Power, agency and diversity in pre-school children’s multimodal performance repertoires: A critical exploration of children’s social interaction strategies in a group setting.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This thesis presents a case-study of four children within a pre-school setting, based in an area of high disadvantage in the north of England. The study explores the nature of children’s social interaction strategies alongside peers and adults via a quasi-naturalistic case study, with ethnographic influence.

Children’s interactions were observed and recorded using audio-visual methods, capturing interactions between children and adults within a mixed-aged group. The study spanned six half terms, over two academic years, to create the opportunity to observe as the cohort of older children left for school. Adopting a sociocultural position with an interpretivist perspective, a wide and broad view of communication was adopted, using a holistic multimodal interpretation, to gather cultural and contextual data around social interactions. Considering children as participants in a group dynamic, the theoretical lens of Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP) from Situated Learning Theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) was adopted.

The findings suggest that children adopt multimodal performance repertoires that change over time to meet the demands of the audience, notably so between peers and adults. Children engaged in speech as their main strategy with adults, whilst with their peers adopted a much broader selection of modes in their performance repertoires. The findings extend the notion of LPP beyond a defined journey from newcomer to expert participant, towards a complex and dynamic expansion of participation through which children add to their repertoires and use their power and agency to influence their varying position between interactions.

This study recommends that policymakers and practitioners acknowledge, value and reflect diversity in children’s communication strategies to recognise and embrace children’s multimodal performance repertoires when considering, assessing and supporting emerging social interaction strategies.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Sheffield
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Chesworth, Liz, Supervisor, External person
  • Scott, Fiona, Supervisor, External person
Award date22 Sept 2020
Place of PublicationUniversity of Sheffield
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2020

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