Volume 7, No. 2, Art. 38 – March 2006

Who Gets to Ask the Questions: The Ethics in/of Cogenerative Dialogue Praxis

Ian Stith & Wolff-Michael Roth

Abstract: We present cogenerative dialogue as an authentic research tool which, when conducted properly, can address some of the ethical issues inherent in classroom research. To begin with, there is the question of the participation of the researcher in the cogenerative dialogue. Next, we present cogenerative dialogue as an ideal tool to instigate interaction and participation among the participants in classroom research: students, teachers, and researcher. And finally we present cogenerative dialogue as tool to facilitate the discussion of the ethical issues that are part of the research setting (e.g., class).

Key words: cogenerative dialogue, ethics, participant research, student voice, authenticity

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Ethics, responsibility of action

1.2 Solidarity, collective responsibility

2. What is a Cogenerative Dialogue?

2.1 Cogenerative dialogue: What it looks like

2.2 Cogenerative dialogue as an activity system

2.3 Praxeology of teaching

2.4 Respect and whole class discussion

3. Ethical considerations

3.1 Researchers as participants

3.2 Responsibility to include participants

3.3 Collective responsibility

3.4 Unknown outcomes for students and teachers

3.5 Unknown outcomes for researcher

3.6 Can experiences apply to different activity systems?

4. Discussion

4.1 Facilitating cogenerative dialogues

4.2 Authentic access to student interaction

4.3 Explicit discussion of ethics in classroom

5. Coda






1. Introduction

The theory and praxis of cogenerative dialogue as research and praxis-improvement activity has been presented in the pages of this journal repeatedly (e.g., ROTH, LAWLESS, & TOBIN, 2000; ROTH & TOBIN, 2004). Cogenerative dialogues arose as the dialectical partner of coteaching in the studies Wolff-Michael ROTH and Ken TOBIN conducted among new teachers in urban schools in the United States. The first author of this paper learned the praxis of cogenerative dialoguing as part of his teacher training, which implemented the coteaching model under Ken TOBIN's supervision. The cogenerative dialogue gradually transformed into a necessary dialectic pair with coteaching allowing for a meeting of theory and practice (ROTH, TOBIN, & ZIMMERMANN, 2002). As addressed below, cogenerative dialogues develop new understanding of praxis (i.e., praxeology), which reflexively mediates the praxis of the participants. In other words there is a locally formed definition of teaching and learning (praxeology) that further influences the ongoing everyday activity of the participants, the praxis. As a meeting of teachers, students, researchers, and administrators the cogenerative dialogue brings together all stakeholders in some system for the purpose of collaborating, but how does this collaboration actually play out? What ethical obligations does the researcher have with respect to the students and the teachers involved? What ethical concerns does the cogenerative dialogue minimize in terms of educational research? What ethical obligations exist as part of the class system that can be addressed by the cogenerative dialogue? What ethical dilemmas does the cogenerative dialogue itself present for the participants? [1]

To couch our discussion of the ethical issues arising from cogenerative dialoguing in teaching and research praxis, we discuss a general framework for understanding human activity systems. We then integrate ethics into this general framework based on the function of action to mediate between embodied knowing in action and sociocultural and cultural historical systems of meaning. We complete this introduction with a discussion of responsibility and how it can be theorized in a dialectical theory of action. Intertwined throughout this analysis we will use Ian STITH's first-hand experience as a teacher conducting cogenerative dialogues, which will appear as block text. [2]

1.1 Ethics, responsibility of action

The cogenerative dialogue relies on the interactions of individuals to achieve a sense of collective responsibility. In this study we will rely on the basic unit of interaction as the speech act (AUSTIN, 1962) and the ethical considerations it implies. As will be explained later the cogenerative dialogue is a discussion between the individuals that collectively form a class. If we view these discussions as a series of speech acts we see the inherent responsibility the completion of the act requires. Each speech act is made up of three parts: the utterance, the intent, and the completion of the speech act by the recipient. The person initiating the speech act assumes a response from the other that will lead to successful completion of the act and thus both are responsible for its completion (BAKHTIN, 1993). This is in line with the responsibility that we all have as "beings" in a world full of other "beings", or our responsibility to the "other" (LEVINAS, 1998). Our own being in the world already includes other beings in the world—self and other, subjectivity and intersubjectivity, self and world all emerge at the same moment: being inherently is being singular plural (NANCY, 2000). We cannot relate to others without our own sense of being, which in turn is dependent on others, thus constituting the dialectics of self and the other—oneself always also is another to another self (RICŒUR, 1992). The concept of otherness is vital to the success of the cogenerative dialogue; it implies an understanding of the similarities between the student and the teacher, for example, while still aware that the two are different people. This kind of understanding evolves over time with mediation by the people in a person's life. For example, if a high school student experiences an exchange of ideas between another student and teacher, this will mediate his own understanding of himself. [3]

1.2 Solidarity, collective responsibility

It is common for teachers to expect every student in the class to participate in a given lesson in a consistent manner. In other words many teachers want uniformity in terms of goals and actions to achieve those goals. Besides being impossible given the diversity of individuals in some class—in fact, impossible because each individual is a singular plural and because of the differences embodied in the repetition of singulars (DELEUZE, 1968/1994)—the traditional practices for attaining uniformity are not authentic (GUBA & LINCOLN, 1989). They are not authentic because there is a lack of educative and ontological learning taking place. Every student in a class may complete an assignment, but this does not imply a commitment to a goal designated by the teacher, the question here is really one of solidarity (RORTY, 1989). Solidarity can be thought

"as the ability to see more and more traditional differences (of tribe, religion, race, customs, and the like) as unimportant when compared with similarities with respect to pain and humiliation—the ability to think of people wildly different from ourselves as included in the range of ‘us'" (RORTY, 1989, p.192). [4]

Solidarity is not something that can be quantified but is rather evident from the behavioral change of the participants, how do they identify the range of "‘us'." Because of the irremediable and irreducible self|other dialectic, solidarity in fact is the acknowledgment and positive assertion of responsibility each person has for the other, and all others have toward the person.

Ian: As a teacher I truly wanted to feel like the whole class was working together towards a goal and that I could somehow control that. When I look back at that now I realize how unreasonable that expectation really was. I was trying to make students become friends just by seating them near each other or putting them in the same group, when this was really artificial. What I needed to do was look past the differences in the class and concentrate on the similarities. But of course I assumed I, as the teacher, would need to facilitate a change in the student's own concept of who was part of their group.

