Volume 8, No. 3, Art. 11 – September 2007

A Study of Media Influences on the Learning Strategies of Students in the First Years of Secondary School by Means of "Subtexts"

Anja Kraus

Abstract: Students' lives are more and more influenced by the media (e.g. television and the Internet). These influences often extend to the learning strategies they use in school. To explore these influences further, the author used a method developed for the task to collect "subtexts" (comments students make to themselves during regular classroom lessons). These "subtexts" were collected during lessons in a 6th grade classroom and were subsequently analyzed using the documentary method (BOHNSACK, 2003). It was found that some of the collected "subtexts" were modeled on media prototypes, with these prototypes eventually influencing the learning strategies employed by the students. This relationship is explored.

Key words: subtexts of lessons at school, habitus, learning strategies, strategies of learning, documentary method

Table of Contents

1. The Theoretical Context: Research Question and Preconcepts

2. Empirical Approach to Research

2.1 The research instrument of an "auricle installation"

2.2 Design of the research

3. Analysis

3.1 Example of the reconstructive analysis of a "subtext" influenced by learning strategies modeled by media

3.1.1 Text interpretation Formulating interpretation "Reflecting interpretation" Varieties of learning strategies (knowledge acquisition) modeled in G's "subtext"

4. Discussion and Outlook







1. The Theoretical Context: Research Question and Preconcepts

The social and cultural circumstances of growing up influence the learning and maturation of young people in decisive ways, as the PISA-studies1) have shown once again. These circumstances inform the thesis that approximately 70% of all human learning occurs outside the settings of educational institutions (cf. DOHMEN, 2001). Informal learning is mainly related to habitual practices and is carried out in implicit ways. The concept "habitus" (BOURDIEU, 1987) signifies the ability to produce actions borne by non-intellectual action knowledge. A habitus includes all performative dispositions of apperception, decision-making and actions of individuals or groups. Habitus are mostly ingrained in a "mimetical" way and form a fund of implicit knowledge (GEBAUER & WULF, 1998). A habitus that is shared by several people can be traced to a corporate "conjunctive experience area" that is based upon instantaneous understanding and in which a certain knowledge fund is stored (MANNHEIM, 1986). According to constructionist learning theory that is based on neurophysiological research habitus determine the learning behavior of pupils in a decisive manner insofar as new experiences are proved automatically with respect to their "viability" (VON GLASERSFELD, 1995) in relation to the outcomes of former activities and already adopted action patterns. On this basis and in relation to their subjective meaning and extensive capacity they are executed (cf. VOSS, 2002, p.39). [1]

It has long been recognized instruction that is holistic, problem-based, action-oriented, implicit, and "informally" acquired, was required for successful adaptation to work and other environments of practice. The advancement and acknowledgment of informal and implicit learning processes that exist in life and work practices in significant ways is not at last regarded as a crucial step to overcome the social education gap and to take the edge off the new social question (cf. DOHMEN, 2001).2) These insights are taken up particularly in discussion of the concept of competence that plays a central role in the education debate. It has been shown that competent problem solutions and self-directed learning processes require primarily the ability of learners to estimate their own knowledge and capabilities in a realistic and at the same time affirmative way (cf. results of the SELF Research Centre Sydney; cf. MARSH, BAUMERT, RICHARDS & TRAUTWEIN, 2004). In the past several years in Germany, helping learners acquire realistic and positive self-concepts as well as the ability to be reflective learners has become a predominant training aim of schools of education and instruction. Reflective learning behavior refers to the ability of a learner to control her or his own learning processes (SIMONS, 1992). This learning attitude may be reflected in the proper use of learning strategies and successful completion of problems. Learning strategies are forms of acquiring realities that are made consciously, even if they are originally informally and implicitly learnt. They cover mainly elementary memorizing and heuristic forms of acquiring learning contents (HOFMANN, 2000) and the ability to transfer this knowledge. In addition, learning strategies are brought to light in the active selection and structuring of knowledge and learning situations (BAUMERT et al., 2000). [2]

