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Networking at the elementary level: How does one-on-one communication affect a student's ability to participate and learn in the classroom?

1 December 1993


The purpose of this study is to explore networking (the initiation and establishment of useful interpersonal connections within a particular framework) and one-on-one communication as they occur in an elementary classroom. Researchers have observed a strong connection between the amount of participatory behavior, effort, and initiative that students exhibit in the classroom and the extent to which students value their achievement in school (Finn, Folger and Cox, 1991).

Significant links have also been found between classroom participation and self-perceptions of communicative ability. Fearfulness, anxiety and social withdrawal have been observed to exert a fundamental negative influence on social interaction (Hymel, Rubin, Rowden and LeMare, 1990), initiative taking (Chesebro, M,Croskey and Atwater, 1992) and the ability to think (Bacon and Thayer-Bacon, 1993).

In analyzing classroom behavior, distinctions have been made between pseudo-participation (e.g. short-term, task-oriented compliance) and committed involvement. Both Freire (1970) and Dewey (1938) were careful to emphasize the importance of liberty and freedom in their definitions of education. Student engagement and student initiative are essential both for the development of intelligence and for the re-creation 1 of knowledge into a form that is useful and real for the student.

In this study, I will be primarily concerned with describing and analyzing the networking, one-on-one communication, and student participation that took place in a particular fifth grade class. Were students initiating interpersonal relationships? Were these relationships serving the educational and social needs of students? Were students participating in the classroom? In what manner were students participating? Were students learning?


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