The social construction of participation in an elementary classroom community

  • Kovalainen M
  • Kumpulainen K
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This study examines the social construction of participation during whole-class interaction in an elementary classroom community. In viewing participation processes in classroom interactions as socially and locally embedded and constructed practices, the study illuminates forms and patterns of interaction via which particular participation modes are talked into being and maintained over a lesson. The analyses also highlight the ways in which the teacher interacted with diverse students of the classroom community and how those interactions supported particular participation modes. The theoretical and methodological premises of the study draw on sociocultural and sociolinquistic views on learning and instruction. The classroom community under empirical investigation consisted of 17 third-grade students, and their teacher. Detailed, micro- and multilevel analyses were completed on the transcribed video-recordings of whole-classroom interaction gathered from three subject domains. The analysis of the interactional and thematic nature of classroom discussions revealed four prevalent modes of student participation in the classroom community. These modes of participation became salient in the amount of student participation in classroom interaction, in the form and function of classroom interaction as well as in the direction of conversational exchanges among the classroom community. The analyses also reveal that the interactional practices of the classroom teacher varied whilst engaging in dialogue with students demonstrating different participation modes. As a whole, the study illuminates the moment-by-moment construction of participation modes in classroom interaction and how these modes mediate students' learning opportunities in the classroom community. A deeper understanding of the ways in which different participation modes are socially constructed in classroom interactions is likely to facilitate critical examination and possible refinement of existing interactional and pedagogical practices. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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  • Minna Kovalainen

  • Kristiina Kumpulainen

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