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Functional relevance of students' prior knowledge and situational uncertainty during verbal interactions in vocational classrooms : evidence from a mixed-methods study

Functional relevance of students' prior knowledge and situational uncertainty during verbal interactions in vocational classrooms : evidence from a mixed-methods study

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KÄRNER, Tobias, Julia WARWAS, 2015. Functional relevance of students' prior knowledge and situational uncertainty during verbal interactions in vocational classrooms : evidence from a mixed-methods study. In: Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training. 7, 11. ISSN 1877-6337. eISSN 1877-6345. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s40461-015-0023-7

@article{Karner2015-12Funct-40319, title={Functional relevance of students' prior knowledge and situational uncertainty during verbal interactions in vocational classrooms : evidence from a mixed-methods study}, year={2015}, doi={10.1186/s40461-015-0023-7}, volume={7}, issn={1877-6337}, journal={Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training}, author={Kärner, Tobias and Warwas, Julia}, note={Article Number: 11} }

Kärner, Tobias Kärner, Tobias Warwas, Julia 2015-12 eng Background<br />Descriptive accounts of instruction in German vocational schools consistently indicate whole-class dialogue to be prevalent. We aim to extend previous research by elucidating pedagogically valuable dialogic practices that facilitate conceptual understanding, and by empirically investigating factors that promote or hinder student engagement in these practices. We focus on prior knowledge in the domain discussed, because knowledge differences count among the prime sources of heterogeneity among vocational students in Germany. However, with survey studies suggesting a decisive role of communication apprehension, we also intend to explore if feelings of uncertainty in ongoing verbal interactions moderate the knowledge–engagement relationship, while controlling for potential confounding and competing influences.<br /><br />Methods<br />The study employs a longitudinal, multi-method design. It combines video recordings of nine consecutive lessons about Economic Business Processes in two classes, preceding tests on intellectual abilities and economic literacy, questionnaire reports of teacher–student relations and instructional clarity, and Continuous State Sampling during instructional activities. Interactional features were classified by applying a fine-grained category system that distinguishes coordinating gestures as well as types and qualities of dialogic exchanges.<br /><br />Results and discussion<br />Hierarchical regression analyses provide some evidence that getting opportunities to engage in valuable components of classroom dialogue depend on domain-specific prior knowledge. Differential teacher treatment exists in cold calling strategies and demanding follow-up techniques, even after controlling for students’ gender. Moderated regressions for effects of prior knowledge and situational uncertainty on students’ communicative behaviours indicate that advanced knowledge structures do not affect the mere quantity of a student’s verbal contributions. But they robustly predict the degree of elaboration in given answers, together with positive teacher–student-relations, and net of the influences of student gender and instructional clarity. Feelings of uncertainty neither keep students from participating in classroom dialogue nor impair the quality of their contributions.<br /><br />Conclusions<br />Results suggest that domain-specific prior knowledge is not an indispensable prerequisite to contribute ‘somehow’ to classroom dialogue. However, it is a decisive factor for participation and involvement in those dialogic practices that promote cognitive elaboration. Thus, when researching Matthew effects, differences concerning student engagement in pedagogically valuable features of classroom dialogue might aid in identifying how instructional communication enhances or reduces differences in learning gains. 2017-10-12T09:45:45Z 2017-10-12T09:45:45Z Warwas, Julia Functional relevance of students' prior knowledge and situational uncertainty during verbal interactions in vocational classrooms : evidence from a mixed-methods study

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