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Conceptualizing Power Relations in Inquiry-Oriented Classrooms

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Presentation for Research Day in the Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley (14 March, 2014)

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Conceptualizing Power Relations in Inquiry-Oriented Classrooms

  1. 1. Dr. Dermot F. Donnelly Post-Doctoral Researcher Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS) dfdonnelly@berkeley.edu; Twitter: @donn00
  2. 2. Overview  Background of the Study  Difficulties with Inquiry  The Centrality of Power  Direct and Indirect Techniques of Power  Implications for (Science) Education
  3. 3. Background of the Study (Yaron et al., 2003)
  4. 4. Spectrum of Inquiry Open Inquiry Guided Inquiry Structured Inquiry Closed Inquiry Teacher centered Student centered (Blanchard et al., 2010)
  5. 5. Difficulties with Open Inquiry  New roles that inquiry dictates.  Political and cultural resistance. (Smithenry, 2010)
  6. 6. Centrality of Power  Continuity of power in pedagogy. (Gore, 1995)  A society without power is an abstraction. (Foucault, 1983)  ‘Didactic Contract’, ‘Classroom Game’, ‘Ritualized Routines’. (Brousseau, 1998; Lemke, 1990; Nuthall, 2005)
  7. 7. Centrality of Power  ‘Who makes decisions for me?’  ‘Who is preventing me from doing this and telling me to do that?’ (Foucault, 1980, p. 145)
  8. 8. Micro and Macro Levels of Power  Micro – Dynamic between individuals/groups. (Cornelius & Herrenkohl, 2004)  Macro – Very explicit manifestation of power. (Gore, 1995)  Direct and Indirect Techniques of Power Enactment. (Donnelly, McGarr, & O’Reilly, in press)
  9. 9. Direct Power Techniques 1. Surveillance Logistical – ‘Now, how’s it coming along?’ Conceptual – ‘What do you need to know about the base?’ Nature of Interaction – Chance for meaning making? (Mortimer & Scott, 2003)
  10. 10. Direct Power Techniques 2. Regulation  Enforcing explicit rules through sanctions and rewards. (Gore, 1995)  See Oral (2013) for examples – 13-14 year olds.
  11. 11. Direct Power Techniques 3. Distribution  Student: I can’t log on.  Teacher: Okay come over here to this one [computer]. Okay go on to that side. Thank you.
  12. 12. Indirect Power Techniques 4. Normalization  Problem procedure – ‘If I see them going way off track you have to pull them back a little bit so that they’re not wasting the whole time’.  Student conceptions – Volumes/Indicator to use.
  13. 13. Indirect Power Techniques 4. Normalization Student/Teacher Roles  ‘Pretty much just prepare for the exam and once you get the information on it just use it in the exam and that’s it.’ (Female student, Shane)  ‘I like that the way that if you don’t understand something you just put up your hand and you know he’ll try and explain it to you.’ (Male student, Eric)
  14. 14. Indirect Power Techniques 5. Partisanship  Student interaction with concepts and with each other. (Cornelius & Herrenkohl, 2004)
  15. 15. Indirect Power Techniques 6. Persuasive Discourse  Teacher: ... Do you understand the problem?  Student: Yes, it’s to find the concentration of the ethanoic acid in the vinegar.  Teacher: Not really. What’s he [the problem] asking you here?  Student: With the concentration you can determine how much water....  Teacher: But what’s he asking you?  Student: Oh it’s to decide whether or not the vinegar is up to proper...
  16. 16. Indirect Power Techniques 7. Ownership of Ideas  ‘for most of their experience in secondary school, the teacher has chopped everything down into these very easily digested nuggets of information’ (Eric).  ‘I’ve never needed to be inventive outside of the virtual lab.’ (Male student, Eric).  ‘I can be very creative and imaginative in science.’ (Male student, Eric).
  17. 17. Implications for Science Education  Power relations can be productive.  Balance between understanding and ‘completion’.  Predefined scenario with predefined outcomes.  Tolerance for perplexed students.
  18. 18. Thank you! Go raibh maith agaibh! Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona! Questions? dfdonnelly@berkeley.edu Twitter: donn00 www.slideshare.net/mynameisdermot
  19. 19. Bibliography  Blanchard, M., Southerland, S., Osborne, J., Sampson, V., Annetta, L., & Granger, E. (2010). Is inquiry possible in light of accountability?: A quantitative comparison of the relative effectiveness of guided inquiry and verification laboratory instruction. Science Education, 94(4), 577– 616.  Brousseau, G. (1998). Theorie des situations didactiques [Theory of didactic situations]. Grenoble: La pensee sauvage. Coll. Recherches en didactique des mathematiques [Research on the teaching of mathematics].  Cornelius, L. & Herrenkohl, L. (2004). Power in the classroom: How the classroom environment shapes students’ relationships with each other and with concepts. Cognition and Instruction, 22(4), 467–498.  Donnelly, D. F., McGarr, O., & O’Reilly, J. (n.d.). “Just Be Quiet and Listen to Exactly What He’s Saying”: Conceptualising Power Relations in Inquiry Oriented Classrooms. International Journal of Science Education. doi:10.1080/09500693.2014.889867
  20. 20. Bibliography  Gore, J. (1995). On the continuity of power relations in pedagogy. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 5(2), 165–188.  Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977 (pp. 134–145). Brighton: Harvester.  Foucault, M. (1983). The subject and power. In H. Dreyfus & P. Rainbow (Eds.), Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics (2nd ed., pp. 208–226). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning, and values. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.  Mortimer, E. F. & Scott, P. H. (2003). Meaning making in secondary science classrooms. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  21. 21. Bibliography  Nuthall, G. (2005). The cultural myths and realities of classroom teaching and learning: A personal journey. Teachers College Record, 107(5), 895–934.  Oral, Y. (2013). “The right things are what I expect them to do”: negotiation of power relations in an english classroom. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 12(2), 96–115. doi:10.1080/15348458.2013.775877  Smithenry, D. (2010). Integrating guided inquiry into a traditional chemistry curricular framework. International Journal of Science Education, 32(13), 1689–1714.  Yaron, D., Evans, K., & Karabinos, M. (2003). Scenes and labs supporting online chemistry. In 83rd Annual AERA National Conference, Chicago, IL.

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