ICE lab – Interaction & Communication in Education
The language of teaching and learning in a changing world

Learning processes and teaching can be structurally improved by optimizing interactions between teachers and students. Close scrutiny of classroom interactions, and the language used in them, can unveil the structure of stimulating classroom interactions, can highlight power relations, and can show different levels of inclusivity. Having more knowledge about classroom interaction and communication can support the professional development of teachers and can lead to a more inclusive, interactive, and effective learning environment.

The role of verbal interaction in learning cannot be underestimated and is much studied in educational contexts. However, classroom interactions have changed dramatically in the last few years. Who we teach, what we teach and how we teach have all shifted:

  • Who? The student population is now more diverse than ever. Schools generally strive toward an inclusive classroom, but do all students get opportunities to participate in classroom interactions – and do they take these opportunities? How does personality, gender, age, and cultural background influence classroom interaction?
  • What? The focus of student learning now goes beyond content and includes personal development (or identity formation) as well. How can we measure or assess this? How do students reflect on their own abilities? How do these developments influence teacher-student interactions?
  • How? Active student participation in learning activities is valued highly, resulting in classroom activities that require presenting ideas, collaboration with others, participation in educational dialogues and argumentation, etc. But how do students develop the knowledge and skills to do so? And how does this relate to subject matter knowledge?

In short: developments in education bring some challenges ánd opportunities to the study of classroom interaction. ICE lab aims to study the language of teaching and learning in a changing world.

ICE lab wants to find out if educational strategies and tools are suitable and effective for a diverse student population. Given the trend toward more interaction in the classroom (and higher demands to the quality of this interaction), we want to know to which degree students can and do participate and how teachers can support student participation in classroom interaction. Recurring topics are: the division of speaking-time in the classroom, inclusive teaching, participation and engagement, student collaboration, online talk – and the effects of teacher behavior on an interactive and inclusive classroom environment. ICE lab focuses on these themes and their role in effective learning, using a variety of theoretical lenses from linguistics, educational sciences, psychology, and the social sciences – all taking into account the content of the interaction as well as the social context.

ICE lab research findings are fed back to practice as we aim to use results to develop effective teaching strategies and improve educational practice. Through staff development programmes, knowledge can be spread, and consequently applied, evaluated and studied. Further synergy between practice and research will be stimulated by using data as training materials.