Portrait Michael Baker
Michael BakerResearch Professor

Repères biographiquesShort Biography

Michael J. Baker is a tenured Research Director/Professor in Language Sciences of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS: www.cnrs.fr). He currently works in the Social and Economic Sciences department of Télécom Paris, the French national graduate school for telecom engineering. He carries out interdisciplinary research (psychology/language sciences) on analysing dialogues in group learning, design and creativity situations, often involving technology mediation, focussing on constructive argumentation and the role of emotion.

He is currently co-director of the research group on uses of technology, participation and democratisation of innovation, within the CNRS lab « Interdisciplinary Institute on Innovation », which groups together the social and economic sciences departments of three engineering schools: Télécom Paris, École Polytechnique and École des Mines.

After studies in philosophy and psychology at the University of Durham (1st class honours, 1982; University Scholar, Gabbett prizes in philosophy, psychology), in music at the University of Huddersfield, then a PhD in cognitive science at the Open University (1990), he was awarded the habilitation à diriger des recherches in psychology in 2004 (a post-PhD degree required for a full professor position) for research on knowledge elaboration in dialogue.

Michael Baker has been visiting professor at the universities of Stockholm/KTH and Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

He directed research teams on interaction and cognition within language sciences research labs in Lyon (ENS, ICAR) and Paris (LEAPLE, Sorbonne ; MODYCO, University Paris Nanterre) before joining Télécom Paris in 2008.

Activités : enseignement, recherche, projetsActivities : Teaching, Research, Projects

Research aims

Michael Baker’s main research aim is to understand (analyse, interpret, model) the processes by which knowledge emerges from dialogue and the conditions that favour constructive/productive communicative, social interaction.

This is pursued in diverse « epistemic » situations, i.e. those that have been specifically organised (by society, by the researcher) for knowledge co-elaboration. These include situations for learning, training, creativity, collective writing and co-design of innovative products,  in small groups.

Many of the situations under study involve computer-mediated interaction, in two main cases:

  1. interactions in online epistemic communities, such as wikipedia (cf the book Innovation et participation. Approches critiques, Presses des Mines, 2018) ;
  2. interactions in CSCL (Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning) environments, specifically designed and developed within large projects financed by the European Union,  IST (Information Societies’ Technologies) programme (cf. see the book Arguing to Learn: confronting cognitions in computer supported collaborative learning environments, Kluwer, 2003).

Within this general framework, the following specific themes are explored:

  • analysing argumentative interactions (cf. the book Dialogue, Argumentation and Education, Cambridge University Press, 2017)
  • analysing the interactive circulation of affect (cf. the book Affective Learning Together, Routledge, 2013)
  • group creativity
  • intercultural variations in characteristics of small group interactions
  • the role of touch in social interaction

Michael Baker is an active member of the following research communities:

  • dialogue analysis
  • pragmatics
  • argumentation studies
  • computer-supported collaborative learning
  • psychology of interaction
  • collaborative design

Current projects (2020)

Teaching and PhD (co-)direction (2020)

  • Masters courses on « Collaborative Learning and Technology Mediation », Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UMPC, Paris 6), Université Clermont-Auvergne

Doctoral students supervised (2020)

  • Jaana Isohätäla (Université d’Oulu, Finlande)
  • Robin Héron (Télécom Paris)
  • Nathalie Labrousse (Université Paris Descartes)

Member of editorial board of research journals

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