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Multimodal Communication

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Producing Shared Attention/Awareness in High School Tutoring

Jesse Pirini
Published Online: 2014-11-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2014-0012


During the activities of everyday life social actors always produce multiple simultaneous higher level actions. These necessarily operate at different levels of attention and awareness. Modal density is a methodological tool that can be used to analyse the attention/awareness of social actors in relation to higher level actions they produce, positioning actions in the foreground, midground and background of attention. Using modal density to analyse an opening and a closing in high school tutoring sessions, I show social actors transitioning into and out of producing the same higher level actions at the foreground of their attention/awareness. Through this analysis I identify two potentially unique aspects of one-to-one tutoring. Firstly I show one way that a tutor helps a student take on the practices of being a good student, and secondly I show the influence that students have over tutoring. I argue that movements into and out of a shared focus of attention are potentially useful sites for analysis of social interaction.

Keywords: attention/awareness; multimodality; modal density; tutoring


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About the article

Jesse Pirini

Jesse Pirini is a PhD Candidate at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand, and a member of the Multimodal Research Centre. He is currently investigating high school tutoring, building on an earlier project into business coaching. Jesse’s research applies and develops multimodal research methods, with a view to improving tutoring outcomes at high school level and making theoretical and methodological contributions to social interaction research.

Published Online: 2014-11-07

Published in Print: 2014-11-01

Citation Information: Multimodal Communication, Volume 3, Issue 2, Pages 163–179, ISSN (Online) 2230-6587, ISSN (Print) 2230-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2014-0012.

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