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Wolff-Michael Roth

This book is about language in STEM research and about how it is thought about: as something that somehow refers to something else not directly accessible, often «meaning», «mental representation», or «conception». Using the analyses of real data and analyses of the way certain concepts are used in the scientific literature, such as “meaning,” this book reframes the discussion about «meaning», «mental representation», and «conceptions» consistent with the pragmatic approaches that we have become familiar with through the works of K. Marx, L. S. Vygotsky, M. M. Bakhtin, V. N. Vološinov, L. Wittgenstein, F. Mikhailov, R. Rorty, and J. Derrida, to name but a few. All of these scholars, in one or another way, articulate a critique of a view of language that has been developed in a metaphysical approach from Plato through Kant and modern constructivism; this view of language, which already for Wittgenstein was an outmoded view in the middle of the last century, continuous to be alive today and dominating the way language is thought about and theorized.

Rigorous Data Analysis

Beyond ""Anything Goes""


Wolff-Michael Roth

In qualitative research, one can often hear the statement that research results are just (social) constructions. In criminal cases and in court hearings, we tend to expect that the true sequence of events has to be found rather than just any story. Here the author shows that qualitative social research can be conducted in the manner of police work or court proceedings. He does so by exhibiting how short pieces of transcriptions can be approached to uncover who, when, where, and how participated, what kind of social situation produced the transcription, and so on without any background knowledge other than that talk itself. Commenting on transcriptions of a researcher in the course of doing rigorous data analysis, readers learn doing ethnographically adequate accounts and critical institutional ethnography “at the elbow” of an experienced practitioners. Further topics include the role of turn sequences, the ethnomethods of knowledge-power and institutional relations, the documentary method of interpretation, and time-sensitive social analysis.


Mijung Kim and Wolff-Michael Roth

Science educators have come to recognize children’s reasoning and problem solving skills as crucial ingredients of scientific literacy. As a consequence, there has been a concurrent, widespread emphasis on argumentation as a way of developing critical and creative minds. Argumentation has been of increasing interest in science education as a means of actively involving students in science and, thereby, as a means of promoting their learning, reasoning, and problem solving. Many approaches to teaching argumentation place primacy on teaching the structure of the argumentative genre prior to and at the beginning of participating in argumentation. Such an approach, however, is unlikely to succeed because to meaningfully learn the structure (grammar) of argumentation, one already needs to be competent in argumentation. This book offers a different approach to children’s argumentation and reasoning based on dialogical relations, as the origin of internal dialogue (inner speech) and higher psychological functions. In this approach, argumentation first exists as dialogical relation, for participants who are in a dialogical relation with others, and who employ argumentation for the purpose of the dialogical relation. With the multimodality of dialogue, this approach expands argumentation into another level of physicality of thinking, reasoning, and problem solving in classrooms. By using empirical data from elementary classrooms, this book explains how argumentation emerges and develops in and from classroom interactions by focusing on thinking and reasoning through/in relations with others and the learning environment.

Alternative Forms of Knowing (in) Mathematics

Celebrations of Diversity of Mathematical Practices


Edited by Swapna Mukhopadhyay and Wolff-Michael Roth

This book grew out of a public lecture series, Alternative forms of knowledge construction in mathematics, conceived and organized by the first editor, and held annually at Portland State University from 2006. Starting from the position that mathematics is a human construction, implying that it cannot be separated from its historical, cultural, social, and political contexts, the purpose of these lectures was to provide a public intellectual space to interrogate conceptions of mathematics and mathematics education, particularly by looking at mathematical practices that are not considered relevant to mainstream mathematics education. One of the main thrusts was to contemplate the fundamental question of whose mathematics is to be valorized in a multicultural world, a world in which, as Paolo Freire said, “The intellectual activity of those without power is always characterized as non-intellectual”.
To date, nineteen scholars (including the second editor) have participated in the series. All of the lectures have been streamed for global dissemination at: http: //www. media. pdx. edu/dlcmedia/events/AFK/ Most of the speakers contributed a chapter to this book, based either on their original talk or on a related topic.


Wolff-Michael Roth and Luis Radford

Eighty years ago, L. S. Vygotsky complained that psychology was misled in studying thought independent of emotion. This situation has not significantly changed, as most learning scientists continue to study cognition independent of emotion. In this book, the authors use cultural-historical activity theory as a perspective to investigate cognition, emotion, learning, and teaching in mathematics. Drawing on data from a longitudinal research program about the teaching and learning of algebra in elementary schools, Roth and Radford show (a) how emotions are reproduced and transformed in and through activity and (b) that in assessments of students about their progress in the activity, cognitive and emotional dimensions cannot be separated. Three features are salient in the analyses: (a) the irreducible connection between emotion and cognition mediates teacher-student interactions; (b) the zone of proximal development is itself a historical and cultural emergent product of joint teacher-students activity; and (c) as an outcome of joint activity, the object/motive of activity emerges as the real outcome of the learning activity. The authors use these results to propose (a) a different conceptualization of the zone of proximal development, (b) activity theory as an alternative to learning as individual/social construction, and (c) a way of understanding the material/ideal nature of objects in activity.

