Talk and web searching in an early years classroom

Houen, Sandra Leanne (2012) Talk and web searching in an early years classroom. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Recent Australian early childhood policy and curriculum guidelines promoting the use of technologies invite investigations of young children’s practices in classrooms. This study examined the practices of one preparatory year classroom, to show teacher and child interactions as they engaged in Web searching. The study investigated the in situ practices of the teacher and children to show how they accomplished the Web search. The data corpus consists of eight hours of videorecorded interactions over three days where children and teachers engaged in Web searching. One episode was selected that showed a teacher and two children undertaking a Web search. The episode is shown to consist of four phases: deciding on a new search subject, inputting the search query, considering the result options, and exploring the selected result. The sociological perspectives of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis were employed as the conceptual and methodological frameworks of the study, to analyse the video-recorded teacher and child interactions as they co-constructed a Web search. Ethnomethodology is concerned with how people make ‘sense’ in everyday interactions, and conversation analysis focuses on the sequential features of interaction to show how the interaction unfolds moment by moment. This extended single case analysis showed how the Web search was accomplished over multiple turns, and how the children and teacher collaboratively engaged in talk.

There are four main findings. The first was that Web searching featured sustained teacher-child interaction, requiring a particular sort of classroom organisation to enable the teacher to work in this sustained way. The second finding was that the teacher’s actions recognised the children’s interactional competence in situ, orchestrating an interactional climate where everyone was heard. The third finding was that the teacher drew upon a range of interactional resources designed to progress the activity at hand, that of accomplishing the Web search. The teacher drew upon the interactional resources of interrogatives, discourse markers, and multi-unit turns during the Web search, and these assisted the teacher and children to co-construct their discussion, decide upon and co-ordinate their future actions, and accomplish the Web search in a timely way. The fourth finding explicates how particular social and pedagogic orders are accomplished through talk, where children collaborated with each other and with the teacher to complete the Web search.

The study makes three key recommendations for the field of early childhood education. The study’s first recommendation is that fine-grained transcription and analysis of interaction aids in understanding interactional practices of Web searching. This study offers material for use in professional development, such as using transcribed and videorecorded interactions to highlight how teachers strategically engage with children, that is, how talk works in classroom settings. Another strategy is to focus on the social interactions of members engaging in Web searches, which is likely to be of interest to teachers as they work to engage with children in an increasingly online environment. The second recommendation involves classroom organisation; how teachers consider and plan for extended periods of time for Web searching, and how teachers accommodate children’s prior knowledge of Web searching in their classrooms. The third recommendation is in relation to future empirical research, with suggested possible topics focusing on the social interactions of children as they engage with peers as they Web search, as well as investigations of techno-literacy skills as children use the Internet in the early years.

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ID Code: 54617
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Danby, Susan J.
Keywords: children, classroom talk, computers, competence, conversation analysis, early childhood education, early years, ethnomethodology, information searching, social interaction, social order, talk-in-interaction, web searching, young children, teacher-child interaction
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 06 Nov 2012 00:27
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 11:42

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