Quality Characteristics of Interactions during „Mathematical Conversations“ in Plenum
The project focuses on „Mathematical Conversations“ in primary school lessons, which take place in the interaction in the class plenum between teacher and students. Of particular interest is how the professional discussion takes place in these interactions and how the teacher influences them. As a result, the interplay of interaction design and subject-specific quality in „Mathematical Conversations“ emerges as an area of investigation.
A look at the current research shows that there are hardly any results about a coherent view of conversation and subject content in „Mathematical Conversations“ in plenum in (elementary school) mathematics classes. With the question of the extent to which subject-specific quality is evident in mathematical conversations in plenum and which quality characteristics these exhibit, plenum situations are to be specifically examined and analysed with regard to typical interaction patterns.
The data analysis is based on videotaped primary school mathematics lessons, in which plenum situations with „Mathematical Conversations“ are first identified. Subsequently, these will be analysed with regard to interaction patterns and subject-specific depth of engagement with the content, so that indicators for subject-specific quality of interactions in „Mathematical Conversations“ can be identified. Finally, a first formulation of quality characteristics of interactions in „Mathematical Conversations“ in plenum is aimed at.
Teachers interacting with students with different first languages in primary school mathematics
Students whose first language is the same as the instruction language often perform better in mathematics than students with a different first language. International studies that compare different countries show that in Germany, the difference between these two groups is highest. One reason for this inequality is that language has a communicative function for mathematical competencies, such as communicating, arguing, and presenting data. But language has a cognitive function for understanding mathematical concepts, as well. Another reason is that learners’ first languages play an important role in promoting their conceptual understanding and participation in classroom interaction. Language is not only significant for participation in classroom interaction because it is used to build mathematical knowledge. Students can also be portrayed as mathematically competent due to their linguistic skills. At the same time, using first languages in mathematics teaching is not trivial, especially, when there are several different languages represented in one class. My project explores this complex problem using participatory observation to investigate how teachers interact with students with different first languages. Another objective is to compare schools by combining qualitative and quantitative methods.
Language-Inclusive Subject Teaching Practices in the Context of Multilingualism: Insights from Primary School Language Support Models in Germany
Simay Birce Er
As in many European countries, language support models are offered in German primary schools for learners with insufficient language skills. However, due to strong focus on teaching German intensively for a short-term and neglect of teaching other subjects, learning problems tend to appear in other subject areas after transition to mainstream classes. A review of the literature shows that few studies have been able to draw on systematic research into language-inclusive teaching in Germany. The purpose of this study is to compare and provide research-based knowledge on strengths and weaknesses of language support models in terms of promoting language inclusiveness in subject lessons. The study employs qualitative case study method with a comparative design. To understand how language and subject teaching are integrated in different language support models, classroom observations will be made in mathematics and German lessons and follow-up interviews will be conducted with class teachers. Based on the results of the qualitative study, a standardized observation scale will be developed to identify language inclusiveness in multilingual classroom settings. The observation scale will be then tested on video studies.
The professional knowledge of teachers for German language is increasingly becoming the focus of empirical research efforts. Despite this, the systematic assessment of professional knowledge in the field of German language teaching is still in its infancy. In this dissertation project, a vignette test assessing the professional knowledge of teachers in the field of teaching spelling, will be developed and validated. For this purpose, a video vignette-based survey instrument with an open response format is designed. The video clips show typical classroom situations in primary spelling lessons. The teachers participating in the video study are asked to discuss and analyze these clips. The situational nature of video vignettes seems to be particularly suitable for recording teachers’ reflective and action-related competencies in addition to content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Since there are only a few studies on the teaching quality in German lessons oriented towards subject didactics, another concern of the project is to take a closer look at characteristics of (subject-specific) teaching quality in spelling lessons and to operationalize them for video-based recording.
Practices of pedagogical diagnostics in elementary schools
This project is set to follow the unfolding of pedagogical diagnostics in the field of elementary schools with a main focus on German classes. Using participant obersvations I want to describe phenomenons of diagnostical practices in everyday school life: What is diagnostic in this specific field? How is it enacted? My approach is rooted in a praxeographic view on the matter (see Mol 2002). The study is situated in a field of tension between claims about what pedagogical diagnostics should offer for better learning achievements in competence-oriented lessons (to this date the primary approach in germany) and the complex reality of actual performed lessons. I want to approach the didactical fear of an existing gap by focusing on the situated and lived reality in a practical way rather than examing motives and perspectives of participants.
