Alan Zemel

Alan Zemel

Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
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PhD, Temple University

Alan Zemel

Research Interests

My research explores how participants engage in instruction, how they display learning’s work, and how they display having made a discovery. In particular, I am interested in analyzing the various communicative strategies and resources people use to display their knowledge, expertise and understanding in various healthcare contexts and other settings outside the conventional classroom. I examine the interactional methods people use to negotiate what is learnable in the instructional setting. Both the work of instruction and the work of learning are treated as mutually constitutive interactional phenomena. Data consist of audio and/or video recordings of talk-in-interaction, but also can include other forms of computer-mediated interactional data such as SMS messages and chat logs. In my work, I focus on how we work together to know the unknown, to speak of the unspoken, and to recognize the unrecognized.

Current Projects

Enactment as Experience in Couple Therapy

Therapists use various kinds of formulation procedures, including direct-modeled speech, to provide clients with alternative ways of understanding their troubles. Therapist's model ways a client may address a partner using direct-modeled speech as a demonstration that the client then is called on to enact with his/her partner. The enactment is monitored for its adequacy by the therapist who may call for a correction when warranted. A successful enactment is designed to explicitly exercise the client's recall of the therapist's actions and interpretive procedures for making sense of the therapist's demonstration. In this way, the enactment is designed as a possible memorable that may serve as a warrant for future epistemic claims or subsequent actions. Results of this research will be will be presented at the second meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) at the Teachers College, Columbia University, in September 2012.

Accounting Practices in Intensive Reprocessing Therapy (Alan Zemel, Frances Yoeli, and Tessa Prattos-Spongalides)

Intensive Reprocessing Therapy (IRT) is a form of therapy that uses bilateral sensory stimulation to promote adaptive processing of traumatic memories. In IRT, the client engages in directed focusing activities that consist of remembering a traumatic memory while engaging in bilateral visual, auditory and tactile stimulation. This research examines how client accounts produced during IRT are accomplished. Specifically, we are interested in the local and situated ways that client actions (including talk) are built as responses to the therapist’s actions and how therapist’s actions are built as responses to the client’s actions.

Enactment in Surgical Education (Alan Zemel and Timothy Koschmann)

Senior surgeons routinely organize instruction of residents in the operating room in terms of demonstration-enactment sequences. Senior surgeons perform actions that residents are expected to observe and understand. Occasionally, a senior surgeon, upon completing an action sequence will call on the resident to repeat that demonstrated sequence. The resident's enactment displays his or her understanding of the demonstrated sequence. We examine how these sequences are organized to provide residents with hands on experience as a form of learning.

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