DIRECT COMPLAINT IN LEARNING CONTEXT: DIALOGY OR MONOLOGY?
Striving for dialogical teaching and learning is one aim in pedagogical field. However, there are few educational programs designed to carry out dialogical encounter through the whole curriculum. One such program is Pedagogical Studies for Adult Educators (PSAE) in Finland. In PSAE dialogical encounter means voluntary and mutual, high quality interaction, where participants listen to each other, try to understand others' perspectives, but also express their own viewpoints, in order to promote learning. To get different perspectives to confront and encounter, the students (future teachers) work mainly in small groups.
This paper will apply ideas of ethnomethodologically oriented conversation analysis. It investigates interaction: what people do through their speech turns. In interaction, interpretation of the turns by interlocutors is crucial, since one responds to previous turn according to his/her interpretation. The interlocutor's interpretation is then related to that response. This is called sequentiality (Schegloff 2007). The idea of sequentiality makes it possible to study discussions as processes, where the interpretations are constructed together.
Discussions of two learning groups (ten students in the first and nine students in the second goup, and their tutor) were recorded in order to study how the dialogical encounter works in common meetings of these groups. When the authentic discussions were observed some discussions including complaints were found. There were both third-party complaints: the liable person was not present (Pakkanen 2011), and direct complaints (Edwards 2005) or accusations: the person having responsibility for the complained matter was present. An interrelationship between dialog and accusation is complex: striving for dialogical encounter may enable space for complaining but does it enable space also for accusations. This study concerns wether there are dialogical ways to accuse, or at least, dialogical ways to discuss the accusation so that the parties will find a shared understanding.
Two group discussions with accuses are studied here. They had three common elements: they occurred in a learning situation; the object of complaint/accusation was an element of PSAE, so the tutor had at least an institutional responsibility; and there had been critical tones before the accusation studied. However, the discussion processes were different: the first discussion grew into an analysis of teacherhood, the second led to deadlock: the complainer felt he was unattended. This kind of situation is insulting (Mandelbaum 1991/1992) and far from dialogical encounter. In this study differences are analysed between the processes of constructing or backfiring when students and tutor construct shared understanding.
Edwards, D. (2005). Moaning, whining and laughing: The subjective side of complaints. Discourse Sudies 7 (1), 5–29.
Pakkanen, M. (2011). Student teachers’ indirect complaining in learning groups. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 17 (3), 383–394.
Mandelbaum, J. (1991/1992). Conversational non-cooperation: An exploration of disattended complaints. Research on Language and Social Interaction 25, 97–138.
Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.