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Title: Learning to listen, listening to learn : an investigation into listening practices in classrooms
Author: Sangster, Pauline
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis reports on a series of focused interviews with teachers and secondary school pupils aged between eleven and twelve years in which the everyday demands of listening within classrooms was investigated. The interview study formed part of a wider project which comprised three further parts: observation of the ongoing work of ten target classes (drawn from schools situated in differing socio-economic areas in and around Edinburgh); more focused observation of lessons explicitly designed to enhance the listening capacities of pupils; and analysis of the written plans for, and audio taped recordings of, these lessons. A key consideration was the wish to observe good practice. Consequently, the teachers whose classes were observed and who were interviewed were chosen on the basis of their reputation as skilled practitioners. There is a large body of research which has examined the cognitive processes associated with listening much of it based on experiments rather than on naturalistic observations. This research has examined the cognitive and affective processing of verbal and non-verbal messages; the role of long-term and short-term memory and the significance of cognitive schema in receiving, attending to and interpreting messages. While such studies have given us a much richer understanding of the nature of listening, their focus on individual cognitive processes has meant that important features of listening in classroom contexts have received little attention. This thesis moves away from a narrow focus on the development of skills of individual learners and examines listening from a sociocultural perspective as a set of classroom practices. Attention is drawn to the nature and demands of listening and the ways these impact on classroom activities; how listeners adjust purpose and activity depending on the requirements of different genres of texts; and the ways in which listeners monitor and control their listening actions within classrooms. Within the study listening is conceptualised in relation to the wider movements in literacy development. Consideration is given to the ways in which teachers scaffold and supported pupils’ listening activity, and it is argued that current representations of scaffolding need to be expanded to take account of the findings of the present study. In addition, the picture which emerged points to the need to acknowledge the way in which control over listening is dependent on acquiring specific knowledge that enables pupils to frame their attention within the demands of different listening tasks and genres of texts. As a result of this it is suggested that established accounts of metacognitive control and monitoring may need to be developed to take account of how ‘executive control’ entails the internalisation of specific norms governing the ideational and interpersonal uses of language within classrooms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available