Classroom-oriented research from a complex systems perspective

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Diane Larsen-Freeman

Abstract

Bringing a complex systems perspective to bear on classroom-oriented research challenges researchers to think differently, seeing the classroom ecology as one dynamic system nested in a hierarchy of such systems at different levels of scale, all of which are spatially and temporally situated. This article begins with an introduction to complex dynamic systems theory, in which challenges to traditional ways of conducting classroom research are interwoven. It concludes with suggestions for research methods that are more consistent with the theory. Research does not become easier when approached from a complex systems perspective, but it has the virtue of reflecting the way the world works.

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Author Biography

Diane Larsen-Freeman, University of Michigan

dianelf@umich.edu

Diane Larsen-Freeman, PhD in linguistics from the University of Michigan, is Professor Emerita at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she was a faculty member and Director of the English Language Institute. She is also Professor Emerita at the SIT Graduate Institute, where she was on the faculty from 1978 to 2002. She has been a Visiting Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania for the past five years and will return for a sixth this coming year.

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