Eliciting Collective Responses in the Classroom: When the Class Acts in Unison

By:
Piera Margutti Cirnigliaro
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The classroom is one of the major sites, besides the family, where young people experience for the first time interaction as a social practice and the relevance of their behaviour as individuals or as members of larger social units. Therefore, exploring turn taking practices that are designed to elicit choral responses in such a prominent institutional activity might shed light on practices for collective participation in social activities. In Italian primary school classes teacher-led instructional sequences constitute the core part of the lesson. One structural feature of this particular setting is their being shaped as question-answer sequences. The interaction in this environment is organized as to accommodate either individuals or an association of recipients as respondents. In this setting pupils display that they feel entitled to respond either as single persons or as members of the class-group, acting in unison.

This paper uses conversation analysis to investigate one main practice that teachers frequently use to address the class as a group. Data are video-recorded lessons in two 3rd-year primary school classes. Following the teachers' withholding of part of one word/sentence pupils provide the completion through a choral incoming. This phenomenon has been described mainly as a way to solve problems of recipiency in large classes, and to curtail the participation of pupils. By examining the particular contexts where this device is deployed and the features of turn construction, it will be shown that, besides regaining control over a competitive environment, this practice is used to accomplish two other types of actions that embody the institutional goal of the formal instructional context and the pedagogic agenda: a) eliciting a collective appreciation of a previous individual answer; b) prompting a candidate answer.


Keywords: Classroom Interaction, Instructional sequences, Collective versus Individual Responses, Speaker Selection, Classroom Interaction
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Piera Margutti Cirnigliaro

Researcher, Department of Communication Studies, Università per Stranieri di Perugia
Italy

My interest in interaction has led me to join the Department of Sociology of the University of York where I achieved my DPhil working on classroom interaction in Primary School classes. I run a research project in Italy with video-recorded data in Secondary School classes. However, I have studied also other types of interaction that takes place in ordinary settings and in multilingual environment, such as family telephone calls or family encounters in Italo-Australian families and Italian visitors. My work as a researcher at the University in Perugia involves also the investigation of fields connected with Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Teaching.

Ref: L05P0240