Michael: One of the difficulties you face is the collective transition toward recognizing, asserting, and practicing collective responsibility, which is not an easy feat given that we all are enculturated—even brainwashed—into an ideology of individualism. To evolve different praxis, you all need to recognize collective responsibility as a condition of human life that precedes and therefore lies beyond all essence. [5]

We present the cogenerative dialogue as a praxis that addresses the differences of and focuses attention on the similarities among its participants in an effort to promote solidarity. "Feelings of solidarity are necessarily a matter of which similarities and dissimilarities strike us as salient, and that such salience is a function of a historically contingent final vocabulary" (RORTY, 1989, p.192). It is true that, depending on the community, there could be an inherently strong sense of solidarity in the classroom, but how can the teacher identify this? As will become evident, cogenerative dialogue is a praxis specifically designed for promoting a sense of communal responsibility. [6]

2. What is a Cogenerative Dialogue?

To address these ethical concerns we begin with introduction to what a cogenerative dialogue would look like in practice and how it arose out of Wolff-Michael ROTH and Kenneth TOBIN's work. [7]

2.1 Cogenerative dialogue: What it looks like

A cogenerative dialogue is an activity system made up of coteachers, teachers, advisors, students, researchers, and others who together discuss teaching and learning in the classroom—frequently after having all been participants in teaching and learning. The intended outcome of the system is a feasible action plan to transform the teaching and learning in that particular field (ROTH, LAWLESS & TOBIN, 2000; TOBIN, ZURBANO, FORD, & CARAMBO, 2003). Teachers generate continual transformation of teaching and learning normally (BALL & COHEN, 1999) but the cogenerative dialogue brings this process to the forefront with the stated intention of improvement because it provides speaking opportunities to participants in educational processes that heretofore have had no voice. [8]

In school settings, cogenerative dialogue often takes place at the end of the school day or at lunch and involves teachers, researchers, students, and anyone else with interest or need to make sense of the relevant situation. The number of participating students depends on multiple factors: the teachers' comfort level with the dialogue, the number of students in the class, the stage of development of the cogenerative dialogue, and the researchers' role in the class, etc. All participants sit in a circle at the same physical level if possible. It is important for the teacher to change their proximal relation to the students to demonstrate their own commitment to removing spatial configurations that tend to reproduce power (e.g., teacher sitting behind his desk, meeting in the principal's office). A teacher or researcher hovering over the students or videotaping from afar implies a distance and voyeurism that is counterproductive given the intention of the dialogue to make sense collectively and democratically, with equal importance given to each voice. [9]

At first it may or may not be difficult to surrender the roles the participants fill during regular lessons, and so the importance of the cogenerative dialogue occurring outside and removed from the normal class is apparent in regard to these issues. Normally, a researcher or teacher introduces the idea of cogenerative dialogue to students and what expectations might be, at least in–the early–first phase. It is vital, however, to include everyone's voice equally in the discussion especially in the early stages of developing this research and teaching praxis, but this can be difficult to achieve at first. ROTH and TOBIN (2002) created a heuristic to help mediate this process as a checklist of rules for the cogenerative dialogue.

Ian: When I first began using cogenerative dialogues I saw it as a great opportunity to get to know the students better and simply be able to relate to them. As I continued to use them, I made them a regular part of my teaching. I began to see many advantages I had previously missed. It was hard for me to really see the long-term effects the dialogues might have on my class, the students, and me as a person. One thing in particular that became important to my praxis is the format of the cogenerative dialogue. In order to separate the dialogue from the regular classroom environment I felt the need for a formalized format that the participants design and follow. For example, I felt that the reading or reciting of the rules or heuristic at the beginning of the dialogue reminds the students and teacher of their obligations and expectations for their actions. It was not always easy to do this of course, but to break down the barriers between participants it is vital.

Michael: I know you use a structure|agency framework to theorize what you do. Here, I understand your needs to impose some structure as a way to bring about conditions that can cogenerative dialogue emerge in a context where most of the future participants have not yet developed the habits and habitus for such praxis. But this does not mean everyone starting cogenerative dialogue will have to do it your way; your way is but one possible, and the one you feel most comfortable with. [10]

A key component in the implementation of the cogenerative dialogue is the commitment to long terms goals. For the subtle and authentic outcomes to come to fruition, recurrent dialogues over the long-term teaching experience is required. As stated previously there may be rules and expectations associated with the cogenerative dialogue that may have to be reinforced over the course of the study. It cannot be expected that the teacher will feel comfortable immediately "giving up control" of his or her class for the sake of a conversation. It is a way of transitioning from a situation in which students have no voice into one where they do have a voice all the while allowing the teacher to be able to assume his or her institutional responsibility to orderly classrooms. In order to break down the perceived and enacted power differential over time, students need to experience the cogenerative dialogue and then observe positive outcomes repeatedly. A teacher or researcher can say he or she wants honest feedback but if the students do not see any evidence that their criticism is being taken seriously, the cycle is broken. If the teacher can allow his or her own praxis to change overtly as a result of the cogenerative dialogue this will provide evidence for the students. A commitment to change is necessary for all participants and without this the cogenerative dialogue will be reduced to simply a complaint session. [11]

2.2 Cogenerative dialogue as an activity system

In line with the work of BAKHTIN, LEVINAS, and RICŒUR we concentrate our discussion of the cogenerative dialogue on what philosophers term act (completed end result of some doing) or action (process of doing). Using cultural-historical activity theory (ENGESTRÖM, 1993; LEONT'EV, 1978, 1981) as a theoretical framework allows us to focus on the act of the subjects towards the object while incorporating how an action is mediated by the context (Figure 1). In our particular case we theorize cogenerative dialogue itself as an activity. The subjects of this activity are the participants including students, teachers, researchers, supervisors, etc., who exist in the system dialectically related to the intended object. In this case the intended outcome may be an actionable plan for the classroom to which all the participants have agreed and according to which they all will act following the cogenerative dialogue meeting. Of course this object may not be guaranteed or even recognizable until the activity is completed such that the actual outcome of the activity (not shown) is unknown (ARDENGHI, ROTH, & POZZER-ARDENGHI, 2005). Within the activity of the cogenerative dialogue there are layers of processes working simultaneously.

