How Do a Group of Trainee Primary Teachers Collaborate Discursively?

Brown, Desma Sharon (2016). How Do a Group of Trainee Primary Teachers Collaborate Discursively? EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

The research took place in a UK context and explores how a group of graduate-level trainee primary-school teachers collaborated discursively on a final year assessment task. It examines how one high-achieving group develop their ideas over time, discursively construct roles within the group and identify themselves as a group through their use of language.

The thesis draws on a case-study using audio/video recording of the group over the course of three meetings. It also includes an initial study of extracts of talk involving five other groups. The talk is transcribed and a discourse-analytical approach is applied to the data. Individual participant evaluations of the case-study group-work are also used to shed further light on the trainees’ perspective of their group collaboration.

Several factors emerge as important in the successful operation of the high-achieving group. These include an attention to shared common knowledge, a collective identity as teachers, the use of the first person plural to emphasise collective activity as a group, exploratory talk, the use of humour in promoting teamwork and the adoption of negative politeness strategies to manage relations between speakers (Leech 2014). It appeared from their discourse that participants shared the leadership of the task and also realised some of the other team-roles discussed by Belbin (1993; 2010). An additional team-role emerged through the data as, the Humorist, which acted in maintaining conviviality and building solidarity within the group.

The potential significance of this thesis for education is that it shows how a successful group of trainee-teachers collaborate in their discussion; and how in the process, they produce themselves as a team. It also offers an addition to the management literature in proposing a new metaphor to replace Tuckman (1965) and shows how team-roles based on psychometric testing and self-perception may be realised in authentic discourse.

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