Skilda världar : En språkvetenskaplig undersökning av gruppsamtal som undervisnings- och lärandeform inom högre utbildning
Sammanfattning: This thesis investigates the group work and group discussions of students. The general aim is to investigate what opportunities and limitations are presented by group discussion as a form of instruction and learning in higher education. An analysis is made of students’ work with the subject matter and the organization of their discussions as multi-party conversations.The material consists of three recorded group discussions between teacher students at the beginning of their studies who carry out identical or nearly identical tasks for the same course. Four different dimensions of the group discussions are analysed: the presuppositions and external conditions of the group discussions; group discussions as a communicative activity type; the content, coherence and topic progressions of the group discussions, and the categorisations and discursive structures in two frequent transepisodic themes.The results show that, even though the conditions for the three conversations are almost identical, the students interpret and carry out the tasks in different ways. To structure the multi-party conversations, the groups use communicative strategies and techniques from activity types that are familiar and similar, like informal conversations, interviews, seminars, lectures, and meetings. However, the choice of a more institutional form of interaction does not automatically result in an institutional approach to the subject. The groups usually apply an informal perspective to the subject matter and use informal language that does not seem to be sufficient in the educational context. The students are primarily focussed on reaching a shared understanding. This means that in most cases the students take an uncritical stance with each other, that is, they engage in what is known as cumulative talk.The results indicate the need for a more assertive participant in the groups in order for the group discussions to function as a learning situation. In order for there to be more critical discussion in group, students must be able to identify a disorienting dilemma that engages them and students must see shared scrutiny and exploration as a means to new knowledge and understanding.
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