Appropriating Roles and Relations of Power in Collaborative Learning

Apr. 20, 2008

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 21 Issue 2 2008, p. 99-121.

Using situated social practice theories to investigate classroom interactions highlights the mutually constitutive nature of students' activity and classroom practices. Combined with examination of the circulation and techniques of power, students' appropriation of roles and redistribution of power is illuminated. In this case study, a teacher's hierarchical collaborative learning system spread rights to exercise power differentially among students.

Analyses revealed the ways in which students appropriated that structure to construct a more egalitarian system, as well as the inherent tensions and contradictions that accompanied that appropriation. Their reproduction and transformation of roles and power in the collaborative learning system afforded opportunities to engage as active agents; to participate in the construction of knowledge, skills and practices; and to contribute meaningfully to the social and academic life of the classroom. The hope is to contribute to theory and practice in a way that addresses the complexity of collaborative learning and resists simplistic adoptions that may undermine student learning and agency.

Updated: Jun. 15, 2008