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Chapter Extensions: Part II

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Discussion Questions

1. Fairclough emphasizes interdiscursive hybridity as a feature of all text and talk, even as he suggests practices for analyzing discourse within a framework that teases out ways of interacting, ways of representing, and ways of being. This challenges the analyst to remember the blurriness of interpretative boundaries, not to mention the overlaps and blurriness among and between various approaches to CDA itself. Discuss how each of these chapters acknowledges and balances these tensions. Where and how do the researchers make room for uncertainty and contingency as they move from looking at parts to looking at wholes?

2. How do the authors in this section make use of ethnographic background in helping to support their more fine-grained analyses afforded by CDA? What concepts and practices are shared by ethnographic and multimodal observation and data collection?

3. Semiotically speaking, if all signs are signs of learning, is all learning the learning of signs and sign-making? Is the apprentice welder, for instance, in learning her trade, most fundamentally learning to signify her identity as a welder through the practice of welding?

4. The three chapters in this section present inquiries into small-, medium-, and large-scale research settings respectively. What are the particular qualities of CDA as a stance, particularly those described by Fairclough, that make it a useful approach to educational inquiry whether the researcher is looking into person-to-person, whole group, or longitudinal inter-institutional interactions?

5. In each of these chapters, how do questions of genre, discourse, and style (what Fairclough considers modes of social practice) serve as a lever to pry open fixed meanings and assumptions around learning? Around teaching? What are the social consequences in education of creating such openings?

6. What kinds of insights with respect to distributions of power in educational settings are afforded by CDA as an investigative method? How do these insights relate to critical social theory more generally? Do the researchers drawn on such theory explicitly? If so, how?

7. How much participant reciprocity is sought by the researchers? That is, what kinds of roles for participants do the researchers encourage and entertain? What effects do these choices have on interpretations and claims?

8. Think about how these authors describe and present their coding procedures. Might it be possible for another researcher to replicate these analytic procedures with the same or similar sets of data?

9. How have the researchers in this study addressed what Gee calls “the frame problem”? Narratively? Procedurally? How wide are the contexts—temporal and spatial—provided in each of these chapters’ analyses?

 

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