The quality of interaction of teachers and learners is often seen as being crucial to constructive education: see, for example, Principles into practice: a teacher’s guide to research evidence on teaching and learning for an overview of different types of interaction that are at the heart of teaching and learning in schools. Most TLRP projects have provided insights into the nature of relationships, dialogue and social practices that constitute effective teaching and learning.
The Improving Learning How to Learn in Classrooms, Schools and Networks project promoted particular forms of teacher-pupil interaction with the intention to help children become selfmotivated, autonomous learners who enjoyed the process of learning and understood what they needed to do to meet new challenges. The researchers saw assessment for learning as a powerful way into learning how to learn, but also emphasised the value of developing classroom talk and questioning, giving appropriate feedback and sharing expectations, objectives, goals, targets and success criteria with learners.
The Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning project promoted the idea of Pupil Voice as one means of improving the quality of interaction between teachers and learners at a whole school level. The Improving the Effectiveness of Pupil Groupwork in Classrooms project highlighted how teachers could use group-work as a means of increasing pupil-pupil learning interactions while ‘freeing’ teachers from many of their ordinary procedural duties so that they were able to reflect on their teaching and think strategically about it. Class teaching and/or briefing should include discussion about what is to be achieved and learnt and how whole class instruction is connected to the group-work. Briefing should also remind pupils about the skills, strategies and rules that they should be using.
In further education the Policy, Learning and Inclusion in the Learning and Skills Sector project researchers signal the limitations of the dominant ‘images’ that government has of putting teaching, learning and assessment at the heart of the Learning and Skills Sector as these involve a narrow conception of learning and skills. The idealisation of learner agency lacks an appreciation of the pivotal role of the learner/tutor relationship and a top-down view of educational change. The quality of interaction of tutors and students is also vital for adult learners.
The paper by Karen Evans and Natasha Kersh (2004) Recognition of tacit skills and knowledge: sustaining learning outcomes in workplace environments highlights the key role played by tutor-learner interaction in building learners’ confidence as they prepared to re-enter the labour force: ‘What is successful in one case may not be very successful in another case, but success is generally associated with a relational emphasis in the learning and teaching approaches used. For example, in Helen’s case, one-to-one tutorial help was the method employed by the tutor in order to identify and make her skills “more visible” in the context of the course. Helen said that the fact that her tutor spent some time helping her encouraged her a lot.’ (p. 66).
In higher education too the interaction between tutors and learners can be crucial. The Learning to Perform project highlighted how in music many students also teach. Their project paper The young instrumental teacher: learning to teach music while a student at a conservatoire recounts how many conservatoire undergraduates, who are already established as young musicians, are also often already experienced as instrumental teachers. Indeed they both expect and hope to include instrumental teaching in their career, consider that teaching will improve their playing, and think that they need to be trained as teachers, as they do not think that good performers always make good teachers. Many students look forward to working out how to improve their teaching and seeing their students progress, and want their lessons to be fun.
Publications related to the general theme of interaction are listed below: