselves in group or pair work. However, the management of knowledge that is relevant to the oriented-to task appears to be a way for participants-and analysts alike-to understand the issues of cooperation and sociality in the social interaction during group and pair work. The analysis also indicates that the groups often tend to orient to one person for taking the final decisions regarding how to solve tasks and move forward. Nevertheless, this does not appear to be informed by an explicit negotiation regarding who has more knowledge that is relevant for accomplishing the tasks. Instead, it appears to be that this participant is the one who is in the position of asking the questions. This has previously been connected to having, in part, control of the conversation (Hayano, 2012; Sacks, 1995). The format of the assignments opens up for creative problem solving. The solution(s) to the assignments may be found in-and-through exploratory and investigative group and pair work, and the pupils are free to explore these. There is no specific, preselected, answer or question and this appears to open up for relevant STEM knowledge becoming the focus of talk 'when needed'. That is, relevant knowledge or information become locally emergent learning objects that are shared with the group to find a solution to them. These learning objects are unpredictable, since they are discovered by participants, themselves, and therefore vary across groups in a single Newton-room. When pupils are given the responsibility for the interactional management of knowledge, they exercise agency by discovering, in concert with each other, their own learning objects and deploy interactional resources in working on them.
Cekaite, A. (2006). Getting started. Linköping University. Gardner, R. (2012). Conversation Analysis in the Classroom. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis (pp. 593-611). Wiley-Blackwell. Hayano, K. (2012). Question Design in Conversation. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis (pp. 395-414). Wiley-Blackwell. Jakonen, T., & Morton, T. (2015). Epistemic Search Sequences in Peer Interaction in a Content-based Language Classroom. Applied linguistics, 36(1), 73-94. Kunnskapsdepartementet (2014). REALFAG, Relevante - Engasjerende - Attraktive - Lære- rike. Rapport fra ekspertgruppa for realfagene. Oslo: Kunnskapsdepartementet. Kunnskapsdepartementet (2015). Tett på realfag. Nasjonal strategi for realfag i barnehagen og grunnopplæringen (2015-2019). Oslo: Kunnskapsdepartementet. Kunnskapsdepartementet (2016). Meld. St. 28 2015-16. Fag - Fordypning - Forståelse. En fornyelse av Kunnskapsløftet. Oslo: Kunnskapsdepartementet. Utdanningsdirektoratet. (2015). Naturfagene i norsk skole, anno 2015. Rapport fra ekstern arbeidsgruppe oppnevnt av Utdanningsdirektoratet. Oslo: Utdanningsdirektoratet. Lilja, N. (2014). Partial repetitions as other-initiations of repair in second language talk: Re-establishing understanding and doing learning. Journal of Pragmatics, 71, 98-116. Melander, H. (2012). Transformations of knowledge within a peer group. Knowing and learning in interaction. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 1(3-4), 232-248. Melander, H., & Sahlström, F. (2010). Lärande i interaktion. Stockholm: Liber. Nilsen, T. & Frøyland, M. (2016): Undervisning i naturfag. I Bergem, O.K.; Kaarstein, H. & Nilsen, T. (red.): Vi kan lykkes med realfag. Resultater og analyser fra TIMSS 2015 (pp. 137-157). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Rusk, F., Pörn, M., Sahlström, F., & Slotte-Lüttge, A. (2014). Perspectives on using video recordings in conversation analytical studies on learning in interaction. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 38(1), 39-55. Rusk, F., Sahlström, F., & Pörn, M. (2017). Initiating and carrying out L2 instruction by asking known-answer questions: Incongruent interrogative practices in bi- and multilingual peer interaction. Linguistics and Education, 38, 55-67. Sacks, H. (1995). Lectures on conversation. Oxford: Blackwell. Sahlström, F. (2011). Learning as social action. In J. K. Hall, J. Hellermann, & S. Pekarek Doehler (Eds.), L2 Interactional Competence and Development (Vol. 3, pp. 43-62). Bristol Buffalo Toronto: Multilingual Matters. Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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