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Learning for citizenship through classroom dialogue

Conference paper
Authors Åsa Mäkitalo
Mikaela Åberg
Published in Symposia paper presented at the 13th Biennal EARLI conference
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Education
The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Learning and Teaching Unit
Language en
Subject categories Pedagogy, Communication Studies


Currently many attempts are made in classrooms to organize project work with a view to developing the communicative and literacy skills necessary for citizenship in a world of digital media. The specific classroom activity studied had the aim of preparing students for articulating their knowing and values in the particular format of a panel debate. The issue attended to in the debate concerned climate change. In taking a sociocultural and dialogical perspective as a point of departure, learning how to argue cannot be viewed solely as the acquisition of an internally consistent form of logic or reasoning. Rather, claims to knowledge, are always dependent on, and produced in response to, alternative perspectives and argumentative positions anticipated. The analytical interest thus concerns how students construe accountable knowledge and what they consider to be acceptable arguments. There was also an interest in the issue of epistemic responsibility, i.e. to what extent and in what manner students take responsibility for the arguments they introduce. The data consists of seven hours of video recordings of students’ interaction before and during the panel debate. In terms of learning, the panel debate generated activities which touch the core of citizenship and knowing in a democratic society. The results show that the debate format has clear implications for how the students engage in the project theme. When organizing teaching and learning practices in this manner, students have to respond to the complexities of producing knowing relevant to a situation; a process which includes a range of discursive and evaluative activities which traditional pedagogy has kept out of view.

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