Alignment, attunement, co-activity, co-regulation: convergent trajectories?

Publication Timeline:  Mars 31, 2016:

Manuscripts due. April 15, 2016:

Review Results. May 31, 2016:

Revision due. July 2016: Articles published. 


The latest years educational research has focussed on the action seen as space-time in which learning and teaching interact. Already in the constructivist approach the interaction played a central role, also due to the influence that Vygotskji had in the second half of the last century, but the meaning was different since the attention was on how the interaction affected learning and how the relationship with the expert could make the learner access his/her own Zone of Proximal Development . The most recent researches have highlighted the non-deterministic relation between teaching and learning by also exploring the role played by non-cognitive aspects, and have underlined how the mutual influence is not direct, but mediated (Poizat et al., 2013; Damiano, 2013). The mediation was meant in two ways. In the first, mainly of constructivist matrix, the teacher fosters the learning processes by setting a number of dispositifs/environments. The learner rethinks and restructures in those dispositifs/environments or in the relation with them concepts previously acquired. In such approach the role of the teachers is indirect and passes through the didactical mediators and the environment. The second meaning of mediation puts at the centre the process in which teaching and learning interact (the didactical action) and the concepts are restructured with recursive paths in which the related viewpoints (the teacher’s one and the students’ one) change in an Enactive way. The space of action can, thus, become, space of transformation and modeling of the two actors. In the Instructivism the process is rather different since (1) neither knowledge, nor the identity of the teacher change, and (2) there’s a diachronic sequence between teaching and learning, and a linear dependence. But the Instructivism had an advantage since, believing that learning processes are based on intelligibility of the concept and its immediate comprehension (not mediated), offered an explanation of the teaching/learning process.  What happens if, as said, the relation isn’t causal? What happens if teaching, even if effective, doesn’t affect mechanically learning since it depends on the previous learner’s world, and on how such learner perceives the external inputs?   It seems that there’s a contradiction between the need of an interaction and its possibility. To solve this contradiction, the concept of ambiguity by Merleau-Ponty could be useful to take into account at the same time the attunement between the two actors and their autonomy and difference.  To activate processes of reorganization is necessary that the intervention by one of the two actors is perceived as input by the other actor. In other words if A says X to B, B doesn’t receive X, but an input that could create disequilibrium, that activates in B the need to reorganize his/her own concepts according to his/her internal structures. B can receive the message sent by A as an input, if there’s empathy and listening between A and B, if there’s alignment/attunement, if a shared world is building. In this case the inputs sent by A to B and by B to A play as trigger for the mutual learning process.  
This attunement/alignment process was highlighted by many authors in the last years even if the different proposals are not identical. Here follows some of them. Laurillard speaks about alignment (2012, 95, 100) and states in several significant contributions in the psychopedagogical literature, that it’s a basic principle for teaching. She offers a series of proposals to promote it (ivi, 99-108). Lutzker focussed on attunement in different articles and organized an EERA symposium (ECER 2014) on “Attunement and Education”. Vinatier and Numa-Bocage (2007) speak about co-activité and highlight how the accord during the interaction makes it possible to activate learning advancements. The same topic is connected to wider researches activated in the last years, also outside the educational field. Berthoz speaks about empathy (2004; 2009), Gallese speaks about the relation between Embodied Simulation and Empathy and between Embodied Simulation and Intentional Attunement (2009a; 2009b) and underlines the relation between knowledge and action, and the role of mirror neurons.  In other words the research on alignment is intertwined with the one on neuro-didactics as it’s testified by the researches by Laurillard (Royal Society, 2011), Rivoltella (2012) and Mareschal, Butterworth, Tolmie (2013), clearly besides the one by Gallese. The previous proposals seem to have a common aspect on the central role of the action in the teaching/learning process. In the latest years we have been investigating on the topic of alignment (Rossi, 2011; 2015; Giaconi, 2014) starting from the enactivist approach and from the concept of structural coupling, that is, by applying the researches by Varela to 
didactics. It seems that from those studies the concept of self and hetero regulation can be reinterpreted in a co-regulation perspective. The call wish to investigate the topic of, alignment, attunement, co-activitié, co-regulation, wish to deepen the meanings of such concepts and the affinities among them and, clearly, to catch the directions for the teaching activity.
Berthoz A. (2009). La simplexité. Odile Jacob. Paris. Berthoz A., Jorland G. (Eds.). (2004). L’empathie. Odile Jacob. Paris.
Damiano E. (2013). La mediazione didattica. Franco Angeli. Milano.
Frauenfelder E., Rivoltella P.C., Rossi P.G., Sibilio M. (2013). “Bio-education, simplexity, neuroscience and enactivism”. ESS. 4/1. 11-25. Gallese V. (2009a).  Neuroscienze e fenomenologia. In rete: (in Gallese V. (2009b). “Mirror Neurons, Embodied Simulation and the Neural Basis of Social Identification”. Psychoanalytic Dialogues. 19. 519–536.
Giaconi C. (2015). Qualità della vita e adulti con disabilità. Franco Angeli. Milano. Laurillard D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. Routledge. London. Lutzker P. (2014). “Attunement and Teaching”. ECER-2014.
Mareschal D., Butterworth B., Tolmie A. (2013). Educational Neuroscience. Wiley-Blackwell. London.
Poizat G., Salini D., Durand M. (2013). “Approche énactive de l’activité humaine, simplexité et conception de formations professionnelles”. ESS. 4/1. Rivoltella P.C. (2012). Neurodidattica. Cortina. Milano.
Rossi P.G. (2011). Didattica enattiva. Franco Angeli. Milano.
Rossi P.G, Fedeli L. (2015). “Personalization, Adaptivity, Attunement”. JE-LKS. 11/1. 11-24. Royal Society. (2011). Brain Waves Module 2: Neuroscience: implications for education and lifelong learning.
Vinatier I., Numa-Bocage L. (2007). “Prise en charge d’un enfant en diffculté de lecture par un maître spécialisé: gestion de l’intersubjectivité et schème de médiation didactique”. Revue française de pédagogie. 158, 85-101.