Informal and implicit learning are in a state of continual growth and influence by the use and consumption of the so called "new media."3) In a society saturated with media, the sharing of social communication and actual cultural knowledge are becoming increasingly dependent upon experience and proficient use of information technologies. Process modes obtained by using technical media are also decisive for the development of manifold socially relevant habitus. Consequently, the development and evaluation of the self-concept is becoming increasingly linked to models taken from the many media learners are exposed to. Martin SEEL (1998) shows that the media may even shape the perceptions of our life world.4) SEEL writes "[the] Media, then could be said, [to] form domains of noticing, recognizing and acting in which we respond to the seized or intended reality" (SEEL, 1998, p.250, my translation). He comments further: "Media are constitutive for the action, which we carry out in them" (SEEL, 1998, p.246, my translation). SEEL holds a view of media that covers, in addition to the mass media, time, art, power, and money. In his thesis that out of the use of media elementary forms of action are emerge, SEEL stresses the possibility of reflecting on media modeled strategies of processing information. Thus it becomes conceivable that implicitly and informally acquired by media structured action patterns can be made conscious and be assigned as learning strategies. [3]

Lev MANOVICH (2001) points out that technical developments in the mass media do not aim any more for instant control of a subject. Rather, the adoption of now predominantly digital media which are directed and guided by an automatic play of meaning-free significants by which individuals' intentions are partly replaced and partly integrated into pre-shaped process modes. Subjects and objects become in such a way flexible and are able to span what is happening around them from multiple perspectives that allow them to transcend dichotomies such as activity and passivity, controlling and being-controlled. Under these signs it comes to a new synthesis as new cultural forms and corresponding practices that in the course of technical development are subject to constant metamorphoses. BAACKE (1999) describes new media as the central informal instance of the socialization and enculturation of adolescents. In his analysis of the changes of cultural practices by new media configurations in their effect on children and young people BAACKE points out that the actual reality and media driven reality are produced as interdigitated: Continuity breaks are positioned that cross actually lived-through time and rhythms of seeing and hearing which "contaminate" each other. A sense-making is developed and immediately questioned again. In various ways the "unexpected" mediated by media breaks in into the expected. In addition, complex visual allusions, various techniques of dissociation, of production, of identification and strategies of self-manifestation are demonstrated by ironical quotations and various offers of perfect life-styles which are particularly attractive to children and young people, in what can be called a "social laboratory." [4]

Regarded before the background of the argumentation of SEEL cultural skills imparted by new media as acquiring modes of reality include learning techniques. The acquisition of learning strategies via the mass media has not found its way into the catalogue of accepted learning techniques. Generally, such "learning" from media only occurs in subliminal ways. The effects of the new media on children's and young people's daydreams, desires, perceptions, and so forth, have yet to make onto conference agendas. Nevertheless, children's and young people's daydreams, desire, and perceptions do influence their formal learning. They supplement, infiltrate and latently affect how and what is learned. All that is not spoken by learners I call the "subtext" of instruction. [5]

The collected "subtexts" of instruction of a diverse group of learners shall be analyzed in view of their habitus. These "subtexts" of instruction reveal a characteristic style that is derived from the new media and can be attributed by way of further analysis to media modeled strategies of processing of information. From those again medial mediated learning strategies can be derived in an explorative way. [6]

2. Empirical Approach to Research

In this section the research instrument "auricle installation" ("Öhrchen-Installation") is to be presented. The "auricle installation" permits an informal and uncontrolled collection of "subtexts" of instruction at school. These "subtexts" are analyzed by using the "documentary method" (BOHNSACK, 2003). The goal is to work out the habitus that learners express. In a second exploratory analysis learners' strategies for processing information are traced to the media upon which they have been modeled. This procedure is described and demonstrated by an example. [7]

2.1 The research instrument of an "auricle installation"

With the intended purpose of a scientific investigation of learning processes usually the interview, the questionnaire and the diary, especially the so called learning diary (e.g. NÁDAS & NIETZSCHMANN, 2001) are assigned as collection instruments. Such and other usual methods of data gathering demand the ability for an individual to articulate personal thoughts and impressions often retrospectively. With the goal of investigating the strategies learners employ, strategies they are only partially aware they are using, it is incumbent upon the researcher to use a research design that can be embedded in the everyday lives of participants in order to capture the immediacy of the moment. The "auricle installation," developed by the author, allows learners to articulate their feelings directly, informally and uncontrolled during instruction at school.5) They can do this by an instrument they are familiar with to a large extent. [8]

The "auricle installation" works by means of an artifact. An artificial ear is molded and placed around an MP-3 player. This "ear" is approximately the size of a 6-year-old child's hand. Inside the auricle is a microphone, which can be switched on and off and into which the pupil can speak. These utterances are noted digitally. The devices are labeled with different symbols such as a red star, a green angle etc. Thus learners can recognize their personal "auricle" again and at the same time, because no names are used, the anonymity of utterances can be ensured. Pilot studies allowed us further refine the use of the "auricle installation." [9]

Preliminary investigations in the 3rd and in the 6th grade at schools in Argentina, Finland, Germany and Bulgaria have shown that the identification value of the "auricles" is generally very high and learners gladly make use of the equipment. The sincerity and the detail of their reports are remarkable.6) The "auricle sculpture" permits a temporary, socially recognized break in the valid rules and goals in the everyday life of the school and it serves as a regulator and container for everything its user privately enters into it. Thus legitimized learners can entrust to their "auricle" all that they usually cannot express openly in front of an adult in school. It is made possible for them to lead a kind of intrapersonal conversation with themselves and to bring up topics, which usually receive no or only little attention in the everyday life of school: such as physical conditions of the pupils, things of interest to them, preferred leisure activities, desires and dreams). Briefly, by means of the "auricle installation" the "subtexts" of instruction at school, which usually remain implicit and which affect learning latently can be expressed and made accessible for research purposes. The ability to individualize data acquisition by means of the "auricle installation" makes possible a methodologically led determination of individual modes for the processing of everyday life experiences. Social realities can be, according to the fundamental demand of qualitative empirical social research, seized from the "inside" (BLUMER, 1969) of a person's orientation. [10]

The "auricle sculpture" records in particular the magic thinking of children and adolescents 6 to 13 years of age.7) Because the sound recordings express the perspective of a filial actor (cf. HONIG, 1996), their employment is suitable in particular for research with young children and adolescents. As the preliminary investigations in Berlin, Neuquen/Argentina and Vaasa/Finland have shown children of 6 to 9 years old commit to the "auricle" relatively precipitous associations and action knowledge referring to concrete application situations. Among older children and young adolescents 11 to 13-years old, it is the adolescents who express already coherent habitus like "Couldn't be buggered"; and self-manifestations as "video gamer" or "best pupil." Various habitus are marked, tested in a playful way and sometimes those are also strongly oversubscribed. In view of the question it therefore appears productive to look at this age group in more depth. Some "subtexts" of the children at the threshold of adolescence in the context of the preliminary investigations show a strong influence of medium-specific modelings of reality. Thus with the addressing of the "auricles" certain associations were connected to "sound studio," "to on transmission," and "telephone," combined with appropriate habitus such as radio speaker, celebrity, a radio or television host, a guest star on radio or television. [11]

2.2 Design of the research

The school in which the research was carried out is located in a suburb of Stuttgart, Germany, and was chosen to ensure the comparability of data which were collected in other provincial capitals: Vaasa, Finland; Neuquen, Argentina. The investigator contacted the school to seek admittance for the purposes of this research. The school in Stuttgart is located in a residential area consisting of small single family houses. The classes of children and adolescents were selected by the director of the school and depended on the teachers' agreeing to participate in the research. [12]

The research took place between 16th and 19th of January 2006. The focus was on the 6th grade. There were 13 boys and 16 girls. However, only 10 boys were present in school during the research. For the girls, two "subtexts" were too quietly spoken to be analyzed. [13]

One "auricle sculpture" was given to each learner during instruction in the classroom that is to say during approx. 22 hours. The children were free to say whatever they wanted to their "auricle." Learners were assured that whatever they said to their "auricle" was private and would only be used for research and artistic purposes and not shared with school authorities. Teachers and parents were likewise informed of the private nature of learners' utterances. Artists, they were told, will create works of art on the basis of the sound recordings. The works of art will then be demonstrated to the pupils in the context of an instruction project with the goal to commentate them with own works using artistic means (see KRAUS, 2006). They were informed that the results of the whole project will be finally published issued in a form not yet fixed. [14]

3. Analysis

In comparing each learner's "subtexts" it became clear early on that some "subtexts" were to a great extent withdrawn from school reality.8) This demonstrates just how important a role media play in the development of these "subtexts." Some "subtexts" are even almost exclusively conditioned by symbol systems which refer to media influences (this is the case with three of the "subtexts," out of 29 total. Significant gender differences were found as well. [15]

The "documentary method" developed by Ralf BOHNSACK (2003) was used to analyze the data (i.e. "subtexts" gathered using the "auricle installation"). This method is suitable for an analysis of the reference connections of "subtexts," particularly in relation to implicit learning and orientation models of pupils, because it makes possible a methodical reconstruction of implicit orientation yardsticks. Furthermore this method delineates a systematic differentiation of various interpretation levels and a formation of comparable groups that is not possible to adopt in our case studies. [16]

