Teacher Development in the 21st Century Seminar

Teacher Development in the 21st Century Seminar

Developing Classroom Interactional Competence

Prof. Steve Walsh, Newcastle University, UK

Thursday 9 April, 9.30-10.30am
Venue tbc

In this talk, I offer an initial conceptualisation of Classroom Interactional Competence (CIC), defined as ‘teachers’ and learners’ ability to use interaction as a tool for mediating and assisting learning’ (Walsh, 2013, 124). Adopting a sociocultural perspective on learning and using constructs from this theoretical perspective, I present a number of features of CIC and consider how an understanding of the construct can lead to more dialogic, engaged learning environments. In classroom settings, there are many factors which combine to produce interaction which is conducive to learning. CIC encompasses the less easily definable - yet no less important - features of classroom interaction which can make the teaching/learning process more or less effective. CIC is concerned to account for learning-oriented interaction by considering the interplay between complex phenomena which include roles of teachers and learners, their expectations and goals; the relationship between language use and teaching methodology; and the interplay between teacher and learner language. 

In the data, there are a number of ways in which CIC manifests itself. Firstly, and from a teacher’s perspective, a teacher who demonstrates CIC uses language which is both convergent to the pedagogic goal of the moment and which is appropriate to the learners. Secondly, CIC facilitates ‘space for learning’ (Walsh and Li, 2012), where learners are given adequate space to participate in the discourse, to contribute to the class conversation and to receive feedback on their contributions. Thirdly, CIC entails teachers being able to shape learner contributions by scaffolding, paraphrasing, re-iterating and so on. We’ll be looking at a number of data extracts to identify instances of CIC and evaluating its significance from both a teaching/learning and teacher education perspective. We’ll also consider the implications of this research for materials development, assessment and curriculum design.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Faculty Teaching Board for this initiative.

For further information please contact Elaine.Vaughan@ul.ie