Figure 1: Representation of the cogenerative dialogue as an activity system [12]

The cogenerative dialogue by nature is a social process dependent on the cooperation of the participants who themselves engage in particular activities to meet this end. For example, the motive of the activity is to formulate an actionable plan but to concretize this motive in a real result a teacher needs to explain the rules of the cogenerative dialogue to the students. Successful comprehension of the rules of the cogenerative dialogue is itself an outcome of a specific activity the teacher and students engage in. Continuing with this example we can focus on the individual act within the activity. Traditionally the individual act would be separated from the activity by its singular nature and different intent, but in the case of social interaction this distinction cannot be simplified to this extent. In the example of explaining the rules of the cogenerative dialogue to the students there are countless performances by the teacher in the form of utterances, but do these utterances qualify as individual acts? If we reduce our example to an even more specific case of the teacher articulating a rule to be heard and followed by the students, we could make a claim that this is in itself an act, but what are its ethical implications? Here we analyze the ethics of the cogenerative dialogue and in so doing we appreciate the truly social nature of all interactions that take place as part of the activity. The question then becomes, is it logical to analyze acts of an individual whose acts are directly dependent on others? In order for an utterance to be a motivated act the other must allow it and therefore is as responsible for the outcome as the speaker (BAKHTIN, 1993). [13]

Activity theory provides us with a framework for understanding the relation among activity-actions-operations and how meaning is actually generated. Operations are unconsciously performed as part of a given situation or condition and presuppose the action. The action is consciously performed with intent towards some goal that forms the appropriate operation. The action presupposes the activity, which is motivated by the object and gives sense to the actions. The activity is related to the actions by sense, in the case of explaining the rules the action of speaking is given sense by its relation to the activity (explaining the rules) (Figure 2). The action of speaking the rules references the operations, which could be thought of as forming the mouth to create certain sounds. The relation between the sense and the reference can then form together meaning of that activity. Meaning therefore always predates speaking, because it is coextensive with existing relevance relations and familiarity in and with the current situation. For the example of explaining the rules, the action of speaking makes sense given the activity and in turn references the operations as part of the action, together this sense and reference give the activity of explaining the rules meaning.

Figure 2: Relation among activity-action-operation [14]

2.3 Praxeology of teaching

Cogenerative dialoguing is a praxis intended to produce locally relevant understandings and recommendations for future actions. In terms of activity theory these outcomes are attained through mediated actions by the tools, rules, community, and division of labor associated with the system. The outcomes are locally relevant in that they address contradictions, for example, between the ways in which teachers and students make sense of some situation. Contradictions may lead to conflict. To avoid or mitigate conflict and to allow teachers and students to return to teaching and learning, the sources of the contradictions need to be understood. The teacher, students, and researcher form a local understanding—which we term praxeology, knowledge or theory of praxis—for the classroom based on their own experiences. Different from externally devised theories, always local praxeology is based on the participation of the stakeholders. Participants in cogenerative dialogues need to be stakeholders in the praxis discussed because they have the prerequisite practical knowledge of the praxis to be improved (BOURDIEU, 1980; MAO, 1967). [15]

Cogenerative dialogue allows new praxeology to emerge by addressing the contradictions inherent in the praxis|praxeology dialectic (e.g., ROTH, LAWLESS, & TOBIN, 2000). Students and teachers discuss their praxis, their experience, of a shared event during the dialogue allowing for a meeting of theory and practice. The teachers, researchers, and students are all stakeholders in the classroom and the cogenerative dialogue allows for a "democratic construction of (open) theory, [which] provide[s] the context in which significant learning occurred" (ROTH et al., 2002, p.254). Praxis, the ongoing everyday activity of the participant, is a temporal experience, which lies in contradiction to praxeology. Contradictions exist because a uniform praxis is impossible given the variety of understandings and experiences among the participants (BOURDIEU, 1980). These contradictions coupled with the intent to change are in fact the force behind the transformation of the knowledge about teaching and learning, or praxeology, that is the goal of the cogenerative dialogue'. In other words the cogenerative dialogue supports the "local knowledge about teaching and learning created by participants (teachers, students, new teachers, researchers, supervisors, and evaluators) in the process of talking about their shared experience" (ROTH & TOBIN, 2002, p.317). Contradictions between praxeology and praxis are brought to the forefront to be understood and acted upon. The goal however is not to free the system from contradictions, as this would imply sameness between praxis and praxeology, but rather embrace them as the seeds of change. The cogenerative dialogue allows for the discussion of the event and the praxis of the participants leading to new praxeology. This discussion is not simply to understand but an explicated effort to increase the action potential for the participants. Teachers and researchers who use the cogenerative dialogue to identify the contradictions existing between their own praxis and that of the students form a more authentic praxeology (ROTH, LAWLESS, & TOBIN, 2000). [16]

2.4 Respect and whole class discussion

The following is an excerpt from a cogenerative dialogue, which included the author (Ian), his coteaching partner (Jack), and three students (Sam, Jasmine, and Brett) at which time the topics of respect and presentations were discussed. This cogenerative dialogue took place while Ian and Jack were student teachers at City High School in Philadelphia, coteaching an engineering/robotics class. This high school is located in a high poverty area of the city and at the time of this dialogue the school was facing repercussions for failure to meet mandated levels on standardized tests. [17]

This excerpt is not intended to provide indisputable evidence that the students and coteachers understand their ethical responsibilities but rather it shows a moment of a process towards that goal and is a quality example of what an initial cogenerative dialogue may sound like. This cogenerative dialogue allowed the topic of respect to come up naturally and for the students and teachers to voice their own understandings in an open forum. Because the topic of discussion is respect we felt it was important to see the initiation of the question and the conclusion of the conversation. Throughout the discussion there are a number of features that jump out that are worth comparing from start to finish, such as contradictions and references to previous comments. Overall we wanted to incorporate the reader into the cogenerative dialogue as completely as possible.

Excerpt 1

1 Ian: When we have whole class discussions do you feel like you get something out of them or do you feel –

2 Jasmine: It's not really a whole class discussion because only a couple people talk and that is the class.

3 Brett: Me personally, I don't get much out of it because I am talking … I already know all about it.

4 Jack: How do you think we could make a situation where people feel more comfortable to speak up? [18]

In the previous excerpt Ian begins the discussion with a question about whole class discussions (turn 1). Jasmine then changes course slightly by shifting the question to address a problem with the whole class discussions (turn 2). Here Jasmine is able to redirect the discussion in a non-confrontational and appropriate manner. Although Ian is the teacher here he does not react by suppressing the redirection but rather simply stays out of it. Brett continues with Ian's original question, adding that he knows "all about it" (turn 3). Finally, Jack goes back to what Jasmine brought up (turn 2) by asking how they might encourage students to speak up. Jack as a teacher here relates the discussion back to accessing the students for actionable solutions to be used in class. At first it is very likely that the teacher will both need to remind the students of the need to agree on realistic plans and, in addition, remind himself to discuss these plans rather than simply receive them.

5 Brett: Just call on them.

6 Sam: Instead of just asking a question identical to everybody you should just pick on the people that don't raise their hands, who just sit there.

7 Ian: I looked at it as an opportunity for people to just give their ideas instead of having to go through one of us saying you, then you, you like this ((gesturing with his hands toward students)).