The "documentary method" according to GARFINKEL (1967) assumes, that knowledge is expressed in an indexical way; denoting that linguistic expressions are indicators for meanings that are meaningful only in the context of a common cultural background. Learners' expressions are methodically evaluated as follows: On the basis the "subtexts" first, the habitus illustrated by adolescents are worked out. In these habitus, of particular interest are the subjective experiences that are to a great extent withdrawn from the reality of school and appear to be modeled by media. In an individual case analysis medium-specific processing samples of reality or strategies of the processing of information modeled by media are to be concisely worked out. From these results learning strategies are to be derived. [17]

As a first step, a formulating interpretation (BOHNSACK, 2003) is conducted. The formulating interpretation should remain within the orientation framework of the examined individual case. In order to provide an overview over the thematic course of the saying, the text is subdivided into major and minor topics (subtopics). The reflecting interpretation is meant to be a "[…] reconstruction and explication of the frame in which the topic is discussed, in the way as i.e. with reference to which orientation sample, to which orientation framework the topic is treated" (BOHNSACK, 2003, p.135, my translation). Thus, on one hand, orientation figures that outline themselves before so-called "anti-horizons" ("Gegenhorizonte"), i.e. rejected or devalued circumstances, play a special role. On the other hand, the discourse organization and its dramaturgy are to be described. Both flow into a total characterization of the case. With medium-theoretical considerations as background, the revealed modes of information processing modeled by media will be elaborated. [18]

In the following section the methodological procedure will be illustrated on the basis of a reconstructed analysis of a "subtext." [19]

3.1 Example of the reconstructive analysis of a "subtext" influenced by learning strategies modeled by media

The learner "violet star" used the "auricle sculpture" as a kind of a rapper, who speaks his hardly melodic lyrics into a microphone. In the following it will be demonstrated on the basis of the reconstructive analysis of the "subtext" that "violet star," despite (or because of) his fictions mediated by media, disposes of learning strategies, that could, with an appropriate consideration in instruction, support school learning. [20]

At first sight or hearing, one can detect a proclivity to have fun, which is expressed by frequent laughter as well as by a nearly ecstatic presentation of the topic, rap. This contrasts emotionally with quotations of very aggressive song texts. "Violet star" does not readily reveal personal matters. The number of recordings created by "Violet star" amounts to 33, well over the class average of 18.2 recordings.9)

"Subtext" violet star (♂)10)

01-05 of 33 recordings

01: Jojojojo gogogogo yealo yeah here is Fler Neue Deutsche Welle for my Homey DJ Tomekk Aggro Berlin ffff b e e e e e yeah Bushido Sido SAK Aggro Berlin Zeit yeah we are here you all will be destroyed yeah Aggro Berlin Zeit Zeit.

02: Yeah here is Sido your favorite rapper in a Downstairsshop in Berlin. Here everything is shit somehow we shortly watch a film it is called "The suburb crocodiles" but as a start Gangsta-rap Bushido B-Tight Aggro Berlin Zeit yeah.

03: Yeah here is Bushido the seventeen-year-old rapper äh @(2)@ twentyseven-year-old rapper before court in Linz ma with such a way one shit (2) knock off Alta ey man here singin' German is shit. [Another pupil speaks at "violet star" and "violet star" pauses (3), but he does not deal however with the classmate.] I think/believe we shortly watch a film it is called "The suburb crocodiles" man. Yo we will shortly Aggro Berlin Zeit Mann Alta.

04: (Singing) Yeah here is the mi ma multicolored bee. That does not please the German lesson at all @(2)@.

05: Yeah here is gäng gäng butscho rappss. gäng gäng butscho rappss. [Another child: "Iih."] @(1)@ Whaaat? Yeah man art instruction fully shits but I think/believe we shortly (.) watch a film. Aggro Berlin Zeit Zeit we thank our fans for one hundred thousand sold records @(.)@. [21]

3.1.1 Text interpretation Formulating interpretation

The first major topic is Rap music that dominates explicitly the second theme: school. The topic Rap can be subdivided in the subtopics: (1) "here is Fler," (2) "here is Sido," (3) "here is Bushido," (4) "here is the mi ma multicolored bee," (5) "here is gäng gäng butscho rappss" and (6) "we thank our fans for the …" Each of them I read as a clue to relevant reference figures. By the announcement that "violet star's" class will shortly be watching the film The Suburb Crocodiles the topic school becomes obviously a second orientation frame for "violet star": the devaluation of school ("Yeah man art instruction fully shits") is a second subtopic. [22]


For the reader not familiar with Rap the text may appear to be nothing but a mélange of unrelated words; like an incomprehensible code. In this case very specific contextual knowledge, coming from youth culture and the Internet, is required to decode the code.11) [23]

