The Use of Metapatterns for Research into Complex Systems of Teaching, Learning, and Schooling— Part II: Applications

Jeffrey W. Bloom, Tyler Volk


In part I of this paper set, Volk and Bloom discuss the reasons why metapatterns are important in biological and cultural contexts. Here, in part II, we show how metapatterns can be applied to an important problem in qualitative educational research: the difficulties in elucidating fundamental patterns of interaction. In meeting this challenge we provide a metapatterns-based framework for analyzing and interpreting qualitative data. We begin by acknowledging the importance of context, the setting within which any system under investigation can be expected to exhibit metapatterns as functional components that are vital for the maintenance of that specific system within a particular context. We follow this discussion by defining three dimensions of our proposed analytical framework. The first dimension, which we call depth, examines the various metapatterns involved in the particular system under investigation. Extent is the second dimension, which involves extending to other contexts the interacting sets of metapatterns found in the investigation of depth. The third component is abstraction, which involves generating overarching principles or models from the analytical results of the first and second dimensions (i.e., depth and extent). We recommend that these three dimensions should be used recursively to meet the challenge named above. We demonstrate the framework through an example of a classroom discussion involving children arguing about the concept of density. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of this analytical framework, along with a list of fundamental principles of this framework and a list of questions that can guide qualitative research.

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