Investigating the Classroom Discourse of
Francis Bailey, Ed. D. Ken Pransky
Language, Literacy & Culture Program Hampshire Educational Collaborative
University of Massachusetts Northampton, MA
Amherst, MA USA
I. Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment (FIE) Program
Cognitive education program created by Dr. Reuven Feuerstein, an Israeli
used in over 80 countries worldwide
• many short- and long-term studies attesting to its efficacy when done correctly
• standard program for children from age 8/9 to adult
• a series of 14 carefully sequenced “instruments”
• mainly content-less pencil-and-paper tasks targeting a particular set of
thinking skills (such as organization, comparison, understanding
temporal relationships, etc)
• designed to be used for two-to-three years
• strengthens the essential cognitive skills which underlie learning
II. Mediated Learning
a quality-oriented learning interaction focused primarily on the development of
the learner as a more competent thinker.
must have the following three characteristics:
Mediation of intentionality/reciprocity
* molded to learner
* learner focus sharpened
* goal: learner is more competent thinker
Mediation of meaning
*ensures learning has personal/cultural meaning
Mediation of transcendence
* builds the linguistic, cognitive and cultural competence of learners for use
beyond the current moment, connecting to past experience or future problem
III. Research Project:
Elementary School ESL Program
Pull out for 40 minutes per day
Three 4th/5th grade students with “disrupted” backgrounds
Hypothesis: Verbal data can be used to document and investigate the co-
construction of the three characteristics of FIE mediation
Theoretical Frame: Feuerstein‟s characteristics of mediation (Ben-Hur, 1994)
used as educational theory for research design and data analysis
Data Analysis: Data were analyzed using research tools from conversation
analysis (Markee and Kasper 2004) and classroom discourse (Bloome et al. 2005;
Cazden 1988; Mehan 1979)
IV. Data Collection
Class sessions recorded and transcribed
Field notes & material collection
V. Data Analysis: Two Instructional Events
Transcript Two: FIE Instructions
Transcript Discourse Analysis
208: A: they all have [different shapes? Response to K‟s initiation #203-207
209: K: [are they all exactly the Initiation of meaning negotiation
210: same? K begins to re-initiate the task
211: they all have different (.) shapes. Echoes A‟s response in #208
212: What do you mean? Re-Initiation of meaning negotiation
213: C: They have a different number Response to K‟s question in #212
214: D: Most of them Response
215: have like squares:
216: K: well say so Negative Evaluation
217: label it carefully though K‟s direction to C to use language
218: they: (.) have (.) carefully is a negative evaluation
219: a different number K restates C‟s comment in #213 (uses
220: they all have a different number? the same sentence pattern, but adds in
Re-initiation in #220
Transcript Six: Modeling Thinking
Transcript Discourse Analysis
470: A: Paint is not a liquid Statement
[A. begins at the bottom of the work sheet]
471: K: I want you to start at the (.) Command
472: why would you start at the bottom? (2) Initiation
473: Where’s a good place to start? Re-initiation
474: [A points to top of page] Response
475: K: Good Evaluation
1) Transcript analysis enables us to evaluate learning interactions as being grounded in
the essential characteristics of Mediated Learning Experiences (mediation of
transcendence, meaning and intentionality/reciprocity). In these lessons, our analysis of
the linguistic data uncovered clear evidence that the teacher was providing Mediated
Learning Experiences for his students.
2) The use of more than one discourse pattern played a central role in the enactment of
the FIE program in this setting. The skillful use of I-R-E sequences, while alone not
sufficient to create a fully Mediated Learning Experience, helped ground these particular
students in the thinking needed to successfully do the FIE page. Then the teacher moved
to open-ended questioning and probing of students‟ reasoning, which enabled them to
take ownership of their new learning.
3) The lesson analyzed in this research shows how competence is co-constructed through
moment-to-moment interaction grounded in the characteristics of Mediated Learning
Experiences. Meaning is constructed within communicative events (Hymes 1974), and
the establishment of routines—normative ways of interacting—is essential. The FIE
program as enacted in the New School provided a consistent set of vocabulary,
interactional norms, goals and materials that facilitated this process of making meaning.
4) We believe that this research contributes to the FIE literature by documenting and
analyzing the fluid and dynamic discursive processes involved in mediating learning in a
classroom setting. The transcripts provide a rich source of information on the situated
complexities of co-constructing the three universal components of an MLE.
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