8 Jasmine: You all could just give each group a different part of it and then we have to lead the discussion on that, so everybody would have to talk. [19]

Continuing the discussion, Brett offers a solution (turn 5), as does Sam (turn 6), but Ian does not respond directly to Brett and Sam's, rather he interjects with his own opinion about the whole class discussions (turn 7). In this exchange it is almost as if Ian is defending his own actions to the students, something that would rarely happen in the classroom setting. Jasmine then inputs a suggestion for how to change things (turn 8). Ian again changes the subject (turn 9) and begins a new line of questioning. Overall we see multiple opportunities for Ian to diverge from the typical teacher reaction and engage in conversation with the students, so as a teacher how can Ian learn to use these opportunities?

9 Ian: So you think that when the other students are up there, the other students are paying attention to them when they are talking?

10 Jasmine: No, I don't. I don't think so because when people are up there they get disrespected by other students. Some students get more respect from other students.

11 Ian: Okay. I feel in my experience the respect thing is a pretty big deal in terms of how everyone interacts with each other. Was that clear that we wanted that to be an issue for everyone or is it still going on?

12 Jasmine: Respect?

13 Ian: Do you think the discussions about respect have made some kids more aware of it?

14 Jasmine: Yeah, because then they know they are disrespectful and respect is important.

15 Sam: I actually don't think it has changed it. I haven't changed.

16 Jasmine: I believe that … I don't think so, I believe that someone who is disrespectful doesn't care enough to think about it. Just because you are having a conversation about respect, it doesn't mean it touches somebody because they don't know enough. [20]

As Ian introduces a new topic, that of paying attention (turn 9), the conversation temporally shifts from the whole group to just Ian and Jasmine. Jasmine's response brings the idea of respect to the forefront, (turn10) which Ian then works into his question (turn 11). Jasmine states that some people are more aware of respect as a result of the discussions (turn 14). But later (turn 16) Jasmine then seems to change her mind, and says that some people are not self reflective enough. Sam (turn 15) also thinks that people have not changed as a result of the discussions.

17 Ian: How do you think that applies to this class?

18 Jasmine: There are different levels of respect. Like I may not think that I am disrespecting people but you might think that I am and I mean we are so used to being around this group of people that there is a certain way that we interact. Ya' know?

19 Brett: Yeah, like how I talk to Jim or Greg you know, I may not think that … Well it's bad, but I might not think that it is disrespectful so your little discussions have shown me that I shouldn't do that like talk when the teacher is, I shouldn't do it period.

20 Ian: I understand that when you are with your friends you might act a certain way that would be appropriate but the point is that in here, or in certain situations it isn't.

21 Sam: I was gonna say, I mean some people just don't know right from wrong.

22 Jasmine: I don't think that's the case in here though.

23 Brett: Some people just don't give a fucking a squat. [21]

After Jasmine and Sam have seemingly agreed that there has been no change in terms of respect as a result of the class discussions, Ian attempts to concentrate the discussion on their class in particular (turn 17). Jasmine began talking in general about people's concept of respect (turn 16) and continues to do so (turn 18) even after Ian's attempt to refocus the discussion. [22]

Brett discusses (turn 19) an example of how the whole class discussions have helped him reevaluate his own actions, but Ian misinterprets this. Ian makes a comment about acting different in different situations (turn 20), therefore missing the point of Brett's comment. In addition Brett's comment seems contradictory to his earlier comment (turn 3) that he has not learned anything from the whole class discussions. The last sequence of comments (turns 21–23) seem to contradict some of what was said earlier in the transcription as well. Jasmine (turn 22) states that she does not feel people in this class don't know right from wrong as generalized by Sam (turn 21), but earlier (turn 10) she gave the example of people being disrespected while at the front of the class. [23]

In this particular cogenerative dialogue Ian and Jack attempted to understand the ways the students treated each other. Ian begins the discussion and then allows the students to answer without repercussions. The students and the teachers are openly discussing their own praxis. Respect is the main topic of discussion but more important than the actual topic is the fact that the students are able to express their ideas. As stated above, contradictions can exist between the student or teacher's praxis and the praxeology of the class. Here we see a contradiction between the teachers' efforts to change the praxeology in regard to whole class discussions and the praxis of the students. Ian asks the students how they feel about the whole class discussions and the students respond that they get very little out of them. Ian and Jack have initiated the whole class discussions with the intention of including everyone but according to the students only a few participate. The participants in the cogenerative dialogue then discuss this contradiction, with many offering suggestion towards a new praxeology for the class. What is missing from the excerpt is the conclusion in which the participants agree to make changes in the future and accept responsibility for those changes, but how does this actually happen? [24]

It is important to see this conversation as intended to develop over time, after repeated cogenerative dialogues the initiation of questions and topics would be more evenly distributed. Here the students present their opinions of how respect is given and taken in the classroom directly to Ian and Jack in a manner impossible in the classroom setting. In this particular discussion most students agree that respect is important and an issue in the class. It is also clear that there is recognition of the different definitions of respect that exist. Jasmine in particular mentions how there are levels of respect that can depend on the group of people (turn 18). Ian and Jack had the opportunity to learn about the students' own definitions of respect and how their own practices could possibly be misinterpreted. This can be tied back to the idea of lifeworlds (AGRE & HORSWILL, 1997; SCHUTZ & LUCKMAN, 1973) and the potential for the teacher to do violence towards the students. A teacher lacking insight into his or her students' own definitions of respect risks assuming similar perceptions of common events. Unstated assumptions and presuppositions about how a student will interpret the acts of a teacher or other students may lead to misunderstanding and conflict. [25]

This cogenerative dialogue provides an excellent introduction to the ethical questions we aim to discuss in this article. The concept of respect is discussed extensively in this cogenerative dialogue, but what is respect? Respect could be defined in various ways, as exhibited in the cogenerative dialogue, but what it describes are interactions, or more basically acts. Different expectations for speech acts or interactions can lead to misunderstandings and worse confrontation. Respect, as it is commonly used is appropriate for our purposes because of its mutually dependent nature, one must give respect to get respect. Inherent in this concept is the possibility for contradiction, not just between participants but also between intention and outcome. A person intending to act respectfully cannot expect a favorable outcome because of the unknown expectations of the other. [26]

3. Ethical considerations

3.1 Researchers as participants

The role of the researcher in the cogenerative dialogue is complicated by the implied participation of the researcher as a coteacher. But, as explored in this article, there is an ethical obligation for the researcher to be involved in a dialogue of some type with the other participants and to be an active participant in the teaching. It is not enough and is in fact unethical to simply exist as a "fly on the wall" during the study, instead the researcher needs to become part of the community and experience it as closely as the other participants (BARTON, 2001; LATHER, 1988). Critical ethnographic research implies a commitment to understanding how people view the world and to the change or consoling of others (HODGSON, 2000). A researcher participating in a cogenerative dialogue exemplifies this commitment by listening, discussing, and criticizing the teaching and learning of the classroom.

