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EDFD459 Group 19 Presentation
EDFD459Learning SpacesBy Jessica Fielding, Elli Cowcher, Abbey Parkinson, Brooke Baldwin and Elise MonaghanPlease visit our Wikispace at: http://edfd459group19.wikispaces.com/ for our group collaboration
IntroductionThere has never been a more pressing need to break free from established conceptions of educationand how educational systems are being implemented. It is widely recognised that our currenteducational systems in Australia are not meeting the needs of 21st century learners. Reports ofdisengagement among learners are currently increasing (Twining, 2009) because teachers are unableto meet the needs of the students within their classroom.Because of the ever-changing world that we live in, we as teachers need to be able to adapt to createand simulate learning environments that are engaging and stimulating for our students. To meet theneeds of the diverse range of students within our classroom, we need to break away from thetraditional classroom and take on new learning environments that cater to the different learning needsand styles within our classroom. In doing so, teachers need to have a sound knowledge of the differentlearning environments available for our students, know their positives and negatives, how they workwithin the curriculum and how we can use them in our classroom to our students advantage.The intent of this presentation is to explore five different learning spaces: the classroom and school,beyond the classroom, the electronic space, the group learning space and the individual learningspace. Each description will focus on the understandings surrounding the environments physicalattributes, the implications it has on curriculum, pedagogy, students and teachers. We will then explainlearning in the 21st century in detail, looking at needs of students and what educators can do to aidestudents learning.
The Classroom and School (Jess)The following slides discuss theclassroom and school as a learningspace, looking at the positive andnegative aspects of the physicalenvironment. Image 1 (Personal photo)
The Physical:Children spend ‘thousands of hours’ in their school andclassroom environment (Douglas & Gifford, 2001) therefore it isvital that educators create a space that engages students’needs.Every school and classroom is unique. Image 1 (see previousslide) shows a possible example of what a classroom in aprimary school could look like.The important aspects of a physical classroom - some of whichcan be seen through image 1 - can include:• Natural lighting• Technology (computers, interactive whiteboards and iPads are all examples of technology)• Writing tools (including paper, pens and other various tools)• Chairs and tables• Floor space• Room displays (student work, inspirational posters and posters to assist with learning are all common examples)In the 21st century, classes tend to be created with a smallnumber of children, enabling for flexibility in the curriculum,helping educators to create lessons that are suitable for thechildren in question (Cruickshank, 1977).Educators must be aware of the ways that the children’sphysical learning space – both involving the classroom and the Image 1 (Personal photo)school grounds – should change (Burke, 2005). Educators muststrive to create school grounds that are appealing for students,helping them to feel comfortable and secure in their learningenvironment.
Pedagogical & curriculum affordances and issues with a classroom and school:As society evolves, there is a heightening awareness is placed on generalist primary teachers to create a space where all students’ needs are met (Rueda & Stillman,2012). This means that educators are encouraged to create an environment where diverse learning needs are both encouraged and celebrated. In a classroom, there may be EAL learners or children with a learning difficulty. It is an educators responsibility to ensure these student’s needs are being met at alltimes, along with other students in the class.At any given time, there is a lot happening in a primary school. This multidimensionality means that teachers need to create an environment that supports all the needsof students at one time – for instance, there may be a school play, sports, music lessons and curriculum learning all occurring at the one time and the schoolenvironment needs to cater for all these aspects.Key area’s of importance within a classroom and school:One key area of importance for the students and the teachers in a classroom is the seating arrangements (Cinar, 2010). Seating arrangements in a classroom can becreated in many different ways such as:- Clusters of tables, where students all sit facing each other. This means that group work is encouraged in the space, however it also encourages a lot of talking, wheretalking may not always be appropriate.- Tables lined up, where students sit in lines facing the front of the room. This arrangement can be useful because students will be encouraged to look forward at whatis happening at the front of the room – maybe on the whiteboard or interactive whiteboard. However, it also makes group work more difficult to be completed at desksand encourages independency at all times. Another issue with this arrangement is that students towards the back of the room can become disengaged with the class(Cinar, 2010). This means they may not gain as much information as students towards the front may.Another area of importance is the students view to outdoors (Douglas & Gifford, 2001). This can both be a negative and a positive aspect. Many students are creativelyencouraged through the outdoor world, and can be encouraged to complete their work by looking outside and therefore ignoring distractions within the room.However, some students may become distracted by the outdoors – the heavy rain, or animals playing together could be possible distractions for students.One further area to consider would be the interior complexity of a room (Douglas & Gifford, 2001). This refers to the variety of textures and materials used within thespace. Having a variety of materials and textures in a learning space can be useful for students, learning new things and discovering new textures. Having a room soexciting for students can also be motivational, encouraging students to be enthusiastic and excited in their learning environment. However, having a variety of texturesand materials could also create a distraction for students, as they are completing their work it makes it very easy for students – as a group – to become distracted,discussing their surroundings instead of engaging with a task.