G. uses his knowledge of Rap in freely associative and fragmentary ways. He concentrates mainly on the music label Aggro Berlin. Rap music developed in New York City at the end of the 1970s by disadvantaged African American and Ibero-American youth. Since the 1980s Rap has established itself and is quite popular in the in the US as well as in Germany. "To rap" signifies a music style in which only one disk jockey, DJ, or more rarely a DJane,12) replaces a live band. On different turn tables he or she "mixes" music of different styles with one another; he or she "scratches" the records and combines it with unique rhythmic talk. The harmonies are centered in a modal way around a basic root. The language is strongly codified. Frequent rhymes or repetitions of sounds at the end of a song line are striking. In combination with dancing and graffiti, Rap permits a youth-cultural identity formation on several levels. Competition forms the center of this youth culture. Rap speech is characterized by "dissing" (derived from "disrespecting") as a polemic contest—e.g. an "mc-battle" in which two DJ compete with one another (cf. ROSE, 1997) [24]

Stories are told that describe a life of financial wealth, gold chains. leather jackets, prostitutes, weapons, parties and casinos. They center on wealth, physical superiority and sex. Violence plays an important role, not at least as a marketing strategy. The popularization of Rap is promoted by the strong and insistent rhythm of the music, by extractable idioms in the texts and by the sexily hedonistic behavior of the musicians (HINZ, 1998). [25]

Aggro Berlin is a successful (Independent) music label for German Rap that owns a HipHop shop with the name Downstairs in Berlin/Schöneberg. "Aggro BerlIN Zeit" is the Internet-forum of Aggro Berlin. Aggressive (woman- and gay-hostile as well as glorifying violence) texts are associated with the label. Some titles on this label were recommended for indexing to the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons. Artists on this label, among others Fler, Sido, and earlier Bushido, play with the clichés of the "gangsta-rap" (a representative is "50 Cent," that describes disaffected and in some cases glorifying the involvement of some rappers in criminal behavior. The majority of the DJs mentioned grew up in Berlin. The likewise very successful album Neue Deutsche Welle of Fler that was released in 2005 by Aggro Berlin (subtopic 1) came under criticism for use of controversial national symbols (e.g. an intimated realm eagle, a modified Hitler quotation) by which it was brought into the marketplace. DJ Tomekk, a popular German HipHop DJ, sings about a "homey" ("good friend"). Sido's (subtopic 2) debut album Mask was released in 2004, and within a few months sold 100,000 copies. Bushido (subtopic 3) envisions in his texts urban fall scenarios and acts vulgarly in an emphatic way way. Bushido was accused in August 2005 of critically flogging a 20-year old from Linz, for which he spent 15 days in jail. "Your favorite rappers" ("Deine Lieblingsrapper") is the name of a concert, which went on tour in Germany in the year 2006. "Yeah, we are here, you all will be destroyed" ("yeah wir sind da ihr werdet alle vernichtet") is a quotation of a song text of the DJ Tony D/Aggro Berlin. SAK is a group of Graffiti sprayers from Munich. The connection of "gäng gäng butscho rapps" (Subtopic 5) could not been explained, it is probably a part of a rap-text. [26]

The "Suburb Crocodiles" ("Die Vorstadtkrokodile")

G. repeats at the same time and using the same wording three times that he "believes" ("glaubt") that the class will "shortly" watch the film The Suburb Crocodiles. This film is based upon a book by Max VON DER GRÜN; it was directed by Wolfgang BECKER in 1977 and since that time has become a class film. The film depicts numerous social problems, in particular ostracism of the handicapped. The viewer sees these problems and ostracism through the eyes of a 10 to 13 year olds who have formed a gang. They are in the six-form plan in a high school in Baden-Württemberg. The remark that the class will watch the film is the only reference to instructional content in "violet star's" "subtext" (recordings 01-33). [27]

Devaluation of the school

G. rates everything around as "shit." Then he devaluates the subjects of instruction of German and Arts. A devaluation of instruction at school he states in four further recordings. [28] "Reflecting interpretation"

On the basis of the "formulating interpretation" and the attempt to reconstruct the context knowledge necessary for an understanding of "violet star's" text, a second analysis investigated in what respect a sense of content was expressed as "sense of document" (BOHNSACK, 1993) in a formative, perfomative and stylistic way. A working out of orientation figures before their "anti-horizons ("Gegenhorizonte") and an investigation of the discourse organization results in a habitus characteristic of "violet star" (cf. BOHNSACK, 2003, pp.62ff.). "Violet star's" "reflecting orientation" is marked in italics. [29]

