Learning Lessons: Social Organization in the Classroom by Hugh Mehan

By Hugh Mehan

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Field researchers are generally interested in describing the systematic patterns of routine behaviors that occur in social situations. To do this they adopt some version of a participant observation role in the social situations they study. They Looking inside Schools [1s document the activities of the participants in the scenes they describe. The field research approach applied to the school is characterized by detailed descriptions of a small number of school events. Unlike the survey, the purpose of the field study is more to describe what has happened than to provide a correlational analysis.

5:16 T: It starts with that "ss" sound we were talking about yesterday. Audrey: Snake. 5:17 T: See the ... - · Road. Edward: Road. The process elicitation asks for respondents' oprn1ons or interpretations. This type is illustrated by two examples drawn from a lesson in which the teacher is asking the students to decide on a modification of classroom procedure. Initiation Reply Evaluation 7:19 T: Jeannie, what do you think? J: Uh, helping with the trays. 7:25 T: Why do you like the middle one? R: Cause they could take their own.

They will make the researcher's phenomenon visible by their actions, especially in the absence of expected forms of interaction. The classroom participants in this study mark the sequential organization of classroom lessons by verbal, paralinguistic, and kinesic means (see chapters 2 and 3). They make classroom rules visible by accounting for the absence of expected occurrences and by sanctioning violations (see chapter 3; compare McDermott, 1976:158-161; McDermott, Gospodinoff, and Aron, 1978).

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