A communication methodology focused on ecological unitizing designed to enable upper elementary school students to generate their own appropriate learning goals
This dissertation creates and tests a communication methodology, focused on ecological unitizing, designed to enable upper elementary school students to generate their own appropriate learning goals. A communication methodology provides a mechanism by which persons can design their own communication practices (methods, strategies, options) to meet the demands of situations for which the communication methodology is constructed. When ecologically unitizing, an active perceiver views a chosen situation holistically for a particular purpose by discovering and selecting pertinent information elements and the relationships among them necessary to describe the situation. This dissertation focuses on teachers and students as active communicators who use a communication methodology to discover, adapt, and integrate many pertinent fragments of accessible information into ecological units to enable students to generate their own learning goals.The perspective of human communication underlying this research links Buber's dialogic perspective of making the other present (Friedman, 1976) with Foss and Griffin's (1995) Invitational Rhetoric and with Maturana and Varela's (1970, 1987) biological perspective which explains the communication of social life as human structural coupling. These perspectives are linked by Krippendorff's (1993) emphasis on cognitive autonomy, reflexive communication and moral responsibility.The communication methodology as designed was tested with fourth through sixth grade students from August 1996 through March 1997. Eleven children participated in 14 semi-structured interviews. Data was analyzed in the qualitative cognitive tradition, using the constant comparative method (Glaser, 1967) to move between coding and theoretical categories. Extensive exemplification is included.A communication methodology provides a generator through which the communication methodology works. The generator in this communication methodology, the Interrogational Function, includes a question word (who, what, when, where, why, how) and a focus on one or more factor of Burke's (1975) Pentad (act, agent, agency, purpose, scene). A child's information about self, background, and interests is coded into the categories of agent, purpose, and scene. The relationships the child describes among these elements are viewed as agency, the means through which the child creates the learning goal. The child focuses and tightens his or her ecological units, successfully producing the learning goal, the child's act of creation.
- Communications