G. begins the first three recordings in each case with a verbal adjustment of a gig or the habitus of a DJ with a kind of rhythmic preparation and an introduction. Subtopics: "Yeah here is Fler [..], Sido [..], Bushido […]"). "Violet star" uses his "auricle-sculpture" like a microphone as he imitates other rappers, using their fast talk and story-telling style. He also quotes song texts of rappers. In terms of content and performance this stands as a harsh contradiction to the school reality he actually experiences ("Yeah, we are here you all will be destroyed") that is opened as an anti-horizon ("Gegenhorizont") in relation to Rap. Nevertheless "violet star" seems to accommodate slightly to school reality with each recording; however he always remains in the guise of the rapper habitus. In recording 03 he devaluates German Rap. This is surprising considering his preference for the label Aggro Berlin. The devaluation however remains in the context of his preferential music direction, that defines itself by "dissing"; devaluating, e.g. a sheltered life. The fact that "violet star" does not react to another child, who addresses him several times and to whom he obviously listens, stresses the hermetic of his identifications. Even in the threefold repetition that he thinks that the class will soon watch the film The Suburb Crocodiles he is rapping his references to the actual context. Here is expressed either a distance to the actual events at school (in its statement "I think we shortly watch …"; an unmistakable ironical sneer can be heard in his voice) or precarious procedural knowledge in view to these events is expressed. Based on the intonation of recording 03 one can suggest a trace of easing regarding the expected school event. The "belief/thought " of "violet star" contrasts with the decisiveness, with which he always returns to his topic Rap ("… but as a start Gangsta-rap, Yo we will shortly Aggro Berlin Zeit"). As "violet star" in recording 04 melodiously and with an emphasized childlike voice utters "the mi ma multicolored bee," he seems to kid the named rappers whose habitus arises mainly from male posturing to be seen as potent. With it "violet star" places an individual accent. He earns a certain humorous distance between his school-dislike that he expressed many times. In recording 05 he relates again to the circle of his identification with rap-stars by praising their material success. The prosody suggests an imitation of advertising. With brief laughter he completes the appearance of a producer presumably mimed by him. Recording 06 serves as an advertisement for the Internet forum of Aggro Berlin. By this G. focuses on fans. Letting the advertising slowly fade away he comes to a zero-point. With this mise en scene he marks the "subtext" of the Rap of Aggro Berlin in relation to the sex appeal of its music to the public. The climax ends in a devaluation of homosexuality. Suddenly "violet star" demands an end to this interpretation by prohibiting an image of an individual's face (the mouth) presented in a vulgar way. By re-enacting the habitus of DJs, then the performance of producers, and finally that of the public and then by breaking his staging humorously ("mi ma multicolored bee"), he withdraws completely from the different mimed appearances. In comparison to the coherent, hermetic "conjunctive experience area" of the Rap staged here the "conjunctive experience area" school seems poor. The fact that a film should be shown remains subjunctive. Even if frequently addressed by a classmate, "violet star" engages with another classmate in dialogue only two times. Twice he leads a staged interview with a classmate (recordings 11 and 20). The answers of the interviewed person are in respect to their code, prosody, speed and concerning the pauses analogous to those of "violet star" suggesting collective centers of experience and orientation patterns (BOHNSACK, 2003). "Violet star" responds only to one single impulse from outside, and that is the demand of a teacher to put the "auricle" aside. He regrets it, but obeys without resistance (recording 28). Sporadically (recordings 12, 13 and 16) "violet star" expresses pleasure in instruction. [30]

G. uses the "auricle" mostly to express the "conjunctive experience-area" of the Rap that is obviously very significant for him, and at the same time exclusively as possible and to clarify his diverse orientation patterns and figures. On the basis of his confrontation with this extracurricular experience the following habitus modeled by media can be worked out. [31] Varieties of learning strategies (knowledge acquisition) modeled in G's "subtext"

