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Reflections on practice, teaching/learning, video, and theorizing

Frederick Erickson

pp. 385-402

If social interaction is the site of learning and of teaching practice, how might we better conceive of "interaction" and "practice"? This chapter argues that studies of learning, as situated in interaction, have suffered from inadequate theorizing concerning the nature of interaction itself. The chapter begins with a brief overview of the sixty year intellectual history of an "interaction revolution" that parallels the "cognitive revolution" reviewed by McDermott in his chapter. Special attention is given to the perspective developed through the pioneering "Natural History of an Interview" (NHI) research group whose work began in 1956–the first to have studied both verbal and nonverbal aspects of social interaction together in an attempt at a unified analysis–and its successors in an approach called "context analysis." The chapter continues by documenting the patterns of reference to specific video examples that are apparent in the major papers and commentaries on them that appear in this volume. Reference to video examples differed markedly across authors, both in the particular strips of interaction that were chosen for purposes of illustration and in the ways those strips were discussed across the various chapters, suggesting that the affordances of the video corpus that was made available to authors were not fully taken advantage of in the discussions the authors produced. The chapter concludes by revisiting the need for better theorizing concerning the nature of social interaction itself, as a foundation for attempts to understand learning and teaching as an interactionally situated process.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-7582-9_23

Full citation:

Erickson, F. (2011)., Reflections on practice, teaching/learning, video, and theorizing, in T. Koschmann (ed.), Theories of learning and studies of instructional practice, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 385-402.

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