(Elli)The following slide showslearning Beyond the Classroom,discussing how this is done,where as well as positive andnegative aspects.
When thinking of going beyond the classroom, we are often confronted with ideas of how to take the learning of student’s to anew deeper level. This may be by literally taking the students out of the classroom and into the community or using somethingsuch as ICT to give them insights into a new theme or topic. In the As 21 st Century as teachers we are aware that learning occursnot only in the classroom but in many different environments. These environment may include; other classrooms or learningspaces, outside, at home or in the community. It is important to note that as teachers we need to critically plan and assess howgoing beyond can benefit the teaching and learning of our students.The physical elements of the ‘beyond the classroom’ learning space & key areas of importance to teachers and students:Outside EnvironmentWorking outside can cause distractions for students which would effect concentration and engagement levels.Although using the environment as outlined in Reggio Emilia can prove to be a great way for student’s to interact and usedifferent resources, materials and provide constant stimulation for student’s whilst learning.Wider CommunityCan be quite a challenge gaining approval from parents to allow students to venture out into the community. Student’s are moreat risk outsider factors such as strangers or getting lost.Can be a huge positive and benefit both the teachers and the students. Teachers are able to make use of others peoples skillsand talents. Students are able to learn new ideas and insights from someone else besides their teachers- gain expert knowledge.ICTCan become something students rely on heavily and loss skills such as spelling or using a dictionary.Can limit the amount of research groups might do during a task to just online websites where all information may not belegitimate.ICT can have massive benefits, students are able to find new information from a variety of sources. Students are able to interactand engage with people from all over the world. Students are interested in ICT and because it is something different this couldengage them on a new level.Pedagogical & curriculum affordances and issues with group learning spaces:Going beyond the classroom is crucial for the teaching and learning of the 21 st century. Giving students the opportunity to learnin different environments and letting them correspond with others is very beneficial in ensuring that students gain a deeperunderstanding of ideas and topics. The challenge for teachers is how to plan using these environments to make sure that thestudent’s take away as much as they can from it – this can be quite challenging in some retrospect, for example a concept makebe able to be taught to a satisfactory level in the classroom as well as outside in the community however the risks of taking thestudents into the community are much higher therefore most teachers prefer to take the easy way and stay inside. It isimportant to remember that going beyond the classroom does not necessarily mean leaving the four walls of the classroom orthe school, teachers are able to give students experiences with a simply click of a button. Possibilities for learning beyond theclassroom are endless and so are the benefits that they can provide.
The Electronic Space (Brooke)The following slide discusses The Electronic Space. This image depicts a student’s online e-portfolio. E-portfolios allow learners to be in control of their learning, through self directed learning and interact with personal and collaborative learning experiences. They also allow individuals to store digital evidence of their own learning through text, screen capture, photos, video and audio (Miller, 2012).