In general, "violet star" in his pronouncements gives the auditor the role of a collaborator in a media production. "Violet star" conceals his personality in his utterances and withdraws behind the habitus that he mimics. In his "subtext" he abstains in parts completely from any reflective use of language as to say considering or reflecting oneself. The relationship of representation consists in the sense of an "universalistic performativity" (KRÄMER, 2004), no longer between language and world but between a universal rule-structure and the individual statement that follows these rules and codes. "Violet star's" prosody and utterances are to be interpreted in the sense that gestures alone that refer to habitus cannot be verbalized. Of the cultural practices that "violet star" has at his disposal, it is apparently not the logic of symbolic forms but the "somatizing function of the media" that is decisive. This "somatizing function of the media" exists according to KRÄMER (2004) in a creative metamorphosis of the perceived world that is brought about in a change-relationship of protagonist and observers. The habitus verbally demonstrated by "violet star" lead back on the basic principle of a so-called "corporalizing performativity" (KRÄMER, 2004). The physicalness is no more a sense-empty bandage-limb between realization-subject and reality, neither is it only the ground for an immaterial sense lying behind it. The corporality and materiality of a certain embodiment rather gets a net weight, which crosses even the symbolism and the expression-qualities of that which is verbalized. [32]

Following the strategies of information processing modeled on the media (in italics) one can discern that the habitus serves as an implicit fund of knowledge. [33]

By staging different habitus "violet star" illustrates his ability to take on the perspectives of different people. He also demonstrates his willingness to engage in implicit learning contents in a performative way. By demonstrating an interaction between different action centers arranged verbally, but delivered primarily physically, his readiness and his ambitions are indicated to make use of different forms of self expression that interfere and correspond with each other, as well as contradict each other. [34]

4. Discussion and Outlook

The "documentary method" originally developed for conversation analysis was used in this study to analyze monologues that were addressed to unknown conversation partners, specifically artists and scientists. The "auricle-installation" offers on one hand the advantage that participants can give their associations free reign. On the other hand the valid relevance systems that can be traced back to "conjunctive experience areas" and the displayed rules of communication are developed in the conversation between its participants. A relevance system must be designed by the participant himself or herself in a "vacuum" and virtually. This fact can distort the collected data firstly in so far as a conclusive and fluent soliloquy presupposes that the thematized experience area is extremely definite. Secondly, such homogeneity should be produced in the monologue. Finally, the ability of speakers to refer to their own reference-systems is required. The exploration of other aspects of "subtexts," such overlaying, interfering (complex reference systems as well as diffused ones) was well beyond the scope of the current study. [35]

Users of the "auricle-sculpture" who are able and ready to refer to their own and distinctive relevance-systems are able to bring us closer to answers to our research questions. The ability to refer to one's own and distinctive relevance-systems is the prerequisite and at the same time the consequence of a "positive self-concept." Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the "positive self-concept" and the reflected educational behavior stimulate themselves reciprocally (cf. results of the SELF Research Centre Sydney, MARSH et al., 2004). This corresponds to the fact that in specialized texts educational-competences ("Lernkompetenz") are combined with the ability to learn in a self-motivated and self-controlled way. It is assumed that strategies of learning can be trained only under conditions of self esteem. [36]

Using case analyses of learning situations, drawing on the "documentary method" may give the opportunity to more deeply explore how using "subtexts" illustrate individuals' development and use of media-modeled learning strategies. From there, so we have pointed out, such modes of knowledge-acquisition can be defined in an explorative manner that can be led back on school-distant, especially on over mass media spread processing-modes of reality (this is Rap in the respondent's case). The fact that the learning strategies modeled by media are informally appropriated suggests that it is about self-motivated and self-controlled learning modes; i.e., virtually placed educational-competences. [37]

Prospective research from a developmental perspective will explore individuals' abilities and the procedural knowledge to better understand practical instructional consequence. Underlying this is the idea that learners' self-concepts can be promoted and supported by making their implicit learning competencies explicit. In addition, it is conceivable that an instruction-model could be fashioned to reflect learner's competence. Additional research should focus on the educational-competence profiles of learners who used the "auricle installation" to express their quite different frames of orientation. [38]


My cordial thanks go to all the learners who participated in this study and to the teachers for their patience and tolerance. Thanks to Robert FAUX for his help with the translation of this text.


1) The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial world-wide test of 15-year-old schoolchildren's scholastic performance, the implementation is coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). PISA was first mooted in 1997. The aim of the PISA study is to test and compare schoolchildren's performance across the world, with a view to improving and standardizing educational methods. For many countries, the first PISA results were a rude awakening; in Germany, for example, the comparatively low scores brought on a heated debate about how the school system should be changed (see: http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,2987,en_32252351_32235731_1_1_1_1_1,00.html, retrieved 17.4.2007). <back>

2) In before-linguistic, before-predicative activities the principles of learning are established; e.g. learning by doing, the learning through practice, the mimetic acquisition of reality, etc. These modes of learning processes can be brought to consciousness and serve as educational-forms. <back>

