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[Xmca-l] Re: 3rd generation activity theory



Larry,

Thank you for your reply.
I'm not creating objectives per se, the objective of the activity is for
the learners to decide what to do. Inevitably, they need to give a poster
presentation, a powerpoint presentation and a report on their findings. The
topic is laid out with the rest up to them. I let them be students with
very little interference from me.

I wanted to observe their collaboration, I use this term in the sense of
their working together towards a common goal. They need to decide what to
research, their schedule, what to present. What I observe is what they do
with the language, how they share information, how they 'assess' each
other, and what they do to move their 'object' to completion. Much like any
other research on dynamic assessment, I want to understand their process,
but in my case, sans teacher and without the focus on grammar.

I've been along the track of Engestrom's expansive learning, viewing their
movements as (based on Engestrom's 5 principles) 'an artifact-mediated and
object-oriented activity system, seen in its network relations to other
activity systems' and 'a multi -voicedness' and 'the central role of
contradictions'. (I don't have Engestrom's 1999 Keynote address Changing
practice through research: Changing research through practice, so I cannot
expand much further than cited sources).

If you want to view the object (the improvable object) as something that
permeates between systems, then it would serve to view each individual
learner as their own system, but part of a larger system. (attached).
Because of the learner's different perspectives, mediation is important.
They are constructing a shared object, (later they diverge as one of the
group members specifically divides the topics up and assigns them to
individual members - yet the objects come together at the end). If a
metaphor could describe this, it could be pictured as a group of students
sitting around a table sharing ideas. One puts an idea down on the table,
another one picks it up (or all of them), makes comments, adds information,
and puts it down again. As they do this they 'say something'. In some cases
the idea is returned to table without changes, but comments suggest changes
and the changes are made. The students have their own access to sources of
information, they can discuss information with the group or research
information elsewhere. It is a very open dynamic environment with the
object at the center. No one needs to say anything really, they can just
pass the document back and forth. But that is not what happens. And this is
not an isolated case, all groups (11 groups in all) behaved in the same
way. And looking over a number of years, each year, the presentations and
reports are completely different, but the learners go through the same
process.

As I have argued, the focus is on the object, not who is doing what, but
what is being done. The object is key to how they communicate or
collaborate. You might be able to say that there are pulling dynamics, the
dynamics of the group with impending deadlines force the learners to
collaborate, but the dialogue is very specific. The learners are very
detailed about what they discuss, what changes were made, what needs to be
done. I've also brought Feuerstein's MLE into the equation, because it
needs to be argued that they are 'interactionists', assessing each other
through their perspectives, and assisting each other in developing both
language and skills. The text in the forums, the text in the object that
they are building are just different modalities. But these different
modalities end up serving the other. I'm not sure if 'permeable
demarcations' is something that can be applied here.

My perspective may be very narrow, but without much collaboration with the
outside world on this topic, I may have developed a slight tunnel vision.
Hence my plea to the xmca list. Every aspect I examine always seems to
bring me back to the same place I started.

