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John Hennings, Tristan Wallhead and Mark Byra

Peer-assisted learning (PAL) strategies, such as the reciprocal style of teaching, have been shown to be effective in developing motor skills. Despite this research, little is currently understood of how PAL strategies influence the teaching-learning process. The purpose of this study was to use a didactic methodology (Amade-Escot, 2005) to examine the content taught and learned by two pairs of undergraduate students participating in reciprocal style (Mosston & Ashworth, 2002) episodes of indoor climbing. The didactic protocol included collecting data regarding student intentions, actions and interpretations of content, and the identification of problematic episodes in the teaching-learning process or Critical Didactic Incidents. The participants’ improved their knowledge and performance of lower complexity climbing skills. Participants’ failure to construct more sophisticated climbing content was as a result of deficiencies in the peer observer’s in-task error diagnosis feedback and teaching style imposed constraints on teacher intervention.

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Chantal Amade-Escot

This article examines the critical didactic incidents (CDIs) method used by European researchers in didactics. Originally designed by Flanagan (1954) in psychology, the CDIs method is based on qualitative accounts and analysis of critical moments in the teaching process when content is brought into play. The article reviews the use of critical incidents in educational research and then focuses on the epistemological aspect of its recasting in didactics. Criteria and guidelines for using the method are described, as well as some tenets for interpretation. The description emphasizes the fact that the CDIs method is anchored in a concern for developing depth of understanding of a particular phenomenon: the dynamics of the implicit negotiations between teacher and students regarding content issues and the co-construction of meanings that undergirds classroom interactions.