In this article, we investigate the multiple roles of dissenting voices in conversations for four Grade 12 physics laboratory student groups. The theoretical orientation draws from sociolinguistics and ethnography to construct a framework for examining the discursive practices of students using microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL) data acquisition technologies. The empirical analysis considers the ways each of the four groups negotiated an understanding of a common task involving computer representations of oscillatory motion. The analyses show how the construction of physics tasks by the different student groups involved more than doing, talking, and knowing physics; it also involved establishing and maintaining positions and relationships within the group, negotiating what counts as an appropriate contribution to the developing text, and defining the limits and direction of the task. Results show how a common task led to differential contexts for learning physics, to the construction of different public texts, and to the development of different opportunities for learning physics. In particular, student take up of dissenting positions to group decisions is presented as a way of understanding the differential influence of individual contributions to group interpretations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language