The Moderator Destroyed the Discussion

We saw that Ahmad thought that Rim and Fatima were silent during the last episode of the discussion because they went out of the class, and didn’t pay much attention to this fact. Judith explained that this behavior characterized weak students. In contrast, Fatima explained her silence as a demonstration. She claimed that by summarizing, Ahmad did not fulfill his role of moderator and became a regular discussant. She considered his moves in Turns 38, 42, 43, 44 and 45 as personal interventions that conveyed his opinion. For her, his summary in Turn 47 looks the same. For example, these are her comments on Ahmad’s interaction with Judith: One argues with the other, between Ahmad and Judith, and at the end he writes HIS summary. Interestingly, Fatima concludes her comment on Turn 47 by expressing an opposition to Ahmad status rather than to his opinion: His summary relies on our opinions, maybe on mine, but what we say is that we should have reached this conclusion by ourselves. Therefore, the opposition, and the silence originates from what Fatima seems as a violation in Ahmad’s role of moderator. The context of the discussion was, for Fatima, peer argumentation without any authoritative guidance: I transmit you what I have and you transmit what you have and maybe something different will come out of that. In her interview, Fatima was clear that if the authority conveys his opinion, the discussion is destroyed: If the teacher intervenes during discussion, students feel ashamed to express their opinion or to argue in front of the teacher. […] the teacher can tell you that your idea is not correct, […].

The appropriation of the opinions of Rim and Fatima in Ahmad’s summary, which was a way for Ahmad to promote a further discussion, is understood very negatively:He took ourwords as if theywere his!Anatural consequence of this feeling in Turn 48—when Ahmad requests agreement or alternative summaries, is her refusal to resume participation: He began to sum up, he summarized what hewanted andwhy to putmy reaction there? There’s no need!…He should have shown interest inwhatwewrote. Her comment on Judith’s intervention on Turn 49 (I agree) completes this very negative appraisal: This is what he wants to hear, so she gives it.

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