Ebshaina, Asma (2019) Investigating Three-part Sequence in Classroom interaction: A Case study of Pre-Sessional Program (PSP) as English for Academic Purposes(EAP). Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study uses Conversation Analysis (CA) in an investigation of classroom talk. It investigates the three-part sequence underpinning classroom interaction, specifically in data collected in an English pre-sessional programme (PSP). The three- part sequence is a significant aspect of the way teachers manage classroom talk. It is through this pattern that teachers encourage student participation. The study focuses on investigating the design and organization of the three-part sequence in one classroom. The participants in the study were 24 adult EFL learners undertaking an academic English course who were recorded and observed over a six-month period. From 20 hours of recordings of interactions that took place during their pre-sessional English language course at the University of Huddersfield, 4 hours were selected and transcribed. The three-part sequence has been identified as a central pattern underpinning classroom discourse, and it was also found to underpin much of the interaction in the present data. Therefore, CA was used as a sequential approach to conduct a fine-grained analysis of how teachers use this three-part sequence to invite student participation, and thus to manage classroom talk.

A key advantage of CA is in identifying how individual turns are constructed and also how participants display to each other in different contexts. Previous studies have been mainly descriptive and quantitative in nature. Consequently, this study aims to unearth the sequential organization of the three-part sequence in this particular context in order to describe and account for the sequential organization and qualitative aspects of the teacher ‘s third part of the sequence.

The three-part sequence is linguistically expressed in teachers’ question design. It is initiated by the first turn which takes the form of a question. The analysis shows that “known answer questions” in the three-part sequence do not increase student’s elaboration while “unknown answer questions” are deemed to elicit more elaborate responses than are “known answer questions.” Despite the fact that in the “known answer question” the teacher has used a different structure functioning as elicitation and prompting student responses, detailed analysis has revealed that such sequences offer a degree of flexibility and function differently in different contexts. It was found that the teacher’s third turn expansion, including response tokens, positive assessment and the teacher’s repair initiations, contains an array of multifaceted actions. Their function relates to transitions, pauses and their intonation in the ongoing sequence. Positive assessment such as “good” and “very good” function as an evaluation of the student’s response, indicating agreement, marking closing or inviting further contribution Also, it was found that “good” preceded by follow-up questions can be more challenging to the students through prompting them to justify their responses for further discussion.

The notion of repair is also central to classroom talk and is often essential to the way the sequences expand or continue. The findings concluded that the teacher uses several strategies in targeting the trouble source, through either specifying or non-specifying it. Each strategy has different consequences for a student ‘s responses. It was found that in specific repair initiation, the teacher locates precisely the trouble source in the student’s response and the student initiates self-repair in the next turn recurrently with a non -elaborate response, whereas, in non-specified repair initiators, the student is invited to initiate repair with a more elaborate response. Such techniques, along with ‘wait time’, prompt the student to self-repair, participate or self-select. All these aspects of interaction are seen to be crucial patterns in encouraging students’ participation.

This study provides an extensive investigation into the use and design of the three-part sequence in the (PSP)classroom. The analysis revealed that the sequential organization of the three-part sequence in this particular classroom is ubiquitous and is not a fixed structure; rather, it offers a degree of flexibility. The overarching finding is that the specific design of each turn of the three-part sequence has an impact on both the students’ responses and the continuation of the sequence. These findings contribute towards revealing the recurrent patterns that underpin teaching in the adult (PSP) context. They also have implications for the pedagogic agenda and recommendations relating to good practice when it comes to teachers pinpointing the mistakes made by learners and the best ways of encouraging self-repair and, thus, student participation. Findings of this research broaden our existing knowledge of classroom turn-taking and establish a potentially significant foundation for specifying language teacher training. This thesis contributes to the body of research on classroom interactions that has been undertaken from a conversation analysis perspective.

FINAL THESIS - Ebshiana.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email