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UNCOVERING CHARACTERISTICS OF BREAKOUT ROOM DIALOGUES IN PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS’ EDUCATION

M. Myers

Queen's university (CANADA)
We use language for the crystallization of concepts. However, our understanding of dialogue has changed thanks to continuing theoretical developments around practice. According to researchers our intelligent action on the world (Kent, 1994; Taylor, 1994) is mostly carried out unformulated. However, pre-service teachers have to learn the most effective ways for their actions and hence develop the needed awareness.

Luhman (1995) says we frame representations to reduce complexity. Bakhtin (1986) states that the meaning of an utterance is only arrived at in the context of a complex network of other utterances and only through dialogic and public interactions. According to Taylor (1994), human beings are constituted in conversation. Today’s focus is on seeing the agent in practice, acting in and on a world and with language use we can identify changes in our thinking. Bourdieu’s (2016) notion of habitus suggests that there are ingrained habits due to culture and teachers have to be aware and often change those. Researchers suggest that whole conversations gets internalized (Taylor,1994). Hence it is important to analyze what happens during professional conversations and uncover outcomes.

The method used was qualitative as we were looking for detailed accounts (Creswell & Poth 2018; Patton, 2017; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). We report on instructor’s journal notes during group interactions in zoom breakout rooms. The instructor moved from group to group in the breakout rooms, answering questions, prodding, encouraging etc. always in a supportive way. The assigned activities were of a professional nature.

Findings show complex developments over time and uncovered two phases in practice, namely interactions of a social nature and the professional interactions in a community of practice. During the former group interactions, there was a shared understanding as students already had met ‘common ground’ (Olson, 2005) socially speaking, although there were newcomers in the groups. There was no need to point out strategies, these were understood as underlying, and tacitly acted upon. This could usually be identified as the first phase during the breakout room activities

In contrast, as they worked together throughout the two hour class times, around professional topics, several times the implicit companionable understanding among the interlocutors was brought to a halt, through suspicion, lack of willingness to provide an answer or questions that seemed inappropriate. During this second phase the group participants seemed to wear their ’professional-in-training’ hats and taking a professional knowledge stance, appeared more distant; however as they built their mini communities of practice, things changed. There were both more conviviality and certain degrees of professional competition. During this phase while working on more serious professional concepts they resorted to the use of professional strategies, like, for instance, revisiting the topic to be discussed, ensuring through repetition and rephrasing that everyone understood the given task, discussing taking on a shared perspective and delegating powers and responsibilities. Complaints were only voiced one on one. This allowed the instructor to correct some issues and alleviate some difficulties. Examples given of the instructor’s personal professional experiences helped with comprehensibility in groups.