Managing the delicate matter of advice giving: accomplishing communicative space in Critical Participatory Action Research


Source: Educational Action Research, 28:2, 275-292

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors provide a single-case analysis of interactions between an academic researcher (AcR) and a classroom practitioner that occurred in a Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) study of interaction in primary school classrooms.
Through the analysis, their aim is to contribute understandings of the ways that interaction between co-inquirers (Heron and Reason 2001) accomplishes communicative space to form CPAR.
The over-arching research question is: how do participants orient to, and manage advice giving to produce mutual understanding and agreement? In addressing this question, the analysis establishes how
(1) advice is anchored in the observed previous actions of the classroom practitioner in a lesson, and how
(2) participants use reported and hypothetical speech to produce ‘the problem’ in the lesson and advice to address it.
Interactions produce a communicative space wherein advice giving is oriented to and managed as a delicate matter in order to reach agreement about changing future classroom interactions between the practitioner and her students.

This article draws from a broader study that encompassed CPAR, whereby 12 classroom practitioners worked in collaboration with the authors to produce changes to classroom interaction (see Edwards-Groves and Davidson 2017).
The study was a year-long project funded by an inaugural grant from a large Australian association for primary school teachers of English.
Single-case analysis of one researcher visit meeting was developed according to analytic methods used in conversation analysis (CA).
The authors selected one audiorecording of a meeting that had followed observation of a classroom lesson during a researcher visit.
They listened to the recording and made a number of initial observations:
a lot of advice was given by the AcR, the classroom practitioner at times gave very minimal responses, reported speech (Holt 1996) or quotes of what was said in the lesson, was massively present and suggestions for the final recording encompassed hypothetical talk, that showed how classroom interaction might play out on the day.
To examine these initial ‘noticings’ (Schegloff 2007) more thoroughly, they conducted a detailed analysis.
In line with single-case analysis in CA, this resulted in the delineation of specific interactional phenomena.
Extended sequences of advice giving were identified and three selected for more detailed transcription using Jefferson notation (Atkinson and Heritage 1999).
The three extended sequences were selected because they all contained advice giving and encompassed reported speech.
Overall, the audio recording contained 122 uses of reported actual/hypothetical speech, so the focus on this aspect of advice giving in the three sequences is representative of the ways it was used to justify the advice given by the AcR and agreed upon by the classroom practitioner.

The authors’analysis provides a detailed consideration of the ways in which research participants in one study developed shared understandings and agreement on future action.
The analysis establishes in particular the ways in which the two participants oriented to and managed advice giving based on a lesson taught by the classroom practitioner and observed by the AcR.
The detailed analysis shows recurrent features of advice-giving, which establish it to be oriented to and managed as a delicate matter in talk, so as to reach agreement as to future action by the classroom practitioner.
During the meeting, reported speech is used to ‘replay’ the observed lesson and talk that occurred in it between the teacher and students.
The replaying of the teacher’s interactions through reporting actual talk that occurred enables the AcR to suggest to the practitioner that she needed to do things differently, demonstrate how she could have done things differently in the lesson and to illustrate how she should do things differently in the future.
The advice given by the AcR is instantiated through hypothetical speech by her that provides an audible production of how the advice might play out in the future classroom lesson to be recorded.
Not only does this illustrate the advice in practice but it provides an audible scenario that is hearable as different from the reported speech that informed the original advice.
In this article, the authors showed how these ‘fictive worlds of dialogue’ were central to working towards reaching agreement concerning making changes in the practice of one teacher for the purposes of a final video recording in the future.
Not only were the proposed changes encompassed within the advice given but they were ‘heard’ as being changed practice through the continued use of reference to the actual boys who had interacted with the teacher in the lesson and whose interactions had been observed by the teacher educator.
The changes that were proposed by the AcR were anchored in the observed practice of interactions between the teacher and actual students in the classroom and were represented as ‘doable’ through hypothetical speech.
Communicative space is understood to be an intersubjective space (Kemmis 2011).
Analysis from the perspective of CA shows how intersubjectivity is produced and maintained during interaction.
At a core level, the mechanics of turn-taking ensure close attention to the talk of others so as to provide consequent talk that gives an appropriate response to a prior turn and provides an interactional environment that generates further talk.
This is evident in any analysis.
In the particular case of advice giving and decisions about future conduct in this study, we see sequential features of talk that accomplish intersubjective understandings about ‘the task’ of discerning an aspect of classroom interaction that needs to change and shared decision making about the form that the change will take.
The way that the problem is produced shows how classroom interaction that is problematic only for the AcR initially becomes a problem acknowledged by the practitioner herself.
These aspects of interaction clearly illustrate the contention that ‘we cannot know what we communicate until we find the meaning given it by the “other”’ (Newton and Goodman 2009, 292).

The authors conclude that although, a single-case analysis may limit its applicability to broader contexts, the delineation of interactional aspects of managing advice giving suggest a number of fruitful directions for their own research.
Most immediately, their future work could encompass an examination of the ways that reported talk informed or illuminated advice giving (and receiving) across the 12 individual action research projects in their study.
More broadly, future work in CPAR might gain from further detailed sequential analysis of the actual ways that participants achieve intersubjective understandings during interaction to create communicative spaces.

Atkinson, M., and J. Heritage. 1999. “Jefferson’s Transcript Notation.” In The Discourse Reader, edited by A. Jaworski and N. Coupland, 158–166. London: Routledge.
Edwards-Groves, C., and C. Davidson. 2017. Becoming a Meaning Maker: Talk and Interaction in the Dialogic Classroom. Sydney, Australia: Primary English Teaching Association.
Heron, J., and P. Reason. 2001. “The Practice of Co-Operative Inquiry: Research ‘With’ Rather than ‘On’ People.” In Handbook of Action Research, edited by P. Reason and H. Bradbury, 179–188. London: Sage.
Holt, E. 1996. “Reporting on Talk: The Use of Direct Reported Speech in Conversation.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 29 (3): 219–245.
Kemmis, S. 2011. “Critical Theory and Participatory Action Research.” In The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice, edited by P. Reason and H. Bradbury–Huang, 121–138. London: Sage.
Newton, J., and H. Goodman. 2009. “Only to Connect: Systems Psychodynamics and Communicative Space.” Action Research 7 (3): 291–312.
Schegloff, E. 2007. Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis . Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Updated: Feb. 04, 2021