Ideal Classmates and Reciprocal Idealizing: Asking Students to Imagine Ideal Classmates Can Make Them More Ideal

March 22, friday  • 11.30p – 12.30p • Moore 155A • Tim Murphey, Professor of English at Kanda University of International Studies. •

I will describe some easy action research/activity done in the spring of 2012 with 488 students in 4 Japanese universities in the Tokyo area. It had a big impact on our students and could easily be replicated in other classrooms, in almost any school situation.

We asked the students:

Q39 Please describe a group of classmates that you could learn English well with. What would you all do to help each other learn better and more enjoyably? いっしょに親しく英語を学ぶクラスメートのグループがどのようなものかを想像して書いてみて下さい。より上手に楽しく助け合って学ぶにはどうすればいいでしょうか。(Students could answer in Japanese, English, or both.)

Their answers were so interesting that we compiled them anonymously on a handout and gave it back to the class for discussion. The 488 comments were then coded into 16 descriptors, that I will share with you during this presentation, and further researched in a survey with the same students. The positive results can be understood partially through the field of Appreciative Inquiry, emotional contagion, and the altruistic turn, which I will describe. Teachers will be given practical ideas for doing these and similar things in the classroom. In the meantime, I dare ask you (And dare you to ask others!), “What do people do to help you have a great day, a good class, and a meaningful life?”