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Exploring teaching of how to adapt a message for an unknown receiver
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU).
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The present study draws on data from a learning study, which was carried out with a group of English teachers working in a school for children with dyslexia and neuropsychiatric disorders. Whereas Swedish students, in general, are less proficient in writing than in speaking, the participants of this study are less experienced in writing, which makes the development of explicit teaching particularly important to explore, which is the aim of the study. The results show that the relation between text and receiver could be made discernible when tasks were designed according to the principles of variation theory, varying critical aspects in different patterns of variation to make certain aspects discernible to the students. The tasks were carefully designed in order to initiate the students' exploring of the text and receiver simultaneously, using their own experience.

Summary

The present study aims at exploring how to make the receiver visible to students. The receiver is assumed to forward communicative skills in writing (Hyland, 2011). The level of English proficiency of Swedish students is relatively high, but the results for written production are lower than the results for reading and listening, according to a European survey (European commission, 2012). The study aims at producing knowledge useful for professional teachers, teaching second or foreign languages in general, and students with writing difficulties in particular. The study was carried out at a school for students with dyslexia and neuropsychiatric disorders outside Stockholm, Sweden. The participating students were 14-16 years of age and are less experienced in writing both in English and their mother tongue, Swedish, compared to peers. The theoretical framework of the study is variation theory (Marton, 2015). According to variation theory, learning means discerning more differentiated aspects of an object of learning. With critical aspects as a point of departure, tasks were designed in order for the students to develop a more differentiated discerning of how to adapt a text to an unknown receiver. The data of the learning study were analysed, with the help of variation theory, to find what was made possible to discern when the lessons were enacted in certain ways. The study attempts to answer the research question; How can instruction be designed, according to principles of variation theory, and enacted in order to develop the students' skills in adapting a text to an unknown receiver? Data were collected from a learning study, carried out with a group of teachers, who designed, enacted and analysed the lessons iteratively. Tasks designed were tested in five cycles with five different groups. The enactment of the tasks lead to the critical aspects being specified and further defined, which in its turn lead to further elaboration of the tasks and the lesson design. The results show that by contrasting messages and parts of messages with the same content, but for different receivers, known and unknown, the receiver could be made discernible to the students. Contrasting different ways to express an invariant content for the same receiver could make the relation between specific aspects of the text and the receiver discernible. The relation between the text and the receiver is not visible in the text itself. In order for the students to discern how to adapt a text to a receiver, they needed to understand the concept of the receiver and discern the relation between aspects of the text and the receiver simultaneously. These relations were made discernible to the students by tasks, designed according to principles of variation theory, that initiated the students' exploration of aspects of content and courtesy, where the students jointly with the teacher discerned the receiver as an organizing principle behind the text.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-46934OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-46934DiVA, id: diva2:1374154
Conference
World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference, 3-6 September 2019, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Available from: 2019-11-29 Created: 2019-11-29 Last updated: 2019-11-29Bibliographically approved

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