Electronic spaces are multidimensional, they are physical and virtual, formal and informal, personal and professional, with independent and peer basedlearning opportunities. They also reflect contemporary learning and teaching styles, with access to an array of tools and resources with enable them to beflexible and adaptable (Keppell, Souter & Riddle, 2012).Physical elements which underpin electronic spaces include:- Furniture which can be manipulated and moved for different purposes.- Access to technologies such as laptops, computers, interactive whiteboards, mobile technologies, digital music players, video gaming, cameras, videocameras, and I-pads.- Internet based programs such as virtual worlds, blogs, chats, wikis and e-portfolios.- Technologies which support movement between learning spaces through the use of wireless networks.- Acoustics and lighting which support learning including adjustable lighting and sound absorbing materials on walls, floors and ceilings (MCEETYA, 2008).The physical aspects of electronic spaces can provide numerous opportunities for enhancement of learning. The MCETTYA recognise that electronic spacescan encourage communication and collaboration, which facilitates the ‘social nature’ of learning, whilst also meeting the different needs of learners(MCETTYA, 2008). But there are also some weaknesses of the physical aspects of electronic spaces. Ultimately the largest weakness is cost. Continualupgrades, maintenance and renewal of resources associated with electronic spaces are extremely expensive (MCETTYA, 2008).Creating a group learning space is a great way to encourage group work. For 21st century learners, working in groups and sharing information is imperative,preparing students to be life-long learners. Life beyond school requires students to work in group situations, therefore implementing a space in the classroomthat encourages this is something all teachers should consider. Allowing group work is imperative because it enables the teacher to get all students (high,middle and lower achieving) participating at a higher level than they would be if they were teaching a lesson and simply calling on students. It fosters a rangeand diversity of ideas from students, giving them multiple responses and ways of working out problems, and provides students with the opportunity to solveproblems together as a group. Instead of just learning from the teacher, teachers in group learning spaces also use students to provide their expertise in areastoo, so students are not always getting their information from the one main source. This allows for more engagement from students, and gives all studentsand chance to voice their opinions too and be heard. It provides more opportunities for students than just a simple, short discussion where the teacher ischoosing a couple of students to respond. Schools that create positive group learning spaces are able to improve the relationships among students, use theirclass time effectively, enhance students self-esteem and narrow the gap of achievement.For teachers however, being able to get so many positives out of the group learning space requires a great knowledge of both the positives and negatives ofsuch work, and requires them to be able to properly evaluate what is happening and provide students with learning opportunities that provide the bestpossible group learning outcomes for all students. Without such knowledge, students can become disengaged, and we may find that students are no longerparticipating. These group learning spaces can be badly implemented and this can result in one student dominating for the majority of the work, or otherstudents not participating or helping out which can cause problems within the group. There is always the issue of time constraints for teachers, and whenworking this can often become a problem, so it is best for teachers to keep the group work short, sharp and effective to get the best work out of students, andto discourage chatting about other topics other than the learning content. Some teachers are not big fans of group learning spaces, and believe that it issimply easier to just teach the students what they need to know rather than letting them learn from one another. Having such an attitude results in groupwork not being done properly which leads to lots of the negative issues with group work coming about. Group learning spaces dont work well for all students,some students would rather work alone, so getting all students to learn the relevant skills of working in groups, and communicating with others is somethingteachers must be mindful of.
Learning no longer occurs just in the classroom (Miller, 2012). Advances in technology has changed the way we share, use anddevelop information as it allows us to continually learn from the world around us (MDEGYA, 2008). Considering this, there is anincreasing need for the curriculum to reflect this growth and provide opportunities for learners to use and interact with technologiessuch as in electronic spaces. Furthermore, use of technologies and interaction with electronic spaces has been attributed as essentialto develop skills which are the foundation for success in other areas of learning (MDEGYA, 2008).The MCETTYA suggests the learning environments such as electronic spaces can enhance learning opportunities (MCETTYA, 2008).From a pedagogical perspective virtual learning spaces such as blogs and e-portfolios can provide rich opportunities for peerinteraction, problem solving, collaborative inquiry and connection to the outside world, the people in it and the information in whichthey can provide (Keppell, Souter, Riddle, 2012). Furthermore, Twining (2009) purports that electronic spaces such as virtual worldshave the educational potential to enable learners to explore, push boundaries, critically reflect and ‘learn by doing’ (Twining, 2009).A challenge for electronic spaces from a curriculum and pedagogical notion is authenticity of sources and credibility of individualwork as electronic spaces provide access to endless sources of information, some of which may not be reliable (Keppell, Souter,Riddle, 2012). In addition another pedagogical challenge of electronic spaces is helping educators move away from individualconstructivist approaches, to a socio-cultural approach. Learners no longer need to be working and assessed as individual’s, ratherthe focus needs to be on what individuals can do in collaboration with others (Twining, 2009).Electronic spaces enable students to engage in self-directed learning. But could also be viewed as a weakness of electronic spaces aslearners may need to be encouraged to use technologies correctly. Considering this one area of importance in electronic spaces inregards to teachers and students is the need for teachers to continually guide and facilitate students learning (Miller, 2012).Another area of importance related to student learning in electronic spaces is reflection. Virtual worlds and programs which involvethe use of avatars can provide students with opportunities critically reflect on their experiences and understandings. But a weaknessof this notion is ways which teachers can be supported to design educational activities in electronic spaces and their lack ofunderstanding related to electronic spaces (Twining, 2009).An additional area of important in relation to students learning within electronic spaces, is developing a connection between school,home and the community. Teachers need to design and facilitate and electronic learning environment which is flexible andsupportive, to enable students to broaden their learning from conventionally occurring just at school and just within school hours(MCEETYA, 2008).One further area to consider when designing electronic spaces is how they are going to be used and accessed by students. TheMCEETYA (2008) suggests that electronic spaces should provide both personalised spaces and virtual, collaborative spaces.Furthermore all of these spaces should have access to technologies which enable students to move freely and easily amongstdifferent learning spaces, without compromising connections or access to technologies such as the internet (MCEETYA, 2008).
