Re: [xmca] New and improved polls are open

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Mon Nov 24 2008 - 17:44:02 PST

Hi Ritva--

Thanks very much for your added insights into the article under discussion.
I was hoping that since so many people voted for the article, more would
contribute to the discussion, but perhaps the complexities of the article
exceeded their expectations.

In light of David K's earlier commentary, and the widespread interest in
Vasiluik's ideas, you might consider trying to arrange for a translation of
your 2003 article for MCA? If need be, we will, of course, seek to help with

In this connection, I would like to emphasize again/again/again how greatful
we are to those who are not native speakers of English who grace this
discussion with their terrific efforts to communicate in a 2nd/3rd language.
to reiterate that we will do all we can to support communication across the
linguistic boundaries that alienate us.

Thanks very much for your added insight into the complex processes that go
on in change laboratory research.

On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Ritva Engestr÷m <> wrote:

> Thank you Mike,
> for pushing more discussion, in the last moment, on A. Sannino's article. I
> am not a voter for it but have a special interest in reading the article
> because it includes data excerpts from the Middle school project in
> Helsinki. Being a member of the research group which set up the Change
> Laboratory, negotiated with the practitioners for their commitments with the
> project, conducted the sessions, and gathered the data, I might read more
> between the lines.
> Because the article wants to contribute to the methodology and further
> developments of Change Laboratory method, I focus on this topic. I have some
> major concerns related to how the CL context has been taken into account in
> the analysis. As far as there is no theory which can tell what the words
> mean (Barthes), the analyst has to rely on contextual factors. Dealing with
> the CL data, this requirement comes more to the fore because the
> participants are interacting in a polycontextual setting which integrates a
> special kind of developmental activity, everyday work of the practitioners,
> and learning. For me, it was difficult to recognize this context in the
> presented empirical analysis for the reasons as follows:
> 1) The discussed "Final project" was the outcome of the joint Change
> Laboratory work (not only the product of Group 2). Based on discussions in
> the CL sessions, the Group 2 was set up. The ideas brought in by the Group 2
> were discussed in four CL sessions, including this last one. Therefore, the
> immigrant students' teachers and researchers participated in shaping the
> ideas into the end form of "Final project". Immigrant students' teachers
> were not reacting on something that their teacher colleagues had planned
> beyond their presence. By taking a more dialogic understanding, the excerpt
> describes how a new meaning is generating while people are listening to and
> reacting on their own thinking from another position (as respondents to a
> new kind of question).
> 2) The chosen excerpt starts with the question posed by a guest in the
> session. She was invited to the session (her formal position not required
> her presence, see 245). Having expertise in integration and previous history
> with the researches, she had recommended us this Middle school for CL
> project due to its immigrant students. To add voices (diversity in hearing
> and seeing) by showing videotaped actions and interviews or inviting persons
> to the session is a quite common feature of the CL method. With means of
> expanding the potentialities of dialogue, you cannot make plans beforehand
> what will discursively happen (this is a demanding but fascinating side of
> CL method).
> 3) The participatory role of management has been considered important in
> the CL method and discussed in the literature. The obvious reason is
> authority that a member of the management has in institutional division of
> labor. This authority can provide resources to make decisions required for
> re-interpreting or changing rules (in the rule-based activity) so that
> experimenting or implementing new ways of working are possible to carry
> through in the timescale of the project.
> The analysis based on experiencing, in the article, points to two
> "restrictive representations" which were found. These are understood as
> triggers of conflict between the teachers (between immigrant students'
> teachers and other teachers) and between the teachers and the principal. The
> first representation case is the talk of the teacher who answered on behalf
> of Group 2. For me, it is difficult to find any evidence from the transcript
> for the quite strong claim by the author that the simple No made clear "the
> assumed weakness of the immigrant students." The answer ("No, this is for
> ninth-graders and tenth-graders") refers rather to the factual history of
> the Group in which the original focus was to provide to ninth- and
> tenth-graders a chance to improve their grades and motivate them to use this