3) The connection between the media and the learning and development of professional competences is increasingly recognized. Cf. e.g. Margrit SCHREIER (2004) who discusses this in relation to reading competence. <back>

4) Stefan BLANK (2004) shows critically that SEEL by defending the primacy of language and strengthening the subject-position, he does not adequately develop the potential of his theses. This criticism cannot be followed here. <back>

5) The rise-instrument resembles the "audio-diary" developed by Helga HAUDECK (2001). HAUDECK calls a sound-bearer "audio-diary" on which students can record orally expressed thoughts in an instruction-accompanied manner. The "auricle" offers in contrast to these sound-bearers the advantage that children can identify themselves more easily with it as with a mere sound-bearer. <back>

6) The data collection in Argentina, Finland, Germany and Bulgaria is not yet completed; further publications are in preparation. <back>

7) We refer to the long-time-studies of Inge STRAUCH in which the changes in the dream lives of children and adolescents are investigated in the context of their dependence on the cognitive and emotional development of adolescents in general and are placed in relationship to the daydreams of the examined ones (cf. Inge STRAUCH & Barbara MEIER, 2004). <back>

8) The instructional and practical challenges to bridge the strong differences between the predominant experience-areas of the learners on the one hand and the communicative sense-level of the institution on the other hand will be considered even more extensively in future research. <back>

9) The transcription was executed following the guidelines developed by BOHNSACK (2003, p.235). A short legend of the used signs:

⌊ Begin of an overlap as well as a speaker-change

⌋ End of an overlap

(2) Number of the seconds, that a pause lasts, here 2

@(.)@ short laughter

@(2)@ 2 sec. laughter

The italics and the insertion of students' text shall express the tension between the usage of language of the learner and that of the researcher. <back>

10) "Subtext" violet star (♂)

01 Jojojojo gogogogo yealo yeah hier is Fler Neue Deutsche Welle für mein Homey DJ Tomekk Aggro Berlin ffff b e e e e e yeah Bushido Sido SAK Aggro Berlin Zeit yeah wir sind da ihr werdet alle vernichtet yeah Aggro Berlin Zeit Zeit.

02 Yeah hier ist Sido deine Lieblingsrapper im Downstairsladen in Berlin. Hier alles Scheiße irgendwie wir gucken glaub ich gleich n Film an der heißt Vorstadtkrokodile aber erstmal Gangsta-rap Bushido B-Tight Aggro Berlin Zeit yeah.

03 Yeah hier is Bushido der siebzehnjährige Rapper äh @(2)@ siebenundzwanzigjährige Rapper vor Gericht in Linz ma mit som Scheiss (2) steck Alta ey man hier deutsch singn is Scheiße. ein anderes Kind spricht Lila Stern an und wiederholt den letzten Satz, Lila Stern hält inne (3), geht aber nicht auf das Kind einIch glaub wir guckn gleich n Film an der heisst Vorschstadtkrokodile Mann. Yo wir werden jetzt Aggro Berlin Zeit Mann Alta.

04 Singt Yeah hier is die bi ba bunte Biene. Der gefällt Deutsch überhaupt nicht @(2)@.

05 Yeah hier is gäng gäng butscho rappss. gäng gäng butscho rappss. anderes Kind: "Iih"@(1)@ Waaas? Yeah Mann BK is voll Scheiße aber ich glaub jetz (.) guckn wir n Film an. Aggro Berlin Zeit Zeit wir danken unseren Fans für einhunderttausend verkaufte Schallplatten @(.)@. <back>

11) See HINZ (1998) and ROSE (1997) as well as http://www.aggroberlin.de/, http://www.elixic.de/index.php?id=707 and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggro_Berlin. <back>

12) The rapper-culture is clearly male dominated. <back>


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Anja KRAUS, assistant professor for educational science at Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg. Her work focuses on school development research. She studied educational science and philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin and art education at the Universität der Künste Berlin. For more information about her current research-project see http://www.body-bytes.de/tma/subtext/.


Dr. Anja Kraus

Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg
Reuteallee 46
71634 Ludwigsburg, Germany

Tel.: 07141/140-745
Fax: 06141/140-695

E-Mail: kraus@ph-ludwigsburg.de
URL: http://www.ph-ludwigsburg.de/5423.html http://www.ph-ludwigsburg.de/5423.html#c14226


Kraus, Anja (2007). A Study of Media Influences on the Learning Strategies of Students in the First Years of Secondary School by Means of "Subtexts" [38 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(3), Art. 11, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0703117.

Copyright (c) 2007 Anja Kraus

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