The Individual Learning Space (Abbey)The following slide will explore the individual learning spaces of one of thepre-service teachers. She has spent some time writing about the spaces inwhich she spends most of her time working and what aspects theyencompass that help support her learning needs.
First I would like to acknowledge that all of my best work and study takes place in the home. I am not a student that can sit at a table at school or at the library and spend hours working on a task. I most likely possess behaviours that work in contradiction to ‘traditional and productive’ learning spaces. To identify which spaces in which I spend most of my time studying and workingon assessment tasks and projects I did some personal reflection and asked familymembers what they thought. Family members and I agreed on 2 separate spaces. The first area is in the lounge room and the second is in my bedroom. There are factors that make both spaces ideal for me and my learning needs. The most significant reason why I study in the lounge room is because that’s where my Mum sits and reads or watches the TV. My Mum used to be a primary school teacher, both classroom and art specialist. She has been a positive, supportive influence and has always been involved in my education journey.Before I begin an assignment it is likely that I will explain to her what I am going to do and then we spend some time brainstorming together (as she is full of great ideas). I always choose to sit on the floor next to the fireplace. I like it here because it is warm and familiar. The floor affords me plenty of space to spreadout my texts, notes and reference material. The lighting is not what most teachers would recommend but I have become so used to it that it doesn’t bother me at all. Likewise, I am not conscious of my posture and there is no support for my back when I sit on the floor. The television is usually on and family members are talking but it does not distract me. I usually join in on the conversation while still making notes and writing down ideas.
Once I have all my ideas jotted down, I move to my sanctuary, my bedroom. Here it is very well lit. The door is always closed and it is silent. I am warm and very comfortable leaning against the bedhead. I make sure my bed it made so I can lay all my notes flat around me. My laptop is on my knees.Here, I can sit for hours researching, studying and typing. I feel as though I am somewhat ‘in the zone’. Something that both environments have in common is that I am sitting with the laptop on my lap with my notes spread all around me. I am a visual learner and therefore I like the feeling of ‘being on the same level’ as my learning.Both environments have their strengths and weaknesses and during my VCE and university degree these learning environments have become routine. They may not be viewed as the most comfortable and productive areas to learn in, but for me they are just that. New pedagogies are changing the ways teachers implement the curriculum into everyday education. They are more flexible and understanding of children’s differing learning needs and should be willing to make the changes to meet these needs. Similarly the desk/table and chair is not the ideal learning space for every student. A generalisation of past beliefs is that if student sit at a desk, on a chair, with a lamp or in a well lit room then they are in the perfect environment to be a successful learner. Twenty first century teachers are facing the challenge of establishing learning spaces that suit the individual. Teachers have the opportunity to help their students to find the learning environment that best suits their learning needs. In certain areas of the curriculum, in someactivities, the students may be offered a choice of learning spaces. The individual may prefer to do research while sitting in a beanbag. The small group might choose to sit in the reading corner or perhaps on the carpet in the corridor. Productivity is not tied to the desk and chair.
The Group Learning Space (Elise) The following slides discuss the GroupLearning Space which incorporates pod desk arrangements and lots of carpet space for students to do group work.