On the situational production of difference and commonality in heterogeneous learning groups in primary school German lessons
The dialectical relationship between commonality and difference (or sameness/individuality) shapes primary school teaching for a heterogeneous student body and constitutes a central challenge to the development of inclusive teaching, especially regarding the development of inclusive subject-didactic approaches.
Difference(s) and commonality(ies) do not simply exist in the classroom, but are produced, stabilized, and transformed in social practices and associated interactive attributions of characteristics as well as forms of addressing in specific orders.
In this research project, the interactive implementation of lessons will be related to the subject dimension of inclusive German lessons. The aim is to examine how difference(s) are processed or (re-)produced in pedagogical practices by means of recognition, and how opportunities for participation are established or restricted – and negotiated in relation to the subject matter. The focus lies on how the subject of German lessons, explicitly spelling, becomes a normative frame of reference in the process.
Practices of interaction with arithmetic tools in the classroom of the school entrance phase
In the classroom, interaction represents the space in which teaching and learning take place. Not only human actors shape everyday teaching practice, but also objects are involved in interactions and can significantly influence and co-determine their emergence. In this sense, they are to be understood as material actors that offer interpretation and action to human participants in interaction.
The research project takes up this perspective. It is dedicated to the observation and description of interactions in elementary school mathematics lessons with a focus on the integration of arithmetic tools. In doing so, not only a technical, mathematical-didactical perspective on everyday classroom activities is taken. It is asked how organizational procedures and subject-specific practices are mutually dependent.
The examination of arithmetic tools is a particularly exciting topic. They provide children with fundamental insights into abstract mathematical number and task relationships and structures that would otherwise be difficult to grasp. However, a mathematically sound understanding does not result from merely acting with the materials, but requires conscious handling and interaction with them.
By opening up the view on subject-related and organizational teaching processes in the classroom, it can become visible how this sensitive subject of using arithmetic tools is embedded in the structural conditions of the institution school and which practices of handling and use have become established.
Interactions between Teachers, Students, and Subject Matter when Considering a Literary Work with a High Degree of Polyvalence
The teacher’s management of conversations in class has already been investigated early in conversation analysis studies. These studies illustrated that a task-solution pattern which is implicitly based on the fact that the teacher already knows the solution to the task, and that the students try to figure it out, dominates classroom discussion. This pattern, which aims at developing a ‘correct’ solution, already indicates difficulties within the context of the here focussed literary texts, since the central characteristic of these texts is to allow, even demand, several (diverse) interpretations and approaches to the text. Accordingly, classifying the learners’ contributions into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ does not seem possible without more ado.
Within this doctoral thesis, it would be necessary to investigate and identify the interaction patterns as well as moderation-, management-, and support procedures in conversations about the subject matter when dealing with ambiguous literary texts. Particularly in the field of German didactics, there are only a few studies that focus on how lessons are precisely structured with regard to the interactive development of the subject matter when considering a literary work with a high degree of polyvalence.
Interaction design in “helping situations”
The project focuses on “helping situations” which take place in maths lessons in primary school and can be observed in teacher-student interaction. Those situations are initiated either by the learner who requests assistance or by the teacher who gives unsolicited help. Furthermore, “helping situations” contain a mathematical subject matter and are characterized by professional support which is provided by the teacher. In order to effectively promote the students’ learning process, it seems apparent that the aid needs to be individualized. Therefore, adaptivity and cognitive activation as well as their potential significance for professional quality in “helping situations” constitute the object of research. So far, these situations have been insufficiently explored. Pursuing the research question in how far professional quality is embedded in “helping situations”, those specific teacher-student interactions are going to be analysed so that their typical patterns can be delineated. For this, videotaped maths lessons in primary school are used. As a first step, “helping situations” are going to be identified. Afterwards, the extracted sequences will be evaluated in regard to cognitive activation, adaptivity and mathematical depth so that indicators for professional quality can be derived.
Interaction based on the textbook in primary school mathematics classes
Mathematics textbooks worldwide represent the potentially implemented curriculum, the i.e., intermediate stage between the expectations for teaching and their implementation in situational execution and interaction. While various studies have adressed their theoretical use and consequences, there is little research on their practical use. In this desideratum, my project will pursue the goal of generating theory on interaction using textbooks (also digital). This involves participatory observation and videotaping of classroom scenes. The findings of the resulting interpretations are seen as a basis for approaches to practical changes in terms of textbooks and their use. As relevant aspects, the observed functions of textbooks will be defined and the communication and interaction with and through them will be conceptualised. Based on comparisons between expectations and practical use, the study also asks about the tension between mathematics didactic quality demands on the textbooks and their situational implementation. The usage of videography for data collection seems appropriate due to the (partly non-verbal) complexity of the subject matter, although not exclusively.