Exploring Differences in Students' Engagement in Literature Discussions

Year: 2002

Author: Godinho, Sally, Shrimpton, Brad

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Anecdotal evidence on the widening literacy achievement gap between boys and girls suggests that boys are disadvantaged by their reluctance to communicate and explore their feelings and ideas through talk. This paper, which is a work in progress, discusses the preliminary findings of a research project funded by an Early Career Researcher Grant from the University of Melbourne to explore gender differences in the way children engage in small group literature discussions. The school settings chosen for the study ensured that student participants were representative of a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds. Emergent findings discussed in this paper include: the significance of teacher expectations in ensuring equal participation of boys and girls in literature discussion; specific discourse patterns used by teachers that enhance the students' level of engagement in the discussion process; and the influence that students' socio-cultural backgrounds have on the way teachers framed the literature discussion to meet student needs. Clips from the video-taped literature discussions, teacher interviews and student interviews will be used to support the study's emergent findings.