Negotiating interest in learning: Classroom community, peer group and personal contexts

Year: 2004

Author: Pressick-Kilborn, Kimberley, Walker, Richard

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

When interest in learning is conceptualised from a sociocultural perspective, the focus shifts to dynamic processes of development. Particular emphasis is placed on the affordances and constraints co-created in the structuring of the social world and the actions and choices of individuals. This channeling, or canalising, process of interest development is reflective of the values of multiple communities in which individuals participate, as well as the meanings and shared purpose negotiated in specific learning contexts. This paper draws on a study that explored the social nature of the emergence, development and maintenance of interest amongst students and their teacher in a classroom learning community. Qualitative data were collected over time to investigate the ways in which teacher actions, collaborative student activities, and individual student actions interacted to create and canalise interest development. Analysis and interpretation of this data were designed to contribute to the re-conceptualisation of interest by considering and extending key notions of sociocultural theories. An important issue raised by Valsiner (1992) is that we can only recognise interest once it is externalised in particular contexts, which presents a problem in studying its emergence and development. This issue is revisited in this paper as a theoretical and methodological challenge.