Ian: My role as a teacher was complicated by my additional role of researcher but I never felt ethically torn by the dual roles. As a teacher of the class I was able to reflect on my own practices with the help of the students, who had the privilege of observing other teachers' practices daily. My reflective practices improved as a result of the process as well. As a teacher I also was able to build a quality relationship with the students that would not have been possible as a mere observer. This relationship was crucial to the success of the cogenerative dialogue as well, allowing me to easy reduce barriers to learning and communication.

Michael: Conversely, the researcher who participates in coteaching also takes on dual roles, initially enacting a responsibility for student learning, and then enacting a responsibility toward the collective goal of transforming the situation at hand. The ethical issues for the researcher and his or her responsibilities are not taken lightly. [27]

Some may argue that the participation of the researcher in the class as a coteacher and as part of the cogenerative dialogue would somehow corrupt the data being collected, but we would argue the opposite. Some scholars suggest that the research should be considered "ruined from the start" in that the truths and knowledge it depends on are "inventions of the present" (LATHER, 1997). This takes us back to the idea of praxis; the researcher can understand the class by no other means than to participate in it. In reality the researcher simply being in the room implies their ethical responsibility for the outcomes of the class. No matter how removed they claim to be they cannot avoid interactions with the students, be it in the form of interview, or questionnaire, or even fieldnotes. The researcher may make decisions of how to be physically involved but these decisions can only be enacted through successful interaction with the participants in the study. A researcher may intend to only communicate with a particular student via a questionnaire but this interaction is laced with ethical considerations. A student may very well not understand the questionnaire and seek out the researcher, or the student may discuss the questionnaire with other students, or the student may refuse to do the questionnaire, all of which result in interactions unintended by the researcher. The researcher depends on students to act in the intended way and this dependence cannot be avoided. A standard research decision to distance oneself from the students cannot be obtained without the students agreeing to distance themselves from the researcher of their own accord. The question then arises as to how to minimize unsuccessful interactions and maximize direct communication. The cogenerative dialogue cannot guarantee success but it does make the interaction a topic of open discussion, allowing for clearer understandings. For example if we were to compare the previous transcript from Ian's class to a questionnaire about respect obvious advantages can be seen. The researcher is able to clarify points of confusion, seek multiple perspectives at once, observe interactions between peers, and allow for discussion as opposed to checking an ambiguous number. [28]

3.2 Responsibility to include participants

Responsibility for actions within a given activity system is not limited to simply physical acts but rather lays in even thoughts (BAHKTIN, 1993). Given the proximity of the participants in a classroom, populated by students, teachers, and researchers, ethical considerations are inevitable. As a researcher in a classroom there are obvious ethical questions that arise from ethnographic methods such as videotaping and recording but in a more theoretical sense the researcher is obligated by his or her very presence to address all ethical concerns that arise. In any classroom, regardless of the involvement of a researcher, teachers and students are constantly negotiating responsibility for the outcomes of the activity system of which they are part. [29]

We are free to act as a being but this freedom implies a pair in the form of responsibility. Responsibility is not given or taken but rather exists beyond being, "prior to every memory", and without it being would be impossible (LEVINAS, 1998). Responsibility is continuous; it has existed before one's awareness and will continue after death. As discussed above, humans as social beings are able to discover a sense of self only through the mediation of other humans, and so we are all responsible to each other for our own freedoms. The cogenerative dialogue is unique in that it makes this relationship explicit and could even be thought of as a basic unit of society. The cogenerative dialogue mandates by its very design commitment to the collective, responsibility for one's own acts, and the freedom of all to act as they wish.

Ian: As a teacher/researcher it was impossible and unethical for me to control the classroom entirely, I appreciated the reality of the students and I sharing responsibility. Including them in my own research was the only way I could have imagined structuring the work. The cogenerative dialogue provided an excellent format to conduct the research while fairly including the students. I naturally thought of the class as a community and conducting discussions of issues that would directly affect everyone as a community was the ideal choice.

Michael: What you frame here as a sense of ethical conflict really refers to the fact that you recognized students as co-agents in the constitution of the setting. It is quite clear that in received educational practice, students are but pawns that are asked to do whatever someone stated in a lesson plan or curriculum framework. In asking students to contribute to articulate plans for what is going to happen and how it is going to happen, you actively acknowledge the agency of students. It is true, students are agents even when teachers attempt to confine their actions to the planned curriculum, but the fact that enacted lessons generally differ from the planned curriculum points us to the fact that the lessons always are enacted collectively, precisely because students are social actors in their own right. [30]

The activity system constitutes a framework that mediates how participants orient themselves in a setting and their levels of conscious involvement and feeling of responsibility. The responsibility of the students for the outcomes of a given activity system in the classroom is often overlooked by them and other participants. As explained earlier praxis occurs in settings that are meaningful because of existing familiarity and relevance relations. Sense exists because of the activity|action dialectic, which in this case are performed by students and teachers together, this is true regardless of its acknowledgement by the teacher or researcher. Students are not traditionally treated as equal participants in the classroom activity system and therefore are denied access to opportunities to take responsibility for the outcomes of the system. Thus, students probably are not realizing their own potential and in addition will be treated as lacking potential for equal participation. The ethical contradiction arises with this treatment by teachers and researchers because all participants involved in an action are responsible even without their consent or knowledge. The action, as part of the activity system, can be as simple as inaction or making sense of another's act. Every act (result of an action) is answerable; but an act always is the result of its performance, intention, and the effect it has as evidenced in the recipient's own performance. Responsibility for an act therefore lies with all participants regardless of role (BAKHTIN, 1993). By not including students as active participants in the teaching and learning development of a class they are forced to accept responsibility for the actions of the teacher or researcher. In addition this consent is implied and not openly stated by the student to the community. The students are in a position of responsibility without being provided access to the knowledge of their responsibility and the opportunity to act on their own behalf. In a cogenerative dialogue there is the intent to resolve these issues or at least to bring them to the forefront. Ethically it is questionable for the researchers to ignore their responsibility to inform the student of his or her implied role and also to not require the students' role to change. This responsibility also lies with the teacher on a regular basis. A teacher assuming total responsibility for the actions in a class is unreasonable and unethical for similar reasons. [31]

