Topic Development

Topic development in this discussion is formal and largely non-co-operative. The chair, B8, occasionally exercises explicit control of the floor, for example selecting B9 as the next speaker at line 5. The group stays very close to the topics raised in the set questions; this might be regarded as being constrained by the set task, or as responding directly to its demands. The teacher's presence probably contributes to the formality of the topic development: he intervenes to select G11 as the next speaker at line 28, and also extends the topic under discussion by asking further questions about it, at lines 76-78 and 80.

Another non-co-operative aspect of the discussion is that the four pupils develop points separately although they may agree with one another. Speakers raise separate examples to support the same point; for example, between lines 37 and 55, B8, B9, G11 and G12 all give illustrations from the text of Mitchum's skilful leadership, but all three make completely independent points and do not comment on the point made by the previous speaker. Only one speaker holds the floor a time: there is none of the overlapping speech and joint turn construction of Group IV, for example.

There is also explicit and some times unmitigated disagreement in the discussion. For example, B8 contradicts B9 at lines 12-15; G12 contradicts G11 at lines 32-35; at lines 78-80 B8, prompted by the teacher, contradicts G11's earlier point. This is a more competitive facet of the discussion.

There are also more co-operative aspects to the topic development, however. For example, G12 summarises the discussion at line 65, and B8 asks whether anyone wants to add anything at line 68. As both speakers are acting in role on these occasions, G12 in her role as scribe, B8 as chair, this is not spontaneous co- operativeness. Topic development in Group VI's discussion is therefore predominantly non-co-operative, with both co-operative and competitive aspects also observable.

Back to Abstract and Contents Page