Group work been used in “teaching for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 1970s and the work of Lev Vygotsky that groups were widely recognized as key to thelearning process. Vygotsky drew the world’s attention to the vital importance of collaboration.”(Frey, Fisher & Everlove p.13) Learning is social, and because of this, Vygotskyproposed that “every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first between people... and theninside the child.” (Berk & Winsler, 1995, p.57) Vygotsky believed “all learning to be the product of sociocultural phenomena, mediated by interactions with others (Berk &Winsler, 1995, p.57), or that the learner’s view of the world is shaped by social interactions.” (Frey, Fisher & Everlove p.14) A students learning is “limited by the range of hisor her experiences, thus group work and interactions with peers expand a student’s aptitude for seeking new information. Because of this, collaboration with peers becomesnecessary to the learning process of the child.” (Frey, Fisher & Everlove p.14)Group work therefore must be seen more than a means of completing a task or project but as essential in allowing children to not only “learn what to think, but how tothink.” (Frey, Fisher & Everlove p.14)The group learning space is often confused with collaborative learning spaces, both similar in their approaches, but different in expectations set out by teachers. Thecollaborative learning space contains situations with two or more people learning or attempting to learn something together. It is carefully structured so that each person isaccountable for their own part of the task and their contribution to the assessment outcomes. This type of learning requires all students to participate, not just the highachievers but also allows for more student engagement within the lesson/classroom also. Group work on the other hand is a time when students are working together inpartners or small groups on a task, which requires students to work together in class/outside under supervision of the teacher or parents. Unfortunately with group workthere is often students who don’t participate and are not involved, and always students who take over and do all the work. This can be a problem and as such needs solutionsto involve all students and give all students equal roles within the groups.The physical elements of the group learning space & key areas of importance to teachers and students:Tables are grouped in clusters (Cinar, 2010)Having tables grouped into clusters can distract students from their classroom and result in loss of concentration.However it can also foster a positive group learning space, and encourage group work and discussion between groupsAmple floor spaceCan restrict the amount of area left for tables to be placed in, can also result in students sitting in a big area during carpet time which means that less concentration is on thetask, but more on the amount of room and where they want to sit in that space.Some students would rather be at their tables then on the carpet.Can be a positive because it means that in carpet time, you have the space to move certain students away from one another, also allows for room for a variety of grouplearning tasks to occur during carpet time to increase student learning, participation and engagement. Allows more room for the teacher to rove around and speak with allstudents on the carpet.Computer pods for students to useCan become something students rely on for students rather than writing, resulting in disengagement during writing time.Can limit the amount of research groups might do during a task to just online websites, and can also reduce the amount of discussion students have in person, may alsointroduce the idea of cyber bullying when working on a group project or task.Can be a positive however because it is using technology, a major aspect in 21st Century learning and draws on computer work which is a huge part of students’ lives thesedays. Also enables students to work together, find information and discuss online which is different to what normally happens in classrooms. Because it is something differentand exciting this could stimulate and engage students, making them want to participate more eagerly.Special areas for focused or specialised work to occur such as workshops, writing areas, and focus groups. (McLachlan, Fleer & Edwards, 2010)Can detract and reduce the space of the area left for other students to work in, and can also distract other students working nearby on the carpet.Can also work well to bring students off their tables and into a special area for their focused /specialised work to occur. Can be good to move away from always working attheir tables, and also is good when working with other students that are not necessarily in their table groups.
