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ERIC Number: EJ1136912
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jan
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1931-4744
Allowing Not-Knowing in a Dialogic Discussion
Feito, José Alfonso
International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v1 n1 Article 5 Jan 2007
Inspired by Bakhtin's and Vygotsky's theories of learning, this project explores how "allowing not-knowing" is enacted within collaborative student-led seminar discussions. Earlier research on student reflections (Feito, 2002) suggested that in successful seminars, participants regularly acknowledge their lack of understanding, offer partial understandings, and collectively develop new meanings. This project tracks these phenomena within actual classroom discourse. A detailed discourse analysis of a small "Great Books" seminar session (N = 16) describes how students construct a learning environment conducive to not-knowing and the open-ended construction of meaning. The students used discourse markers and sequencing to invite the recursive manipulation of ideas by the group. Breakdowns in the sense of shared validity engendered dead-end disagreements wherein students regressed to less collaborative forms of discourse and appealed to personal authority. Non-linear topic patterns and the deferral of closure cognitively challenged them to hold and reconstitute ideas over lengthy periods of time.
Centers for Teaching & Technology at Georgia Southern University. IJ-SoTL, Georgia Southern University, Henderson Library 1301, Statesboro, GA 30460. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A