University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 22.11 Knowing matters: how students address lack of knowledge in bilingual classroom interaction (Jakonen)

Start date: Nov 22, 2014 12:00 AM

End date: Nov 22, 2014 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, S212

Teppo Jakonen. Kuvaaja: Sanna Vatanen.M.A. Teppo Jakonen defends his doctoral dissertation in Applied Linguistics. Opponent associate professor John Hellermann (Portland State University, USA) and custos Professor Tarja Nikula (University of Jyväskylä). Lectio is in Finnish but otherwise the event is in English.


This dissertation investigates how secondary school students initiate and conduct interaction to address lack of knowledge in a Content and Language Integrated (CLIL) classroom and considers how such interactions may relate to learning. Theoretically, the study draws on prior conversation analytic (CA) research on epistemics and language learning (CA-SLA) and research on CLIL classroom interaction. The data are 15 consecutive, video-recorded history lessons taught in English over two months to 14-15-year-old native Finnish-speaking students. Using this corpus, a collection of sequences was created in which a student indicates lack of knowledge regarding some aspect of the on-going instruction or task in a sequence-initial position. Besides these sequences, the analysis makes use of the pedagogic tasks and texts used during the lessons.

The focal sequences are shown to involve three interactional and epistemic tasks: recruitment of a knowledgeable recipient, identification of a knowledge gap, as well as answer production and validation. The findings show that students typically address their peers instead of the teacher to resolve lack of knowledge. They also illustrate that students can convey an implication that they do not know something in many ways, not only through talk but also by means of embodied action. Moreover, the fact that peer answers can involve complex negotiations for determining their correctness points to students and teachers being treated as having different rights and responsibilities concerning knowledge.

As regards learning, the study argues that student-initiated sequences represent a systematic practice for bringing about a change of epistemic status regarding a knowledge object. Locally produced learning manifests itself in the forward-looking orientation to becoming to know something that is needed for a specific action or a task, and then in the skilled accomplishment of that action or task itself. Students also invoke previously established knowledge and epistemic positions in later interactional sequences, even beyond an individual lesson, to construct social action. The study argues that such backward-looking temporal orientations also involve and demonstrate learning, and propose that learning in the classroom is not only limited to knowledge and skills set out by the curriculum but relate intimately to how actions are formed in recipient designed ways.

The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities, number 235, 306 p., Jyväskylä 2014, , ISSN: 1459-4323, ISBN: 978-951-39-5933-3. It is available in the University Library Publications Unit, tel. 040 805 3825,

Keywords: conversation analysis, epistemics, CA-SLA, Content and language integrated learning (CLIL), classroom interaction

  • Further information:

Teppo Jakonen, tel. +358 40 805 4916,

Communications intern Birgitta Kemppainen, tel. +358 40 805 4483,