Teaching to Learn

A View from the Field


Edited by Kenneth Tobin and Wolff-Michael Roth

A recurrent trope in education is the gap that exists between theory, taught at the university, and praxis, what teachers do in classrooms. How might one bridge this inevitable gap if new teachers are asked to learn (to talk) about teaching rather than to teach? In response to this challenging question, the two authors of this book have developed coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing, two forms of praxis that allow very different stakeholders to teach and subsequently to reflect together about their teaching. The authors have developed these forms of praxis not by theorizing and then implementing them, but by working at the elbow of new and experienced teachers, students, supervisors, and department heads.
Coteaching, which occurs when two or more teachers teach together, supports learning to teach while improving student achievement. Cogenerative dialogues are conversations among all those who have been present in a lesson; they ensure that what was learned while coteaching is beneficial for all coteachers and learners. Tobin and Roth describe the many ways coteaching and cogenerative dialogues are used to improve learning environments—dramatically improving teaching and learning across cultural borders defined by race, ethnicity, gender, and language.
Teaching to Learn is written for science educators and teacher educators along the professional continuum: new and practicing teachers, graduate students, professors, researchers, curriculum developers, evaluation consultants, science supervisors, school administrators, and policy makers. Thick ethnographic descriptions and specific suggestions provide readers access to resources to get started and continue their journeys along a variety of professional trajectories.

The World of Science Education

Handbook of Research in North America


Edited by Wolff-Michael Roth and Kenneth Tobin

Each volume in the 7-volume series The World of Science Education reviews research in a key region of the world. These regions include North America, South and Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe and Israel, North Africa and the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The focus of this Handbook is on North American (Canada, US) science education and the scholarship that most closely supports this program. The reviews of the research situate what has been accomplished within a given field in North American rather an than international context. The purpose therefore is to articulate and exhibit regional networks and trends that produced specific forms of science education. The thrust lies in identifying the roots of research programs and sketching trajectories—focusing the changing façade of problems and solutions within regional contexts. The approach allows readers review what has been done and accomplished, what is missing, and what might be done next.

Science, Learning, Identity

Sociocultural and Cultural-Historical Perspectives


Edited by Wolff-Michael Roth and Kenneth Tobin

Over the recent years, identity has become one of the most central theoretical concept and topics of scholarship in a number of disciplines, including science education. In this volume, leading science educators articulate in carefully prepared case studies their theoretical perspective on science, learning, and identity. More importantly, the authors of the chapters that in the different parts of the book engage each other in a collaboratively written chapter concerning some of the central issues that have arisen from their individual studies; and in particular they engage each other over the similarities and differences between their approaches.
This book, which features detailed case studies of identity as both resource and outcomes of learners in a variety of settings, will be of interest to anyone concerned with learning science in and out-of schools. The book also caters for readers who have wondered about how identity mediates science learning and, simultaneously, how engagement in science-related tasks and activities mediates the emergence and development of identities. The general tenor of all chapters is a cultural-historical and sociocultural framework that is brought to issues of identity, thereby inherently transcending the individual person and linking identity to cultural possibilities.

Scientific & Mathematical Bodies

The Interface of Culture and Mind


SungWon Hwang and Wolff-Michael Roth

This book is about the sensuous, living body without which individual knowing and learning is impossible. It is the interface between the individual and culture. Recent scholarship has moved from investigated knowing and learning as something in the mind or brain to understanding these phenomena in terms of the body (embodiment literature) or culture (social constructivism). These two literatures have expanded the understanding of cognition to include the role of the body in shaping the mind and to recognize the tight relation between mind and culture. However, there are numerous problems arising from ways in which the body and culture are thought in these separate research domains. In this book, the authors present an interdisciplinary, scientific initiative that brings together the concerns for body and for culture to develop a single theory of cognition centered on the living and lived body. This book thereby contributes to bridging the gap that currently exists between theory (knowing that) and praxis (knowing how) that is apparent in the existing science and mathematics education literatures.

Students in Action

Cogeneratives Dialogues from Secondary to Elementary Schools


Ian Stith and Wolff-Michael Roth

This book chronicles our work on cogenerative dialoguing in high schools and an elementary school. Cogenerative dialoguing brings together students, teachers, and other relevant stakeholders in the educational enterprise to make sense of some common teaching—learning experiences and issues arising thereof in order to design changes in their environment for the purpose of improving the teaching—learning situation. Our work addresses the overarching question: What will happen when cogenerative dialogue praxis is introduced to an elementary school class? More specifically we explore; the use of cogenerative dialogues as research praxis in terms of some of the ethical issues inherent in classroom research; how cogenerative dialogue praxis can serve as one viable solution for teachers to ethically mediate the various activity systems that constitute a class; the internal contradictions inherent in cogenerative dialogues; the “unfocused” moments during cogenerative dialogues; the long term learning that takes place during the cogenerative dialogues; and finally we explore what we learned from the elementary teacher we worked with. The intended audiences for this book are professionals or acedemics that have used, or are curious about, cogenerative dialogues. Specifically, the unique application of cogenerative dialogues in an elementary school speaks to teachers at that level interested in increasing student participation.