In this presentation, we take an interest in practices relied upon by teachers and learners for coming to situated agreement of the level of student learning, and for adjusting teaching and instruction in different situations to these changing understandings, both within situations, and in and between subsequent situations occurring over longer periods of time. In particular, we are interested in explicit epistemic practices and epistemic topicalization as resources for cohesion and change. Within CA, there is a growing interest in the ubiquitous role that issues related to knowledge have in the interactive organization of human sociality. This interest has brought new insights about the diverse ways in which epistemic stance is utilized as a resource in interaction (c.f. Stivers, Mondada, & Steensig, 2011; Heritage, 2012b; 2012a; Goodwin, 2013; Koole, 2012). The focus on epistemics is at the core of a growing body of research on learning that within a CA framing explores new ways of conceptualizing learning as changed participation in interaction (Martin, 2004; Melander, 2009; Lee, 2010; Sahlström, 2011; Seedhouse, Walsh, & Jenks, 2010).
The issue of cross-situational relevance has continued to to be a challenge for CA studies. Here, we explore how participants orient to learning processes across situations, by relying on epistemic topicalizations as resources for the shaping of cohesive learning trajectories. The analyzed material consists of data from three larger educational video- ethnographies on language and learning with data both from classroom settings and informal everyday settings. Within these materials, trajectories of learning have been traced, relying in particular on analysis of explications of epistemic orientation.
In the analysis we show how the epistemic stance of the informants change through and between the interactions, as the students become more and more certain of how to orient to the learning content. By orienting to previous shared learning experiences, and by relying on epistemic explications such as epistemic topicalizations, the student’s current epistemic status in relation to the learnable is established, and hence made available for situated change.
In conclusion, the paper shows how epistemic topicalizations are relied upon in the learning trajectories for establishing and maintaining, in different ways, coherence in a certain constituted content through several learning situations, while at the same time making it possible for the teacher and the student to continuously change and differentiate their epistemic stance to this content in relation to successive changes in the student’s epistemic status. Hence, epistemic topicalization is demonstrated to be a primary resource in establishing a shared understanding of the evolving epistemic status of the students, and a primary resource for adapting and changing teaching and instruction. Epistemic topicalizations represent crucial resources both for the contingent organization of learning as social action within and beyond situated interactions, and for the situated construction of differentiation and mutual adaption of teaching and learning in relation to displayed needs and requests from various students.
IIEMCA International Conference 2015, Living the material world, August 4-7, University of Kolding, Denmark