3.3 Collective responsibility

Just as important as the topic of discussion during the cogenerative dialogue is the notion and praxis of collective responsibility (ROTH & TOBIN, 2002). Collective responsibility exists inevitable and therefore can be asserted only; even denying its existence asserts it at the same time (ROTH, 2006a). The concept of collective responsibility is a holographic one: it cannot be split up such that each participant in a situation takes on and is responsible for one part of the task, thereby contributing to its cooperative accomplishment. Rather, every individual is responsible for the entire task all the while only taking on a part if it. Thus, for example, although one teacher may have taken the lead in teaching a lesson, all others are responsible for successfully completing it and maximizing learning. If other teachers see something that could be done better, they act to improve the situation rather than waiting until after the lesson to critique, complain, or otherwise refer to a missed opportunity. [32]

A successful cogenerative dialogue needs to conclude with a specific plan that all participants feel responsible for. A sense of responsibility is not arrived at simply by discussion, but by agreed upon plans being enacted. The cogenerative dialogue is specifically designed to address this process and make it a topic of discussion. As students and teachers participate in cogenerative dialogues and attempt to change the teaching and learning in their classroom they learn to recognize and accept the implied responsibility of their actions. Teachers will make changes to the classroom they agreed to as part of the cogenerative dialogue and learn the advantages of including the students. In addition, they will learn that this inclusion is necessary for their own actions to be ethical. The students will see the teacher attempting to make changes that were agreed upon and begin to understand how their own actions influence the class directly and indirectly. An understanding of the similarities between them and their responsibility for each other adds to the sense of solidarity among all participants. For example, a teacher changing a homework policy because of a cogenerative dialogue agreement demonstrates to the students the control they possess. Moreover, the students have agreed to change certain behaviors as well, which in turn change the culture of the class. Students and teachers begin to see how the responsibility for their own actions depends not only on what they do but also the other person allowing it to happen. A teacher cannot change a homework policy alone, it depends on the students "going along with it" for the change to really happen. Giving the students the opportunity to discuss the change openly allows for potential problems to be presented, for the students to understand the reasons for the change, and for the change to be ethical. [33]

There is of course the possibility that during a cogenerative dialogue teachers and students may fall into the traditional roles. In the previously discussed cogenerative dialogue the initial topic was concerned with whole class discussions, their effectiveness and student participation. Here we have an insight to the different praxis of the students and teachers as they describe whole class discussions. Jasmine comments that only a few students speak and Brett comments that he does not participate because he already knows the topic. Jasmine, Brett, Ian, and Jack describe the issues they see as if they are separate from their own classroom experience; this disconnection is exactly what the cogenerative dialogue aims to diminish. The teachers and students are discussing their own praxis and in doing so changing their praxeology. Jack specifically asks how to involve those students who do not participate, which addresses students learning habits in the classroom. There is an apparent contradiction between the intentions of the whole class discussions and students' experiences as implied by Jack's questions and the comments of the students. Ian states his intention to include everyone's ideas freely but has observed a lack of involvement from the students, Jasmine responds that there are other techniques that could yield better results, but Ian does not expand upon her comment. In this exchange, the students and the teachers are discussing a contradiction openly in the declared and undeclared hopes of achieving an actionable outcome. From an ethical perspective, there are still unresolved issues in regard to the responsibility for the actions. Ian and Jack ask how they can get students more involved in discussions, which is really a practice of questionable ethics. The responsibility for the group discussion lies with both the teachers and students—both parties have to assume it, if they are to achieve equitable influence on the articulation of actionable plans for future lessons. It is not clear that the students and teachers in this case understand their own responsibility as well. This is not to say they should be blaming each other for a poor discussion but rather they should be accepting the responsibility for the necessary changes. The ignoring of a student comment and Ian's attempt to continue his initial line of questioning demonstrates an aspect of cogenerative dialogues that needs to be avoided. [34]

3.4 Unknown outcomes for students and teachers

Cogenerative dialogue is a separate activity system from that of the normal daily class but its outcomes are meant to transfer to the classroom activity system (ROTH, LAWLESS, & TOBIN, 2000). The cogenerative dialogue is built on explicated collective responsibility and serves as a model for the classroom. Students, teachers, and researchers discuss the responsibility they all possess for the actions of the class and agree to make changes where necessary. By focusing on responsibility, all participants have only an overt choice to ignore their part. There is no guarantee of successful interactions in this activity because the meaning will only be known after the act has been completed (ROTH, LAWLESS, & MASCIOTRA, 2001), but there is an ethical goal. Hence, this uncertainty should be under discussion as part of the cogenerative dialogue. The researcher and teacher need to be clear that what is discussed are goals and that there is an authentic intent to make the discussed changes, and even if the goals are not achieved the activity was still worthwhile. The researcher in this discussion will most likely be able to explain this in theoretical terms, but it is necessary that this discussion be an established part of the cogenerative dialogue to allow for negotiation and learning for all. [35]

3.5 Unknown outcomes for researcher

Cogenerative dialogue serves as a means to engage all the participants in a conversation about their own actions. A researcher simply observing students and teachers may attempt to test certain hypotheses throughout the study by recording behaviors after specific events, but this action will not lead to a valid data. Researchers cannot say for certain what a particular individual is thinking at any moment and should not even speculate. "One therefore does not know whether the objectively observed behavioral data actually count as a test of the assumed connection operationalized by the experimenter or of a quite different, unrecognized hypothesis resides in the subject's head" (HOLZKAMP, 1991, p.69). Instead of speculation, a researcher needs to work directly with the students and teacher to attempt to generalize about their actions. In terms of activity theory, the object of an activity is mediated by countless variables making a reduction to one or more simple factor impossible. In fact, interpretive, historical and hermeneutic reduction cannot ever capture the biographical experience of practice; and logical reduction, which has the historical reduction as a prerequisite captures praxis even less (ROTH, 2006b). For example, in a classroom a student may or may not participate as the teacher intended. This participation, as defined by the researcher, is subject to variation depending on, but not limited to, the tools used in the activity including language, the other students' in the class actions, the rules implied in that activity, and the division of labor for the task. It would be simplistic to assume a cause-effect relationship between one variation and the outcome while ignoring the rest. This leads to an ethical question of how to generalize about the intentions of a participant, this is an ethical question because of the misrepresentation and bias that lace typical generalizations. Cogenerative dialogue attempts to provide a forum for discussion that lets all participants hear the opinions of others involved in the activity. To truly understand the process of learning we must evaluate it, as ethnomethodologists suggest, as a distributed, on-going, social process and phenomenon in its own right (GARFINKEL, 1967). Interactions during a cogenerative dialogue are ideal for ethical analysis of learning. Discussion of the class allows the researcher to listen and participate in a students' discussion of their learning and perception of the class and as such ethically accomplish his or her research goals. [36]

The following is an excerpt from a cogenerative dialogue performed by the first author (Ian) and a group of students (Renee and Sharrita) from their algebra class. Here Ian and the students discuss learning in the algebra class. Renee explains how she views different topics in the class as either easy or hard and what it means to be "stupid."

