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Title: Intersubjectivity and groupwork in school mathematics : examining year 7 students' interactions from a perspective of communicative action
Author: Kent, Geoffrey
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 4492
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores how small group interactions around problem-solving in secondary school mathematics can be understood using a theoretical framework of Communicative Action inspired by Habermasian Critical Theory. How does cognition express itself socially? What are the technical features of communicative acts that afford access to the development of mutual understanding? A case study approach was used to investigate episodes of interactive speech acts. Participants included three Year 7 mathematics teachers and 87 students in 3 different English secondary schools, who were engaged in adopting aspects of a 'Complex Instruction' pedagogical approach to design and coordinate problem-solving groupwork. Tasks were collaboratively designed with the participating teachers, followed by participant observation of the lessons, and post-lesson interviews with the teachers. Small group interactions were recorded using Flip cameras at each table that captured audio and video of student interactions around the tasks, and whole class video was also recorded. Initial analysis of small group interactions led to the development of codes and models focused on understanding interactions from an intersubjective perspective informed by Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action. These models and codes were then iteratively used to generate and refine analytical statements and working hypotheses from further interrogation of the data. The pragmatic focus of this study is on the content of episodes of utterances. These episodes are part of the intersubjective level at which teaching and learning take place. The findings from this analysis add to the field by developing a technical and critical treatment of evidence of intersubjectivity in mathematics education. Understanding the intersection of meaningful communication, action, and practices at the small group level is argued to provide novel insights into practice and design for problemsolving groupwork in mathematics education. The contributions of this thesis include the development of an Intersubjective Framework for Analysis of small group interactions, evidence that this framework can be productively used to identify ways in which the development of collaborative understanding expresses itself at the small group level, how it breaks down and how it can be supported. Methodologically this work makes a claim to knowledge in the development of microanalyses of situated cognition informed by Habermasian social theory. This work explores the merits and limitations of the communicative perspective in understanding small group interactions in mathematics problem-solving situations. A central claim is that Habermas' sociological approach can be used productively to investigate small group interactions in mathematics classrooms. Theoretically this work makes a claim to knowledge in the development of a novel set of codes and models that can be used to analyse evidence of intersubjectivity through analysis of episodes of utterances in situ. This analytical framework is used to argue that small group interactions can be understood productively from a theoretical perspective of Communicative Action. These contributions suggest that insights from a perspective of Communicative Action can give educators critical pragmatic insights into curriculum design, structuring groupwork and associated pedagogy, and communicative (as opposed to instrumental or strategic) intervention in the support of intersubjective understanding.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB1025 Teaching (Principles and practice) ; LB1603 Secondary education. High schools ; QA Mathematics