Classroom Interaction


Classroom interaction

This article tries to provide a definition of classroom interaction and how different approaches dealt with interaction to provide learning and teaching opportunities.

A shift in perspective

Gone are the days when the teacher was considered the sage on the stage whose job was to fill students heads with knowledge. Learners are not recipients to be filled, but humans with their own personal needs who want to initiate their own learning and develop their skills in a threat-free environment.

This shift in perspectives has its manifestation in the classroom. Classroom interaction has become of paramount importance in the teaching and learning process.

Definition

The term “interaction” is made up of two morphemes, namely inter and action. It is a mutual or reciprocal action or influence. In English language teaching, interaction is used to indicate the language (or action) used to maintain conversation, teach or interact with participants involved in teaching and learning in the classroom.

Different perspectives

Classroom interaction can be seen from different perspectives according to the approach adopted in teaching.

Behaviorism

From a behaviorist perspective, classroom interaction is reduced to modeling, repetition, and drills. The most salient feature of classroom interaction in a  behavioral model is the use of techniques that bring students’ behavior under stimulus control. This model focuses mainly on the transmission of the right behavior to students by means of stimulus, response and reinforcement. This approach to teaching is mainly teacher-centered. Students are mere recipients whose control over interaction is reduced to the minimum.

Cognitivism

The cognitive model of classroom interaction is based on the learner processing of what’s happening in the classroom to make sense of the world. Here, the learner is actively involved in the learning by means of two processes, namely assimilation and accommodation. These are complementary processes through which awareness of the outside world is internalized by learners. The input that the learner receives is processed and adapted to learners prior knowledge. Learners are actively engaged in the learning by questioning and making sense of the world.

Social constructivism

Interaction is at the heart of the social constructivist theory of learning. Learners make sense of the world not only by means of internal processes (what happens in the mind), but also through the social dimension of learning. This theory contends that human development is socially situated and knowledge is constructed through interaction with others.

Types of classroom interactions

Taking the different main participants in classroom interactions, namely students and teachers, one can think of the following possible patterns:

  • Teacher-students.
  • Teacher-students .
  • Students-teacher.
  • Students-students.

One may argue that the more the initiative comes from students in classroom interaction, the more learning is taking place. In other words, the more students are free:

  • to ask and answer questions,
  • to take decisions about the learning process,
  • to participate in discussions,
  • to initiate conversations,

the more they contribute to the learning process.

Teacher-centered vs. student-centered classes

It is worthwhile noting that there is a huge difference between classes where the focus is on teaching and classes where focus is on learning:

Teacher-centered classes:

  • Focus is on teaching
  • They are lecture-focused
  • Students’ talking time is low.
  • Students have little say on what’s happening
  • Teacher have to listen, take notes and memorize what they are being taught

In these classes, teachers do not provide an opportunity for interactions among students. Most of the classroom interaction is teacher-student oriented.

Student-centered classes:

  • Focus is on learning.
  • Focus is not on lectures but on tasks.
  • Students work collaboratively in small groups to answer tasks.
  • Tasks are designed in such a way that they have the potential for more than one answer.
  • Students talking time is high.
  • Students are provided with sufficient time and opportunity to listen and consider the ideas of others.
  • Critical thinking is promoted.

You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. Dear Mohammed
    I have been looking at your excellent reading material and would be interested in using some of them to prepare our Italian students for the preparation of English exams here at the University of Parma in Italy.
    The students would access the material on an online learning platform which is passport protected.
    Would you grant us permission to upload your readings onto our platform?
    Thank you so much for your kind attention
    Irene Frederick (www.cla.unipr.it)

  2. MOHAMMED RHALMI says:

    Hi Irene,

    You are welcome to use the content of MY ENGLISH PAGES Website as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

  3. Mohamed Boubakeur Limam says:

    Dear Mohammed Rhalmi
    So proud and deeply glad I am because of the suitable practical material you are supplying to us.
    English as foreign language teaching becomes a defeating challenge to most teachers and hence the constant need to a reliable approach is our ultimate seek.
    With my best regards.
    Mohamed Boubakeur Limam

  4. Ncube Courage says:

    Thank you very much Mr Rhalmi for sharing this article.

  1. July 30, 2017

    […] “The term “interaction” is made up of two morphemes, namely inter and action. It is a mutual or reciprocal action or influence. In English language teaching, interaction is used to indicate the language (or action) used to maintain conversation, teach or interact with participants involved in teaching and learning in the classroom” http://www.myenglishpages.com/blog/classroom-interaction/ […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *