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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Locating Assisted Performance: A Study of Instructional Activity Settings and their Effects on the Discourse of Teaching

  • Author(s): Poole, Deborah
  • Patthey-Chavez, G Genevieve
  • et al.

In an effort to locate instances of Tharp and Gallimore's assisted performance in educational settings, teacher-student interactions in typical teacher-fronted classrooms are contrasted with the organization of talk across a variety of alternate educational participant structures—a teacher-student conference, small group work, the making of a class video, and a problem-solving interaction in a computer lab—that deviate from the traditional "default script" (Cazden, 1988, p. 53) of classroom interactions. We consider how each learning arrangement affects the extent to which students are able to initiate, control, and maintain interaction, and the extent to which their agendas are articulated. We further consider the influence exerted by the multiple facets of each encounter's institutional and interpersonal context. This range of influences precludes a monolithic transfer of knowledge, pointing to the obviously agentive role of the novice as well as to ways in which historical and institutional expectations are represented (or altered) in interactional encounters. Hence, locating assisted performance uncovers a web of relationships among participants, tasks, and talk that both facilitate and constrain learning in a given novice-expert episode.

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