Interactional Competence: What can we tell from collaborative speaker transitions in multiparty university student meetings?


The concept of interactional competence (IC) has been examined increasingly within the framework of CA (e.g., Kasper, 2009), especially beyond the boundaries of second/foreign language settings in the last decade (e.g., Hall, 2011; Okada, 2013). This extending body of research on IC has started to overlap with the growing body of research on multimodal L1 interaction (e.g., Ford & Stickle, 2012; Goodwin, 2007; Mondada, 2009), with a common interest on how multimodal resources are configured by participants to accomplish social actions collaboratively and co-ordinately. The present study lies at this intersection and attempts to provide both fields with empirical data from an educational and institutional setting, that is, university student group meetings. Drawing upon video- and audio-recordings ten hours of meetings of a group of naval architecture undergraduate students from the Newcastle University Corpus of Academic English (NUCASE) (Walsh, 2014), the current study aims at investigating the professional and academic IC(s) of university students to participate in multiparty group meetings.

This study presents a fine-detailed, sequential multimodal analysis of the transition, establishment and maintenance of speakership and recipiency during one particular phase of the meetings interaction, that is, the ‘roundtable update discussion’. The analysis demonstrates participants’ competences to: first, orient to the norms of the turn-taking system in talk-in-interaction amongst multi-parties (e.g., one speaks at a time); second, develop their shared knowledge to the context-specific roles that emerge locally in the activities of the roundtable update discussion (e.g., meeting chair, primary speaker, non-chair non-primary self-selecting speaker); third, take upon the roles in relation to one another temporally and sequentially; and fourth, in accordance with the roles, build their interactional projects and actions (Levinson, 2013) concurrently and co-ordinately by drawing upon the whole set of multimodal resources (e.g., gaze direction, gesture, body positioning).

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