Affordable Access

Information Performances and Illative Sequences: Sequential Organization of Explanations of Chemical Phase Equilibrium

Authors
Publication Date
Source
eScholarship - University of California
Keywords
License
Unknown
External links

Abstract

While there is consensus that conceptual change is surprisingly difficult, many competing theories of conceptual change co-exist in the literature. This dissertation argues that this discord is partly the result of an inadequate account of the unwritten rules of human social interaction that underlie the field's preferred methodology--semi structured interviewing.To better understand the contributions of interaction during explanations, I analyze eight undergraduate general chemistry students as they attempt to explain to various people, for various reasons, why phenomena involving chemical phase equilibrium occur. Using the methods of interaction analysis, I characterize the unwritten, but systematic, rules that these participants follow as they explain.The result is a description of the contributions of interaction to explaining. Each step in each explanation is a jointly performed expression of a subject-predicate relation, an interactive accomplishment I call an information performance (in-form, for short). Unlike clauses, in-forms need not have a coherent grammatical structure. Unlike speaker turns, in-forms have the clear function of expressing information. Unlike both clauses and speaker turns, in-forms are a co-construction, jointly performed by both the primary speaker and the other interlocutor. The other interlocutor strongly affects the form and content of each explanation by giving or withholding feedback at the end of each in-form, moments I call feedback-relevant places.While in-forms are the bricks out of which the explanation is constructed, they are secured by a series of inferential links I call an illative sequence. Illative sequences are forward-searching, starting with a remembered fact or observation and following a chain of inferences in the hope it leads to the target phenomenon. The participants treat an explanation as a success if the illative sequence generates an in-form that describes the phenomenon. If the illative sequence does not, it is partly or entirely scrubbed, a new in-form is introduced as a starting point, and the illative sequence begins anew.Knowledge of these interactional contributions to the production of explanations could allow researchers to better characterize conceptual understanding, be in a stronger position to support particular theories of conceptual change over others, improve assessments of conceptual understanding, and improve interviewing practices.

Statistics

Seen <100 times