Face-to-face

The segments below are meant to give you a chance to observe Cooperative Development in action. Each segment is preceded by a short commentary to help you understand the context. For more examples of exchanges, please refer to Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 from:

Edge, J. (2002). Continuing cooperative development: a discourse framework for individuals as colleagues. University of Michigan Press.

Context: This clip comes from one of the Group Development sessions that we held regularly at Aston University. In this CD format, one Speaker was supported by a small number of Understanders. Here, the Speaker was teaching in a Faculty of Agriculture at an Italian university in the period following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by USAmerican, British and Australian troops. Her general concern was that her students  needed to develop more critical approaches to what they read and studied — to be more socially aware. She was also questioning her own sociopolitical role as a teacher of English in those fraught times.

Commentary: From a CD point of view, the main point to notice here is that we can see and hear the Speaker talk herself to a deeper understanding of her concerns, with the moment of Discovery clearly marked by, “Actually, come to think about it …”  From that point on, she starts to identify more closely the possibilities for action that she feels comfortable with.

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Context: This clip comes from later in the previous session.

Commentary: The Speaker has been talking about her desire to challenge her students more with the materials she uses and by the responses she demands from them. In CD terms, we can see how the feeling of general unease with which she began is being replaced with a basis for forward planning. The Understander’s Reflection offers her the opportunity to identify a Goal in what she is saying and she confirms this.

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Context: This clip comes from the opening of another Group Development session. In a previous session, the Speaker had worked on issues of work/life balance and she wanted to make clear that her topic here was different.

Commentary: In CD terms, it is useful to note the importance of an early Reflect move. It is easy to sit and listen and “know” that one is understanding the Speaker, but this is not Understanding the Speaker. Understanding involves demonstrating, through Reflection or some other move, that one is fully on board with the Speaker. The Reflection here is accurate and, as a result, the Speaker is encouraged to go on in greater detail and in more depth.

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Context: Cooperative Development workshop for MA TESOL students, March 6th, 2014.

Commentary: In this impromptu session, the Speaker has volunteered to explore her development as an intercultural researcher. A noticeable feature is the way in which the Understander’s attempts to Reflect are never quite accepted by the Speaker, leading her to articulate ever more closely what it is that she wants to say. In a later comment on the session, the Speaker was keen to express how pleased she was to have identified ‘acceptance‘ as a key term for her research. She saw it as something newly discovered, almost at one stage suggesting that the Understander had given it to her. In fact, she introduces the term herself and uses it repeatedly to describe her developmental process. This can be taken to be powerful evidence of the usefulness of Reflecting — allowing the Speaker to see/hear more clearly what they themselves are already saying.

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Context: Alternative Communication Skills workshop, The University of Manchester, January 30th, 2014

Commentary: You may need headphones for this one! This is another impromptu session, plus discussion, audio-recorded during a workshop. Once again, it is noticeable (and remarked upon) that the Speaker experiences Reflections of what she has said as ‘almost new’. At one point, the Understander offers a link between two things that the Speaker has said, and then acknowledges in discussion that, while doing so, he was also monitoring himself to make sure that he was not introducing ideas of his own — a borderline case. In more general terms, the Speaker comments on how different this experience is from her more usual discussions of the same issues and, while no clear-cut answers have emerged, she feels that she now has more to think about.