Dialogic space during mother-child interaction in the early years

Rooke, Eliza Katey (2016). Dialogic space during mother-child interaction in the early years. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000b812


The co-construction of meaning-making during mother-child activity around the concepts of colour and size is considered through the lens of socio-cultural theory. The metaphor of scaffolding is critiqued in relation to its utility for explaining interactions between parent and child in problem-solving activity. Specifically, this thesis offers an investigation of the extent to which Wegerif’s (2011b) notion of ‘dialogic space’ can inform a better understanding of the processes of meaning-making that take place between a mother and her pre-school child.
An exploratory, inductive case study was conducted in a pre-school setting with 13 mother-child dyads. The children were 30-36 months old. The dyads were observed while engaged in activities that involved sorting blocks according to their colour and size. Video-recordings of the observations were transcribed and the transcriptions were then subject to a thematic Socio-Cultural Discourse Analysis (SCDA). Also mothers took part in semi-structured interviews, incorporating Video-Stimulated Reflective Dialogue (VSRD). These were used to shed light on the mothers’ perspectives of the activity and informed my analysis of the transcriptions.
The theoretical benefits of this thesis include extended theorising about dialogic space by considering the context of parent and pre-school children’s dialogues. It provides significant contributions to educational theory by evidencing how pause and physical and psychological resources can be mobilised by interlocutors to resource their construction of dialogic space during activities with young children. Implications for practice arising from this study include the need for practitioners to be alert to how the theory of dialogic space can inform a better understanding of how young children can be creatively engaged in dialogue in asymmetrical interactions that harness their understanding of colour and size.

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