Pupils collaborating in pairs at a computer in mathematics learning: investigating verbal communication patterns and qualities
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- Department of Education 
The dissertation concerns 9th grade pupils’ verbal communication in mathematics learning when they work in pairs at a computer. The dissertation includes three substudies, involving three sub-questions. The first sub-study is a research literature overview, which addresses the research questions: What are the important aspects in promoting pupils’ talk and reflections in small group settings using a computer? The second sub-study is an empirical study, which addresses the research question: What characterises pupils’ verbal communication at a stand-alone computer in a mathematics lesson? The third sub-study is an empirical study, which addresses the research question: What characterises communication qualities, if any, that can develop a pair of pupils’ communication and mathematics learning at a computer? The method of the overview study is based on developing an effective search. This involved finding and refining search terms, effective inclusion-exclusion criteria, and a trustworthy quality assessment. The methodological approach of the two empirical studies is design-based research. The most important methodical characteristics are the collaborative research perspective, the iterative cycles of design-interventionsanalysis- redesign, and the intertwining of designing learning environments and developing theory. Descriptions, analyses, and interventions are conducted in iterative cycles based on collaborative analysis of communication potential. To bridge educational theory, practice, and research through joint research reflections between pupils, teachers, and researcher has been a guideline for the design of the empirical studies. The data material is collected through an extended use of video recording, screen recording, observation, and “watch-and-talk” sessions where the pupils, the teacher, and the researcher interpret and analyse video recordings together. The first sub-study, the overview of the research literature, identifies four focus areas in the research of communication and learning at a computer: to establish and develop a common ground, communication characteristics, roles, and software design/task structure. The communication analysis in the second sub-study identifies six communication patterns that can be summarised in terms of two interrelated main aspects: thinking aloud and building a mutual language. To address each other, speak in chorus, and use the same linguistic turns are distinct patterns for successfully setting and taking each other’s perspectives. “Huey, Dewey, and Louie” talk represents the communication where pupils compose sentences together by alternatively making short contributions. These communication patterns help the pupils build a mutual language and a communicative common ground. The major outcome of the dissertation is made in the third sub-study on the connections between communication qualities and managing differences. The pupils have two quite different approaches on how to solve a mathematics task, yet they manage to have a productive collaboration. They develop communication qualities that make the collaboration possible despite their individual differences.
Has partsPaper I: Herheim, R. (2010). Communication and learning at computers: an overview. Nordic Studies in Mathematics Education, 15(2), 69-94. Full-text not available in BORA.
Paper II: Herheim, R. & Krumsvik, R. (2011). Verbal communication at a stand-alone computer. Journal for Educational Research Online, 3(1), 29-55. The article is available in BORA: http://hdl.handle.net/1956/5872
Paper III: Herheim, R. (submitted). Managing differences by developing communication qualities: Pupils learning mathematics in pairs at a computer. Full-text not available in BORA.