Pedagogical affordances and issues with group learning spaces:Creating a group learning space, which allows for group learning is a great idea to implement within the classroom as it encourages the group work ofstudents within the classroom. As 21st Century learners, working in groups, and sharing information is imperative in preparing students to be life-longlearners. Life beyond school requires students to work in group situations, work in teams and bounce ideas of one another, therefore implementingsuch a space within the classroom which encourages this is something all teachers should consider when creating their classroom.Allowing for such group work is imperative because it enables the teacher to get all students (high, middle and lower achieving) students participatingat a higher level than they would be if they were teaching a lesson and simply calling on students. It encourages and fosters a range and diversity ofideas from students, giving them multiple responses and ways of working out problems, and provides students with the opportunity to solve problemstogether as a group. Instead of just learning from the teacher, teachers in group learning spaces also use students to provide their expertise in areastoo, so students are not always getting their information from the one main source. This allows for more engagement from students, and gives allstudents and chance to voice their opinions too and be heard. It provides more opportunities for students than just a simple, short discussion wherethe teacher is choosing a couple of students to respond. Schools that create positive group learning spaces are able to improve the relationships amongstudents, use their class time effectively, enhance students self-esteem and narrow the gap of achievement.For teachers however, being able to get so many positives out of the group learning space requires a great knowledge of both the positives andnegatives of such work, and requires them to be able to properly evaluate what is happening and provide students with learning opportunities thatprovide the best possible group learning outcomes for all students. Without such knowledge, students can become disengaged, and we may find thatstudents are no longer participating. These group learning spaces can be badly implemented and this can result in one student dominating for themajority of the work, or other students not participating or helping out which can cause problems within the group. There is always the issue of timeconstraints for teachers, and when working this can often become a problem, so it is best for teachers to keep the group work short, sharp andeffective to get the best work out of students, and to discourage chatting about other topics other than the learning content. Some teachers are not bigfans of group learning spaces, and believe that it is simply easier to just teach the students what they need to know rather than letting them learn fromone another. Having such an attitude results in group work not being done properly which leads to lots of the negative issues with group work comingabout. Group learning spaces dont work well for all students, some students would rather work alone, so getting all students to learn the relevant skillsof working in groups, and communicating with others is something teachers must be mindful of.
Learning in the 21st CenturyThe following slides will explore learners of the 21st century and the changesthat have occurred to physical learning spaces.
As society evolves, the needs of learners within a primary school are evolving too. In past times, studentswould sit at their tables and copy down rote learning from a blackboard. Learning throughout the 21stcentury is changing and evolving at a rapid rate, changing the way students are being taught. As researchshows, students learn effectively through the use of open-ended tasks and experiences that enable them toactively engage with a task (Clark, 2010). Because of this, educators need to adapt the learning spaces thatthey create to meet these needs. McInerney and McInerney (2009) discuss how vital it is for 21st centurylearners to have the ability to explore their learning space, with educators giving children the opportunity tounderstand and discover a variety of spaces. This shows how imperative it is that educators create learningspaces that are engaging and flexible and can inspire the development of childrens ideas and understandings.Learning in the 21st century requires learning spaces that connect learners to their school, home andcommunity, so that the diverse needs and learning styles of all learners can be met (MCEETYA, 2008).Over the past couple of years The Nation Building - Economic Stimulus Plan has committed $16.2 billion toAustralian school facilities through the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program. These BER buildingshave been designed for 21st century learning and the spaces needed to provide these learning experiences.To maximise the benefits of these spaces, they have created sound proofed open planned classrooms, theyincorporate enhancements such as ICT, ESD features and furniture and equipment. Importantly, they havebeen designed with a collaborative learning approach in mind, to promote active, student-centred learningfor all students through flexible and functional spaces that support contemporary learning andteaching. (DEECD, 2012).
21st Century learning requires teachers to know their students and their preferred learning styles and to cater theirteaching and the classroom to the needs of the individual students. Therefore it is important to create spaces which allowfor a range of learning styles, catering for the individual needs within the classroom. Taking into account that students learndifferently, and often thrive in different learning spaces, creating a classroom and school that enables group situations tooccur, individuals to work independently and all students to have access to learning electronically (as this is a huge part of21st Century learning) is imperative in ensuring our students are being given the best environments to learn in.As stated by Trilling & Fadel (2009) to create a 21st Century learning environment that works together to support 21stCentury teaching and learning teachers and schools need to consider:• the physical buildings, classrooms, and facilities and their design• a schools daily operations, scheduling, courses and activities• the educational technology infrastructure• the professional community of teachers, administrators, and others• the culture of the school• community involvement and participation• the education systems leadership and policies"To support the unique learning needs of each child and to create conditions in which 21st Century learning can besthappen, new learning structures, tools and relationships must be created. Building in the 21st Century "wholeenvironments for the whole child" involves changes in the educational use of space and time, technology, and communitiesand leadership"(Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p.139)."As we move through the 21st Century, we will need to invent new learning solutions, new school designs, and new ways toprepare our students for the future- 21st Century learning is clearly a work in progress.(Trilling & Fadel,2009, p.140)”
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