Sub-communities of Mutual Learners in the Classroom: The Case of Interactive Groups

Carmen Elboj, Reko Niemela

Abstract


Jerome Bruner argued that classrooms should be organized into sub-communities of mutual learners, and Gordon Wells encouraged teachers to structure classrooms into communities of dialogic inquiry. Both theorists aimed to have students help each other to solve problems jointly, through dialogue. Interactive Groups (IG) are an example of such classroom organisation: small heterogeneous groups of students in which family and community members participate, stimulating communicative interaction and thus creating knowledge through dialogue. This article describes how IGs function as communities of mutual learners. As students interact with adult volunteers, they engage in deep and critical dialogues around their instrumental learning; as a result all members of the group learn more, and a supportive dynamic develops among the learners. The key to learning in the IG is the type of interactions created. The results of case studies within the INCLUD-ED project demonstrate these points.  

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