New approach to educational interaction: Sociocultural discourse analysis meets multimodal

Twiner, Alison; Coffin, Caroline; Littleton, Karen and Whitelock, Denise (2019). New approach to educational interaction: Sociocultural discourse analysis meets multimodal
In: European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, 12-16 Aug 2019, Aachen, Germany.



This paper presents an original and innovative methodological combination, as a means to explore and research teachers’ and pupils’ educational use of resources, in the unfolding, dialogic, mediated, multimodal and often unexpected processes of meaning-making. The proposed methodological combination harnesses the advantages of sociocultural discourse analysis (SCDA: Mercer, 2004), and multimodal analysis (drawing on Jewitt, 2009; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001).

Broadly speaking SCDA combines qualitative analysis of lesson extracts – e.g. picking up on dialogue and interactions around contextualised use of resources or activities over time – with corpus linguistic analysis of full lesson transcripts – e.g. identifying keywords within a series of lessons or highlighting patterns in teacher and pupil talk over time. Multimodal analysis is based on highly detailed transcription of video recordings, presented as series of annotated stills to form short extracts.

We argue that using this methodological combination opens a new, exciting and insightful space and lens to attend to the unfolding, sometimes cumulative dialogue, within and across lessons, alongside bodily enactment and embodiment of evolving conceptual understanding. It also allows attention to breaks in continuity and flow of educational interactions, and how these are repaired by teachers and pupils in constructing meaningful knowledge together–to zoom in and zoom out along the detail and trajectory of teaching and learning events. The original contribution of this approach is significant in offering a tool for researchers to exemplify best practices and evidence common challenges within educational practice, as well as researching educational interactions that are increasingly multimodal in nature.

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