ERIC Number: ED446031
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Apr-27
Authority Discourse: An Examination of One Classroom's Authority Structure.
This study examined teacher authority in the classroom. Researchers spent one semester in a college composition class observing each class session, taking field notes, and tape recording the classes. Data collection also involved: interviews with five students throughout the semester; two anonymous background surveys of the class; an instructor interview; student e-mails and writing; and a tape-recorded discussion with the whole class without the instructor present. Results indicated that the instructor relied primarily on an indirect, middle-class authority structure discourse. Most commands were in the form of I statements, with content conveyed through class discussion. Students responded promptly and without question to teacher commands. They had a strong degree of trust in the instructor and internalization of the traditional classroom structure. Most students had a sense of the instructor watching and judging them, despite characterizing the instructor as easygoing. No direct instruction of writing occurred, but in their writing, students followed traditional structures. Students' backgrounds were consistent with discussions in the literature of an authority relationship characterized by indirect commends, politeness, and trust in the professor: predominantly white, middle- or upper-class children of professional parents, with backgrounds in college preparatory classes. (Contains 15 references.) (SM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 24-28, 2000).