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Theme: Student Populations and Diversity

Teacher or TV?:
Contrasting Modes of Interaction in the Australian University Classroom

Nerida Jarkey
School of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures
University of Sydney

This paper discusses one aspect of diversity in the tertiary classroom: the issue of interaction style. It focuses on describing and understanding two very different modes of interaction, and both the problems and opportunities that arise from these differences in a cross-cultural context.

The paper describes a range of behaviours exhibited by some students in first year classes. It attributes these behaviours primarily to a mode of interaction characterised as 'broadcast' and 'continuous'. This mode is contrasted with the 'dyadic' and 'contained' interaction style commonly expected in Australian universities.

The paper concludes that, although perceived as problematic to an observer acculturated to a 'dyadic' and 'contained' mode of interaction, there are aspects of the behaviours described that indicate precisely the kinds of interactive style we are keen to encourage in all our students.

Full Paper in MS Word

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