Language into learning: small group interaction

Brimble, Ronnie Allan (1998) Language into learning: small group interaction. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

PDF (Thesis) - Submitted Version
Download (12MB)


In a world of technological and cultural change and multicultural contexts, the Primary School is challenged constantly to provide learning experiences as foundations for students' acquisition of lifelong learning strategies. Consequently, classrooms need to provide learning experiences related to the real world via television and the internet and opportunities for sharing ideas/information. Effective sharing of ideas/information entails empowering students to acquire skills that enable them to evaluate ideas/information and critically validate information sources. In these contexts, questions arise in relation to the nature of group learning and its effectiveness for learning across knowledge domains of the curriculum.

Research on group learning in both primary and secondary schools has indicated that, compared with whole class teaching/learning, group learning provides enhanced opportunities for social development through student-student interaction that leads to improved learning outcomes. However, there is little research which has focused on a detailed analysis of how group interaction might be understood and enhanced. This study has accepted this implicit challenge by probing the linguistic and cognitive processes generated in collaborative, heterogeneous group contexts across three knowledge domains of the primary school curriculum (science, social studies and language arts).

In examining group processes, this research analyses the dimensions of group interaction at both global and individual levels. Research paradigms are examined to identify and develop an appropriate methodology, in this case ethnology of communication.

Prior to implementation, the instrument developed for the research was trialled in terms of effectiveness for tapping the students' perceptions of the group learning process. A systematic trialling process was also undertaken to develop a data analysis system which encompassed at once (a) the language created by the participants, (b) the cognitive processes engaged in by participants, (c) the contexts constructed by individuals and (d) extra/nonverbal dimensions of the group interaction.

The research site selected for the study was a large State Primary School with students from mixed social and cultural backgrounds and the selected participants consisted of five Year Six students (two females and three males) of mixed ability.

Analysis of the data at both global and micro levels generated the following pathways to effective, collaborative, heterogeneous group learning in the knowledge domains of the Primary School curriculum.

(1) The research model provides a learning paradigm considered an effective adjunct to whole class teaching/learning. This paradigm is characterised by communicative contexts with potential for interactive learning via sustained dialogue and appropriate teacher roles to ensure symmetry of learning.

(2) The group interaction spontaneously generates a range of linguistic forms, accompanied by body language, and cognitive processes, including core linguistic forms and cognitive processes, to structure a semantic field of relevant content.

(3) Participants structure the group learning by adopting roles through which they collaboratively establish contextual frames and interaction segments by initiating and responding to ideas/information drawn from their individual knowledge structures.

(4) In the context of ongoing teaching/learning, students indicate that they have acquired (a) perceptions of purposes for learning the knowledge domains and (b) preferred, knowledge-domain-specific learning strategies.

This research has implications for further research on the impact of cultural and gender differences on the generation of linguistic and cognitive processes in other group structures as well as collaborative, heterogeneous group contexts. In the classroom context, it has implications for an effective teaching/learning paradigm for laying foundations for lifelong literacy for learning the knowledge domains of the curriculum and strengthening fundamental pillars of education in a world of rapid technological change. It also has implications for both Preservice and Inservice programs providing the necessary understandings for teachers to implement and develop collaborative, heterogeneous group learning as an effective supplement to whole class teaching/learning in the instructional program.

Item ID: 29604
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: group work in education; team learning; effective teaching; effective learning
Additional Information:

Appendix G (permissions) is not available through this repository.

Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2013 04:41
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200101 Communication Studies @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930299 Teaching and Instruction not elsewhere classified @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 196
Last 12 Months: 4
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page