> chance. In the excerpt, there is only one other turn by non-immigrant
> students' teacher (besides the above one). Her turn does not fit either,
> rather vice verse, she returns to the idea of Final Project and views that
> the motivation concerns all students.
> The second restrictive representation in the analysis came from the
> principal. The author claims that "the talk was an attempt to contain the
> creative process" and that "the participants reacted to this by purposefully
> making the issue fuzzy to leave space for action in the process of
> innovation" (249). All participants of CL are recognized and their different
> duties acknowledged (this is a basic principle of CL method). From this
> point of view, it is difficult to find a support to the claim by the author
> that the principal was attempting to stifle creativity while talking openly
> from his position. The same difficulty concerns the claim about the teachers
> "purposefully making the issue fuzzy." The alternative could be that the
> increasing complexity (with regard to the already approved formal status of
> Final Project in writing grades and certificates for the students who are
> completing the JSS and administrative rule from above the school concerning
> Finnish as a major subject of immigrant students) with diversity of
> perspectives made the issue fuzzy or ambiguous. In this context,
> re-interpretations of rules have to produce (they are not given) and require
> co-construction through negotiations (ontologically multiple
> voices/diversity refer more to conflict than harmony in Bakhtinian
> framework).
> In my opinion, the analytical method resembles critical discourse analysis.
> The analyst, who is an outsider regarding data production, is examining data
> by using institutionally existing critical understandings of the context
> (i.e. the others exclude the immigrant students, the principal has power and
> authority over the teachers). CHAT-based intervention method (CL in this
> case) seems to produce different kind of data which require respective
> research methods which take into account the dialogically based theory of
> representations and knowledge (in a collective setting of Expansive
> Learning), diversity, the otherness of the other, trust, etc. I am not
> commenting against the validity of experiencing but I share David's earlier
> comment on internal relationship between interpretation and experience.
> Actually, I have published (2003, in Finnish) an article about experiencing
> in CHAT/CL data using Vasilyuk's insights.
> The Change Laboratory is regarded as consisting of co-configuration
> processes jointly produced by the practitioners and researchers. Researchers
> have usually negotiated a contract admitting academic writing but they are
> committed in writing to be knowledgeable about backgrounds and contexts in
> order to recognize their associates (including also students, patients
> etc.). This side of CL method is insufficiently reported and empirically
> studied, including the role of interventionists and their (CHAT) tools,
> partly inscribed in the setting, and implications of these. I like to
> connect this discussion to new challenges of doing research as a part of
> re-thinking of science. As Nowotny et al., among others, have argued,
> changes in society and knowledge production have resulted in closer
> interaction of science and society, signaling the emergence of a new kind of
> science; not only in its research practices and the institutions, but also
> in its epistemological core. CHAT-based research has already a good
> tradition in science which is more integrated with its social context and
> societal practice. The implications of this perspective should explore more
> by us. The attempts to broaden the contextual representation of scientific
> knowledge invites to dissolve the boundaries between formalizations of
> rationality and new social standards of relevance in knowledge production. I
> appreciate Mary's initiative to elaborate more our paradigmatic methodology
> and links between qualitative research paradigm and activity theory.
> Finally, as regards footnote 3 in the discussed article, I would have
> preferred an academic practice of a joint article of the author together
> with the principle researcher of the project. Are the referred rules in APA
> even meant to be applicable as such in CHAT-type intervention or even
> qualitative research?
> Ritva Engestr÷m
> University of Helsinki
> Quoting "Mike Cole" <>:
> Vox populi, Andy!!
>> Lets give people until Monday, noon Pacific Standard time. That should
>> give
>> everyone a chance to vote
>> who cares to. I have been expecting a lot more people to comment on the
>> current article for discussion
>> since so many people voted for it last time, but so far as I can tell,
>> only
>> David has commented. Perhaps
>> I have missed something (again!)!
>> mike
>>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
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Received on Mon Nov 24 17:45:08 2008

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