Characterization Of The Joint Elaboration Of Conceptual Understanding And Of Students’ Performances. Volcanoes And Earthquakes At Grade 5.

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Supervisor : Gérard Sensevy

CREAD, Centre de Recherche sur l’Education les Apprentissages et la Didactique EA N°3875, IUFM de Bretagne, site de Rennes, CS 54310 153, rue Saint Malo, 35043 Rennes Cedex


This PhD dissertation aims at characterizing the joint elaboration of conceptual understanding in a case study of geosciences sequences and tries to match it with students’ performances. We analyze our corpus within the JATD or Joint Action Theory in Didactics. The fundamental viewpoint of the JATD is to consider teaching and learning as a joint action thought of as part of a language game specific to didactic systems. Such learning games are described using a system of theoretical categories. Within the JATD, we refer to the conceptual understanding as the mastering of epistemic games. We then analyze the dialectic between learning games and epistemic games for two learning topics favourable to the comparison. This leads us to produce a fine characterization of the observed classroom practices. Relying on this analysis and our theoretical framework, we make claims about the comparative efficiency of these practices. These claims are turned into hypotheses that are tested with a set of data coded from the students’ productions to the test. We conclude that the efficiency of a teaching practice depends on an attunement of density of knowledge, specificity of knowledge and, with the notion of distance to the gain, of a more or less confrontation of the students to the epistemic games during the effective course of the learning games.

Keywords: comparative didactics, distance to the gain, learning games, epistemic games, geosciences sequences, joint action theory in didactics.

Full reference for the thesis:

Santini, J. (2009). Caractérisation de l’élaboration conjointe de la compréhension conceptuelle et des performances associées. Volcans et séismes au Cours Moyen. Thèse de Sciences de l’Education, Université Rennes 2.


  • Santini, J. (2009). Characterization of the Joint Elaboration of Conceptual Understanding and of Students’ Performances. Volcanoes and Earthquakes at Grade 5. European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Vienna, Austria, September 28-30.
  • Santini, J., & Sensevy, G. (2007). Teacher’s action and student’s conceptions in the geology class : a case study. Symposium Qualitative investigations of science classroom practices, 6th ESERA Conference (European Science Education Research Association), Malmö, Sweden, August 21-25.


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