Mark





On Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 12:38 AM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Mark,
>
> I may be going way off course in my stream of thought creating an ox-bow
> formation that is irrelevant in this stream of your reflections and
> questions. If so just ignore my think-aloud.
>
>
>
> In recent posts if you were listening in to Rien Raud’s exploration of *
> *ity** your theme can be seen to circulate between specific/ity and
> general/ity in the dynamics of creating objective/ity.
>
>
>
> To construct the (object) of activity are you creating objectives?  Are
> these objectives developing THROUGH the process of objective/ity?
>
> You want to show or demonstrate that there are a number (count **them**)
> of activity systems at work.
>
>
>
> Content pushes dialogue & dialogue pushes content?
>
>
>
>   Is there also **pulling** dynamics **drawing** us to become absorbed or
> enter into a number of *systems*.
>
>
>
> My question hinges on the
>
> * permeability* of each of these (systems) that are demarcating the
> topography or structure of each (specific) system. What we (place) inside a
> particular system that occurs with systematic/ity **in order to** make
> sense of  the many activity systems that are creating (producing,
> constructing) the *object* as our objective. The objects particular *
> *objective/ity** that develops within this dynamic process.
>
> I will pause here and leave my stream of thought as an ox-bow phenomena
> cut off from the source of this flow of dialogue and joint participation.
>
> The exploration of the relation of (objects) and objectives  and
> (objective/ity)
>
> THROUGH a number of permeable demarcations.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
>
>
>
> *From: *Mark de Boer <mark.yomogi@gmail.com>
> *Sent: *August 16, 2016 7:06 AM
> *To: *xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> *Subject: *[Xmca-l] 3rd generation activity theory
>
>
>
> Hello!
>
>
>
> I have not posted in a very long time. I am hoping that someone can help
>
> out with my question(s).
>
>
>
> I am working with data from a group of 4 students, they are collaboratively
>
> working on a project. Most of their collaboration is done using an online
>
> forum, although there is some-face-to-face time. They are working in the
>
> L2, English, their L1 is Japanese. Their project was to investigate pet
>
> bottle use on campus and give a poster presentation on their findings.
>
>
>
> They have done some preliminary work, such as a survey to students, some
>
> interviews, some general research and have begun to work on their poster.
>
> (all dialogue is being shared in the online forum).
>
>
>
> The dialogue in the forum looks something like this:
>
>
>
> 1. Student A: 'Let's begin working on our poster'
>
> 2. Student B: 'I made my poster, please check' (poster1 file an attachment
>
> in the forum)
>
> 3. Student C: 'I've made some small changes, and I added some information'
>
> (poster2 file an attachment in the forum, originally poster1)
>
> 4. Student D: 'Student C's ideas are good, I made some changes too.'
>
> (poster3 file an attachment in the forum, originally poster 2)
>
> 5. Student B: 'I think that we should put the following contents in our
>
> poster (suggesting a list of topics concerning pet bottles and pet bottle
>
> use) Please give me your opinion.
>
> 6. Student C: 'I made a poster about (topic a), please check' (poster4 file
>
> an attachment in the forum, originally poster3)
>
>
>
> And so forth. This occurs the bouncing back and forth of the file, each
>
> student adding or changing something, expressing what they have done in the
>
> online forum. There are about 120 lines of data, with over 80 files being
>
> shared.
>
>
>
> I have used Longacre's analysis to prove that this is procedural dialogue,
>
> and Bereiter's discussions of progressive dialogue to prove that this is
>
> progressive dialogue, but I have gotten stuck on the concept of 3rd
>
> generation activity theory to show that this is a joint construction of the
>
> object of the activity, and that there are a number activity systems at
>
> work.
>
>
>
> What I want to show is that there is evidence of dialogue that pushes the
>
> creation of content. The learners are working from basically nothing, they
>
> only have been given a project of what to investigate, but the rest of what
>
> they do is up to them. They decide content, they decide what to present,
>
> and they decide who does what within their group. So, as someone makes a
>
> suggestion, as in 1 and 5, content follows based on the suggestion.
>
> I also want to show that there is evidence that the content created also
>
> causes more dialogue to occur. So as content is uploaded, as in 2, 3, 4,
>
> and 6, students respond with evaluation, changes to the content, and
>
> additions to the content.
>
>
>
> I can understand what happens between 1 and 2. This is a simple case. But
>
> between 2, 3, and 4 it becomes complicated. In 2, B uploads a file and
>
> requests evaluation. C downloads the content, makes changes, and uploads it
>
> in 3. The language in the forum in 2, I would like to argue that it is a
>
> tool, to inform the others that there is content for them to look at, but
>
> that this is actually a case of the content in 2 creating the reason for
>
> dialogue in 3. But at the same time, content is changed and uploaded in 3.
>
>
>
> In my efforts to understand this data, I have turned to two places,
>
> Engestrom's chapter from 1999, Innovative learning in work teams, and
>
> Daniels book 2001, Vygotsky and Pedagogy, mostly chapter 3, the discussions
>
> of Activity theory 3rd generation as a starting point.
>
>
>
> I want to argue that the learners are jointly constructing the object of
>
> the activity, and that object is what Bereiter and Wells refer to as the
>
> improvable object. The dialogue influences the content and the content
>
> influences the dialogue. Can this be argued as 3rd generation activity
>
> theory? I am thinking it can be, I actually think it is a perfect fit to
>
> the model, but I am alone reading these materials without anyone to bounce
>
> these ideas off of. My confusion lies in that this is with second language
>
> learners in a general English course, and most of the instances of language
>
> learning discussions center around the structure of the language, not the
>
> use of the language.
>
>
>
> Eventually, my final argument is that through this interaction, instances
>
> of dynamic assessment occurs between learners, because not only are they
>
> sharing files and constantly changing them, but occasionally Student B may
>
> upload a file with content and Student A (or other) will make a suggestion
>
> to Student B who will then change their poster file again and upload it.
>
> Again, much of the discussion of dynamic assessment and language learning
>
> occurs around the structure of the language, so I'm certain that this is a
>
> new field of study with respect to joint construction of an object coupled
>
> with instances of dynamic assessment in a language learning environment.
>
>
>
> I know there is probably much more I can write, but not to bog down the
>
> readers here, I am interested in thoughts or opinions on what is happening
>
> with the data.
>
>
>
> Respectfully,
>
>
>
> Mark
>
>
>

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