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“I’m Telling!”: Exploring Sources of Peer Authority During a K-2 Collaborative Mathematics Activity

Jennifer M. Langer-Osuna, Rosa Chavez, Faith Kwon, Jim Malamut, Emma Gargroetzi, Kimiko Lange, Jesse Ramirez
Published: 8 August 2021

Abstract: This article draws from a study on the construction of authority relations among K-2 students across 20 videos of collaborative mathematics partnerships, from three classrooms in one elementary school. Drawing on positioning theory, we explore how authority relations between children affected collaborative dynamics. In particular, we trace how children drew on both adult and peer sources of authority and the effects on peer interactions during collaboration. Through three vignettes, we show how students' deployment of adult authority through the perceived threat of getting in trouble can overpower peer resistance and shut down possibilities for shared work. We also show how peer resistance was productively sustained when the threat of getting in trouble was less directly connected to the teacher, and instead students positioned themselves and one another with intellectual authority.
Keywords: children / adult / peer resistance / Collaborative Mathematics / authority relations / peer sources / threat

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