AERA award for paper

Published on
February 1, 2023

Together with first authors Heleen Pennings (UMCU), Marloes Hendrickx and Marieke Thurlings (both TU/e), Perry den Brok won an Award for Outstanding Paper of the 2022 AERA (American Educational research Association) special interest group Complexity Theories for their paper entitled ‘The Application of Orbital Decomposition Analysis to Study the Dynamic Quality of Educational Interactions’.

The award will be given at the 2023 AERA conference.

In the paper, a complex statistical method called Orbital Decomposition is used to analyze interactions. Orbital Decomposition allows researchers to find patterns in series of interactions by looking at specific sequences that reoccur or certain actors that start or dominate these sequences. In the awarded paper, the method is used to analyze on the one hand interpersonal interactions between teachers and their classes, and on the other hand interactions between groups of teachers during professional learning communities. The paper shows that high quality interpersonal relationships or high quality group interactions between teachers can be distinguished via these patterns. For example, successful learning communities show interactions with all members involved and specific sequences of speech acts that go beyond mere exchange of information or opinions. Also, successful communities often have facilitators that stimulate variation in speech acts and contributions from different members. Good interpersonal relationships between teachers and their classes, in the other case, are characterized by teachers being able to gain positive control (influence) after both positive and less positive interactions by displaying a variety of non-verbal and verbal cues.

The paper has recently been expanded and is now under submission for a theme issue in a peer reviewed journal.