Ian: This was an impromptu cogenerative dialogue after the algebra class Renee was part of. Renee was of particular interest to me because she was failing the course and rarely made good on her word when we agreed to meet after school or at lunch. In addition she was a student from a different part of the school and had few friends in the class. Renee was a challenge for me because she was consistently late to class or absent and had a very low opinion of herself. Just about every time I spoke with her she told me how bad she was at math and that she just couldn't learn. Because of her negative view of math I wanted to help her feel better about herself and put the class in a different perspective.

Michael: To me, impromptu means that it was just in time. It also means that rather than waiting for contradictions to lead to detrimental developments and outcomes, doing the cogenerative dialogue then and there means having enacted collective responsibility for the situation as a whole.

Excerpt 2

1 Renee: When it comes to puttin' graphs together, I can do that. When it comes to stuff like this, little patterns and stuff like that, I can do that. Like the easy, the basic stuff.

2 Ian: [This isn't ...

3 Renee: [Stuff that I've been working on every year since math.

4 Ian: This is new stuff.

5 Renee: No, to me it's basic, it's easy.

6 Ian: So you're getting confused. When you actually can do something, you say to yourself this must be easy for everyone else, but it isn't. You should be patting yourself on the back saying "I'm getting it". [Isn't that right, Sharrita?

7 Renee: [It seem like it, cause

8 Ian: Cause not everyone gets it. [37]

Renee begins this excerpt with a description of things she feels confident doing with regard to math (turn 1). She describes these things as "easy", "basic", and stuff she's been working on every year (turn3), which queues Ian to discuss the use of these terms. Ian tells her that really what she is describing are topics that are new to the class (turn 4). Renee disagrees with Ian (turn 5), not that the topics are new but rather they must not be since they are easy for her. Ian then attempts to summarize a misunderstanding he feels Renee is having (turn 6) and draws on Sharrita to agree with him. Here Ian is assuming he understands Renee and her confusion and is attempting to explain the flaw to her. Ian has quickly assessed the situation but it is unclear whether Renee will accept his evaluation or if it is even firmly grounded. More importantly than Ian's comments specifically is the fact that a student learning is being discussed openly. By talking about Renee's learning they have brought her actions to the forefront of the discussion for everyone involved to consider. A researcher simply observing this class would not have been able to understand how Renee views her own learning or how actions relates to these views. Speculation about Renee's behavior in class could have simply been limited to her apparent disinterest in the material and trouble with classmates, which only really scratches the surface of her issues with math and school.

9 Sharrita: You see me smile when I get something. I'm like yeah ((raises her hand, smiles))

10 Renee: That's why I don't do my homework. Because I can't. And then everybody … I don't know, can't do it

11 Sharrita: Mr. Stith, the reason I got your class is because I learn stuff in your class. That's the reason why I got your class. To tell you the truth.

12 Renee: I don't necessarily call myself stupid. It's just that I don't get math and I don't want to sit around other people and they be like done. Because then I feel like in their head they lookin' at me like, oh my gosh. [38]

Based on Renee's behavior in class Ian, as the teacher of this class, could have assumed she did little work for any number of reasons. These assumptions would be unethical and only speculation. Ian here is granted access into Renee's lifeworld and as such can begin to understand why she may perform different actions in class. A lifeworld can be thought of as the world a person perceives irreducibly structured by the environment the person exists and the customs associated with the environment (AGRE & HORSWILL, 1997; SCHUTZ & LUCKMAN, 1973). In the classroom there is an overlap of lifeworlds all structured on various experiences. Students, as do any persons, exist in multiple lifeworlds; Renee's comment about her homework is particularly salient in light of mention of her friends' struggles. Renee implies she would reach out to her friends for help if she felt she could (turn 10). Again Renee is able to describe her own learning and issues that impede it. Interesting here too, in light of the cooperative method of the cogenerative dialogue, is Renee's mention of her friends (turn 10), which implies the connection of her learning with the learning of her peers. According to Renee, the people who sit around her finish quickly and that makes her feel stupid (turn 12), which could be a reason for her sitting away from the class, in the back. As part of the cogenerative dialogue this would have been an ideal time for Renee and Ian to discuss possible ways to improve her performance. For example Renee might have considered changing her normal seating location to sit near students she worked better with. As a researcher, Ian could attempt to ethically explore Renee's learning in more depth and reevaluate his own observations of Renee in class. In addition, Renee's involvement in the cogenerative dialogue over the period of the research could lead to a more complete self understanding for Renee of her own learning, which is a vital outcome of the cogenerative dialogue. [39]

3.6 Can experiences apply to different activity systems?

Cogenerative dialogues, as a tool to improve teaching and learning benefit the students' action potential with regard to their own learning in other contexts. As discussed, cogenerative dialogues serve multiple purposes simultaneously. In particular, there is an ontological intention with regard to the students understanding of their own consciousness. As discussed by GUBA and LINCOLN (1989) in their formalization of an authenticity criterion for qualitative research, there is a necessity for authentic research to encourage participants to better understand their own decisions and what makes them who they are. By discussing and rationalizing their own actions, students learn the complex nature of the classroom and their role in it. Furthermore, the goal is for students to apply their understandings to new activity systems outside of the class being discussed. For example, students may find themselves in a different class evaluating their own actions. Along with this evaluation comes the potential for the students to attempt to change the new system. The students may feel empowered to act to change the inadequacies they see; in terms of the authenticity criteria, this is known as tactical authenticity. But, as addressed previously, the outcome of this attempted change is unknown until completion, until sense can be cognized. [40]

Ethically, are those involved in the research responsible for the actions of the student as part of another activity system? The activity system in which the cogenerative dialogue was conducted is constructed such that the traditional division of labor, rules, and tools are vastly different from those associated with a traditional classroom activity system. The students during a cogenerative dialogue are no longer the subjects of potential disrespect from each other and adults; their role has been shifted from that of passive receiver of information to co-constructor of information. Along with this, ideas of power have been shifted allowing students to allow less power to be perceived by adults present. These changes do not apply to the majority of classrooms the students will be part of. Is ethical to encourage the students to change their view of the classroom only to have an opposing view enforced by other adults demanding power over them? A student may ask a teacher to discuss the behavioral rules of their class openly while the teacher may see this as a direct attempt to restrict the power they want. There is the potential for a student to demand reform so vehemently that it will be seen as corrupting the system many teachers cling to. [41]

