Criticizing another's child: How teachers evaluate students during parent-teacher conferences

Academic Article


  • AbstractAs the principal occasion for establishing cooperation between family and school, the parent-teacher conference is crucial to the social and educational lives of children. But there is a problem: reports of parent-teacher conflict pervade extant literature. Previous studies do not, however, explain how conflict emerges in real time or how conflict is often avoided during conferences. This article examines a diverse corpus of video-recorded naturally occurring conferences to elucidate a structuralpreference organizationoperative during parent-teacher interaction that enables participants to forestall conflict. Focusing on teachers' conduct around student-praise and student-criticism, this investigation demonstrates that teachers do extra interactional work when articulating student-criticism. This research explicates two of teachers' most regular actions constituting this extra work:obfuscating responsibilityfor student-troubles by omitting explicit reference to the student, androutinizingstudent-troubles by invoking other comparable cases of that same trouble. Analysis illuminates teachers' work to maintain solidarity with students, and thus parents. (Institutional interaction, parent-teacher conferences, conversation analysis, criticism, praise, evaluating students, assessments, preference organization)*
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 2016
  • Published In


  • Institutional interaction
  • assessments
  • conversation analysis
  • criticism
  • evaluating students
  • parent-teacher conferences
  • praise
  • preference organization
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 33
  • End Page

  • 58
  • Volume

  • 45
  • Issue

  • 1