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Expressing certainty and uncertainty in parent-teacher conferences: effects on legitimacy and role fulfillment

Boekbijdrage - Boekabstract Conferentiebijdrage

Parent teacher conferences represent a setting in which the social institutions school and family meet and are able to intersect and interact. They can be studied as one of several forms of institutional interaction, organized as a specialized system of turn-taking based on questions and answers. On first sight these meetings seem pre-defined and they seem to follow fixed structures that allocate specific roles to the teacher and the parent(s). Teachers in their position as U+201Cthe professionalU+201D are expected to deliver precise accounts of the performance of the children at school. Parents on the other hand can be perceived as U+201CexpertsU+201D concerning their individual child. Due to these positions and their knowledge, parents and teachers can deliver particular certain pieces of information. Nevertheless teachers and parents are confronted with various challenges and uncertainties in these talks, prominently with instances concerning legitimacy and the ability to fulfill their role as a teacher or a parent. We might for example think of a teacher advising certain strategies to improve the childrenU+2019s performance, whose effectiveness cannot be guaranteed. The question is, how can potential uncertainty be expressed without endangering oneU+2019s legitimacy? How do parents and teachers frame their uncertainties, e.g. by referring to non-present persons? And how can the expression of certainty, e.g. by reference to professional knowledge, on the other hand be used to strengthen oneU+2019s role in the conversation? Our data consists of audio recordings of parent-teacher conferences at German primary schools. We are analyzing them using conversation analytical methods (Sacks, 1992) in order to investigate how the conferences are interactionally regulated and controlled, what techniques can be used to deal with the expression of certainty and uncertainty and how these work in the situation U+201Cturn by turnU+201D. The goal is to uncover and document systematic practices through which participants accomplish their social actions and manage their roles, and in this way make the situation work.
Boek: The Communication of Certainty and Uncertainty : Linguistic, Psychological, Philosophical Aspects, Abstracts
Aantal pagina's: 1
Jaar van publicatie:2012