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From participation to contribution: Learning, teaching and researching in a collaborative classroom

MacCallum, J. and Morcom, V. (2015) From participation to contribution: Learning, teaching and researching in a collaborative classroom. In: 16th Biennial Earli Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, 25 - 29 August 2015, Limassol, Cyprus

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In this paper we examine participation processes to develop a collaborative primary school classroom in which all students had opportunities to contribute to transforming classroom practices. It is informed by Stetsenko’s reconstruction of Vygotskian sociocultural concepts, proposing a transformative activist stance perspective, which defines learning as “contributing to collaborative practices of humanity” rather than as merely participating in those practices. The teacher has an active role and in terms of Valsiner’s notion of ‘canalization’, the teacher channels a student’s activities in certain ways so that development is organised in a particular direction, consistent with the teacher’s goals and values. A year-long ethnographic study in a Year 3 classroom was used to understand how a teacher channels student participation to create a collaborative classroom and what changes in participatory roles and contribution are possible. The teacher developed a range of participatory opportunities, including social circles and class meetings, which provided a means for all students to participate in authentic decision-making and collective action. Thirty hours of recorded class meeting and group interactions were analysed qualitatively using fine-grained micro level analysis method (Kovalainen & Kumpulainen). The paper discusses the range of communicative functions used in different activities, the changing participatory roles and resultant action and the changing role of the teacher over the year. The research highlights ways that a skilful teacher can guide and direct student participation and action, so that the students understand how they contribute to transforming collaborative practices that have currency beyond the classroom.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
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