4. Discussion

4.1 Facilitating cogenerative dialogues

Facilitating a cogenerative dialogue is a skill that develops over time. There is a temptation for teachers to attempt to impose power over the students during the cogenerative dialogue despite the fact that this is impossible. An example of this temptation is seen in Excerpt 1, when Jasmine suggests a strategy Ian could use in the class to encourage quiet students to participate in whole class discussions, "You all could just give each group a different part of it and then we have to lead the discussion on that, so everybody would have to talk" (turn 8). Instead of continuing with Jasmine's train of thought, Ian changed the direction of the conversation (turn 9). As explored earlier, this is an example of unethical treatment of the student, but of particular interest here is how Ian's practices change as he learns. In excerpt 2, two years later than the first, Ian and the students discuss Renee's learning in math class. Here, instead of just listening then moving on Ian continues with the direction begun by Renee and encourages her to continue the discussion. It is evident that Ian's practices have changed over time and with repeated cogenerative dialogues. Ethically, Ian's evolution as a researcher facilitating cogenerative dialogues is vitally important. As discussed in section 3.2 he is ethically obligated to be directly involved with the other stakeholders in the class, but successfully accomplishing this is a matter of researching one's own practices. Ian has been able to grow as a researcher to the point that, as shown in Excerpt 2, he can discuss a student learning and seek to resolve issues with the student directly. Renee summarizes her strengths with regard to math, "When it comes to puttin' graphs together, I can do that. When it comes to stuff like this, little patterns and stuff like that, I can do that. Like the easy, the basic stuff" (turn 1) in an effort to show her lack of skills with the material covered in the class so far. Ian is able to hear this directly from Renee and then expand on this concept with her, as opposed to what happened in Excerpt 1, when Ian does not effectively discuss the learning of the particular students involved with the cogenerative dialogue, instead he continually generalizes the discussion. [42]

4.2 Authentic access to student interaction

Unlike research methods that mandate a removed observation by the researcher, the cogenerative dialogue allows the researcher to participate in interactions between students. Ethically, this situation is advantageous in that the researcher becomes responsible for successful actions with the students. Unlike an interview or other removed methods the cogenerative dialogue allows a discussion to naturally occur without a strict format. Participants in an interview fill the roles of the interviewee and interviewer and as such avoid some of the issues that may arise during a normal interaction. These issues could seem to hinder the collection of data but during the cogenerative dialogue these issues are the topic of discussion and lead to more authentic conversation. Differences in speech patterns or language and therefore expectations are not only observed but experienced first hand and must be dealt with. As discussed previously, to accurately understand the students' intentions there must be an opportunity to discuss these intentions and how misunderstanding can occur. [43]

4.3 Explicit discussion of ethics in classroom

The cogenerative dialogue can be thought of as a tool that brings the underlying ethical issues inherent in education and education research to the meso-level to be discussed. As previously discussed, the cogenerative dialogue can be formalized as an activity system, but more specifically it is an activity constructed of countless simultaneous activities. Using the relationship between activity-action-operation as a starting point we can see how the cogenerative dialogue ethically leads to meaning. In addition, we draw a parallel between the formation of meaning for a given activity and the formation of a collective plan for a cogenerative dialogue. [44]

Within a given activity with multiple subjects one person's actions only have sense in relation to the activity, which is a community system. Another way to express this is to say that one person's actions require the participation of the other subjects in the activity. This relationship is crucial to our understanding of people's interactions and is, as discussed previously, in line with the ethical responsibility we all have to each other, but how do ethics mediate these interactions? We would claim here that the cogenerative dialogue is an ideal model for how an activity system can ethically function because of the collective responsibility it requires. Unlike most activities within which these interior activities are ignored, the cogenerative dialogue requires these to be discussed and analyzed collectively. The cogenerative dialogue intentionally focuses on points of contradictions within these activities, allowing them to be collectively reduced, while reflecting on the method. The method of reduction is of the utmost importance if we are to present the cogenerative dialogue as an ethical activity. Beginning with the example previously used, that of discussing the rules of the cogenerative dialogue, we would stress that this simple activity typifies the cogenerative dialogue process; a discussion with a collective goal agreed upon in the end. This example is important in that if the participants do not take their responsibility towards the rules seriously, the cogenerative dialogue will not function properly. This understanding and commitment is vital and intentionally explicated, and as such is really an understanding of ethics. Ethically, we are responsible to each other for our own freedom, just as with the cogenerative dialogue we are responsible to each other for its effectiveness. Participants are constrained to discuss this responsibility openly and reflect on their own actions in light of their responsibility. Again, here it is important to view the cogenerative dialogue to evolve over time such that responsibility to the other can be addressed repeatedly. [45]

5. Coda

Ethical participant research is dependent on authentic interactions between the stakeholders, and the cogenerative dialogue is a valuable tool towards this end. The cogenerative dialogue allows the researcher to become an active participant in the discussion of events concerned with the class, which he/she is obligated to do. Inherent in the dialogue is the inclusion of the students and teachers, as active participants in the discussion of the class and as researchers. The cogenerative dialogue does lead to some ethical concerns as well, but this does not overshadow the advantages it has over other research tools. The cogenerative dialogue gives the researcher the opportunity to make many of his or her ethical concerns explicated and resolvable by all the stakeholders while authentically conducting the data collection. In addition to explicating ethical concerns, the cogenerative dialogue is itself ethically sound because of its equity-based format and focus on collective responsibility. [46]


Grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada provided support for the preparation of this article. All opinions expressed are our own.


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Ian STITH is doctoral fellow in the Pacific Center for Scientific and Technological Literacy at the University of Victoria.


Ian Stith

MacLaurin Building A420
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8W 3N4

Phone: 1-250-721-7834

E-mail: ianstith@uvic.ca


Wolff-Michael ROTH is Lansdowne Professor of applied cognitive science at the University of Victoria. His interdisciplinary research agenda includes studies in science and mathematics education, general education, applied cognitive science, sociology of science, and linguistics (pragmatics). His recent publications include Toward an Anthropology of Graphing (Kluwer, 2003), with A.C. BARTON Rethinking Scientific Literacy (Routledge, 2004), Talking Science: Language and Learning in Science (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), and Doing Qualitative Research: Praxis of Method (SensePublishers, 2005).


Wolff-Michael Roth

Lansdowne Professor
MacLaurin Building A548
University of Victoria, BC, V8W 3N4

Phone: 1-250-721-7785

E-mail: mroth@uvic.ca


Stith, Ian & Roth, Wolff-Michael (2006). Who gets to ask the questions: The ethics in/of cogenerative dialogue praxis [46 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(2), Art. 38, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0602382.

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)

ISSN 1438-5627

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