COMBINED SIG MEETING, 21st - 23rd May, 2006, Leiden University, the Netherlands

held by the following two Special Interest Groups of EARLI:
Social Interaction in Learning and Instruction (SIG 10) & Special Educational Needs (SIG 15)

The general theme is "Social Interaction as a content related topic: methodological issues"Combined meeting of SIG 10 Social Interaction and SIG 15 Special Educational Needs, 22-23 May, 2006, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

The format of the SIG meeting was centered on a presentation followed by a workshop. Discussion was triggered by asking questions and responding to group members. In the final 15 minutes of the session the discussion leader would try to offer a short report of the main issues discussed. These were to be written down for the final report of the meeting. The report was written by Diny van der Aalsvoort. The text consists of a short report from the issues discussed within each presentation.

May 22, 2006:
The symposium began by a welcoming address by prof.dr. Monique Boekaerts, the chair of the undergraduate (BAMA) programme on The Psychology of Education and Instruction (Psych. Ed) as well as the programme director of the research programme Self-regulated learning.

Prof.dr. Nicholas Burbules named his presentation ‘Equity considerations in the design of learning environments'. He intended his talk as the outlines for a group discussion. The report is a compilation of the presentation and discussion.

A first topic raised was ‘digital divide'. Internet gives access to learning opportunities; it is a learning device. Using the Internet can be addressed as an access issue:
- Who: boys other than girls; learning and links (movement in a space of meaning); mobility (navigating in cyberspace) and immobility
- What: games, being initiated in technology; understanding technology
- How: organisation of learning and links
The Internet provides e-learning; the design includes structure of subject matter (such as intrinsic logic of discipline), equity consideration (topics related to special educational needs; first language) and social interaction (on-line discussions, triggering motivation). These themes were discussed.
A second topic was design. There are several decisions related to design:
Movement; interaction; publicity; visibility, and enclosure. These should be considered when designing a course offered on the web.
The discussion revealed that there are many subjects that need rethinking related to Internet and teaching and learning, such as, the value of making mistakes as a student, discussion between students and the position of teachers, ownership of learning results; the meaning of guidelines (pedagogic and content related) for users of the Internet, the use of recent materials or dynamic documents. Moreover, research with respect to Internet needs rethinking too: How to approach new models of interaction; When is it mastery learning? What is the meaning of gaming?

Prof. dr. Marja Vauras was ill and she could not present.

As a replacement Dr Diny van der Aalsvoort. She explained that Marja would have addressed the relationship between disadvantaged children and social and language impairments as these may have a negative effect upon interactions. She would have discussed how peer and family interactions may be related to ‘resistance to learning'. She then presented a study entitled ‘Studying learning processes in special educational needs'. The longitudinal study aimed at revealing if children developing at-risk in regular and special primary schools in Grade 1 who are allowed time to play together profit from it with respect to collaboration and literacy and numeracy in Grade 2. The posttest findings revealed that the quality of collaboration improved as well as numeracy performance. Next she showed a clip from a play session to allow discussion on the features of play and collaboration. Main topics discussed were: unintended benefits from play may need more elaboration. Information about the Dutch legislation provoked a discussion on inclusive education and ways to promote teachers' motivation to teach in changing circumstances; the concept of at-risk development would require elaboration to understand the population; addressing unintended learning outcomes and the topic of meaning-making during play could be enhanced by transcript analysis (in vivo atlas) or ethnographic study of the video data; discussing play in relationship to numeracy raised questions about the meaning of play in relationship to learning in school: The group felt that this could be a theme to raise for a symposium since play and collaboration both have a specific meaning within the school walls.

May 23, 2006
Prof.dr. Neil Mercer addressed the issue of temporal analysis of classroom dialogue.
He described how a sociocultural analysis of the nature and functions of dialogue between teachers and students, and amongst students, can be used to enable more effective interactions and better educational outcomes. He claimed that meaning making takes longer than a zip. By sharing experiences shared learning can take place. Looking at the talk that students and teachers share can be done from a historical point of view. Teachers use techniques to describe shared experiences: What did we do yesterday? Talk also is a dynamic process that includes relationship to ‘own context' as discourse is contextualized (Gee & Green). He mentioned Scott and Mortimer (2005) who state that a specific teaching activity has a purpose linked to former lessons or future ones. Temporal aspects of discourse are a main topic in Mercer's work. In the trajectory of teaching and learning school context, curriculum, shared history between students, between lessons and within lessons temporality is visible.
Mercer carries out experiments and uses both outcome measures, such as Raven PM, and conversational analysis to reveal processes when experimenting with lessons that elicit learning to solve problems in small groups. There are ground rules for talk which are trained and get appropriated by the students involved. Videotapes of lessons in the classroom allow conversational analysis to categorize talk as either disputational or cumulative or exploratory.
Using data (videoclips) from recent research in schools in the UK, the application of the categories presented took place within the group and was discussed. Neil Mercer and Judith Kleine Staarman focused of three different, but related topics: The analysis of student talk in groups in the classroom; the analysis of teacher's talk; Analyzing teaching and learning as it develops over time.

Prof.dr. Paul Vedder's presentation was entitled ‘Students' peer networks, school adjustment, and learning. He stated that children's social networks are important for their well being as well as for their socialization. What network is chosen by children depends on children's characteristics and on the activities they deem important. These characteristics and activities may vary with respect to the extent to which they are conducive to children's learning in schools. A way to measure how peers influence social development and learning is using network analysis to explore whether social networks can support children's learning and their well being and the way in which social networks affect individual members (socialization, selection or something else). The concept of a network can be sociometric (With whom do you like to play); friendship (Who are your friends?); social networks (Who do you spend time with?). Vedder also mentioned how measuring social networks can help to understand social rejection and social inclusion. Moreover, the relationship between social networks and students' goals and motivation or child characteristics or academic achievement can be measured.
The first data from one high school were presented in a workshop by Janna Fortuin (PhD student). She reported about her study and clarified how drawing social maps and scoring procedures allow identification of social networks and interaction patterns. Different approaches to describe longitudinal interaction patterns will be compared to one another and we will look at the relative merits of these approaches with regard to identifying selection and socialization effects.