Finding student-student interaction during whole-class talk in literacy lessons

Year: 2016

Author: Davidson, Christina, Edwards-Groves, Christine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Decades of classroom research establishes the predominance of teacher questioning and teacher evaluation of student responses to questions in whole-class lessons (Alexander, 2008; Freebody, Ludwig & Gunn, 1995; Mehan, 1985). The initiation-response-evaluation (IRE) talk structure massively constitutes classroom lessons but has been extensively criticised for the limited talk options that it occasions for students (Edwards-Groves & Hoare, 2015; Kamberelis, McGinley, & Welker, 2015; Reznitskaya, 2012). This paper draws on practitioner action research projects of twelve teachers and examines talk recorded in whole-class literacy lessons where primary teachers deliberately sought to promote student talk. We examine several sequences representative of a corpus of student-student talk produced in lessons involving written texts. In each sequence, talk is initiated by teacher questioning but is followed by talk produced by a number of students. Using conversation analysis, we delineate how teacher interaction provided for student-student talk, the ways students produced next-turn talk as relevant following previous talk by another student, and how teachers resumed talk following student-student interactions. Our analysis informs a discussion of the possibilities for promoting talk that enables students to manage and extend their own participation in literacy lessons beyond individual responses to teacher talk and responses that are limited frequently to information recall. Implications are considered for practitioner researchers seeking to change interactional practices to promote thinking and literacy learning and for how literacy pedagogies are produced through interaction.ReferencesAlexander, R. J. (2008). Towards dialogic teaching: Rethinking classroom talk (4th Ed.). York: Dialogos.Edwards-Groves, C. J., & Hoare, R. L. (2015). “Talking to learn”: Focussing teacher education on dialogue as core practice for teaching and learning. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(8), 81-100.Freebody, P., Ludwig, C., & Gunn, S. (1995). Everyday literacy practices in and out of schools in low socio-economic urban communities: A descriptive and interpretive research program. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training.Kamberelis, G., McGinley, W., & Welker, A. (2015). Literature discussions as mangles of practice. Sociological theories of emergence and/in dialogic learning events. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 3, 98-129. DOI:, H. (1985). The structure of classroom discourse. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 119-131). London: Academic Press.Reznitskaya, A. (2012). Dialogic teaching: Rethinking language use during literature discussions. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 446-456.