Ringing With Voices: 'Guided Participation' During The Literacy Hour

Weatherby, Elaine (2004). Ringing With Voices: 'Guided Participation' During The Literacy Hour. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c0aa

Abstract

The thesis is concerned with the social processes of learning and how these are facilitated or inhibited during the Literacy Hour. This involved looking at the provision for speaking and listening during the Literacy Hour and the arrangements made for children's "active" participation. It also entailed looking at the working relationships in the classroom and at the way that the teacher and pupils were positioned as speakers and listeners during this time.

The central concern was to identify those conditions which would release the social and "active" learning processes.

The main aims of the study were:

1. To raise questions about work related speaking and listening during the Literacy Hour and to assess whether it facilitates or inhibits peer inactive learning.

2. To discover whether children work collaboratively during the unsupervised time.

3. To trial an initiative for peers working collaboratively during the unsupervised time of the Literacy Hour in an attempt to increase the children's participation as speakers and listeners.

The observations took place over two years following a cohort of children from Year 1 into Year 2. Transcripts were made of "whole" class sessions in an attempt to discover how teacher/pupil dialogue facilitated or restricted peer collaborative practices. Further transcripts were made of the "unsupervised" time where pupils were observed working in groups but not working collaboratively. This led to the researcher implementing an initiative where pupils were "guided" to talk and work together. These interactions were transcribed as were the final observations of those groups who had received training and were then left to work "unsupervised".

The approach adopted by this study had to do justice to the developing dynamics of a socio-cultural theory of teaching and learning. Therefore, there was a need to employ multiple, interrelated levels of analysis which borrowed from anthropological evaluation, action research, discourse analysis and grounded theory. Interactions were videotaped and an analysis applied to the discourse observed. Particular focus was placed on specific features of the interactive context.

The results of the research were that the constraints of a narrowly conceived nationally prescribed pedagogical approach to literacy as well as the drive for formal assessment limited the roles, time and organization of speaking and listening opportunities during the Literacy Hour. Significantly, children were unable to work collaboratively when they were unsupervised as peer interactive speaking and listening practices during the Literacy Hour were marginalized. This led to further research and the launching of an initiative to create a space for peer interactive learning. The intervention focused on the process of collaborative learning and measured success by the children's increased involvement, engagement and communication with each other; their growing awareness of their autonomy and the choices available to them and the group; their aptitude at asking questions, seeking explanations, making suggestions and arriving at evaluations as well as their growing awareness of themselves and others their responsibility to ensure contributions from each other.

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