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Characterising the dialogicity of classroom talk: theoretical and empirical perspectives

By Asma Salim Almahrouqi


The central focus of this study is to characterise classroom talk (CT) from the Dialogicity perspective and relate this characterisation to pupils‟ learning. It aims particularly to reflect on and develop the concept of Dialogicity as a theoretical perspective for characterising the nature of CT in relation to both teaching and learning. The study developed an analytical framework to analyse CT based on further characterising the Authoritative and Dialogic types of talk as defined by the communicative approach of Mortimer and Scott (2003). Data was generated by videotaping grade nine Omani science classes and probing the conceptual understanding of samples of pupils from these classes using bubble dialogue sheets and focus group discussions. This exploration was carried out in two stages separated by a short teacher training intervention designed to promote the practice of dialogic talk.\ud \ud The results demonstrated a quite big change in CT practice between the two stages, with more incidents of Dialogic talk in the second stage. Detailed analysis revealed a number of features characterising the Authoritative and Dialogic communicative approaches. Furthermore, it demonstrated different kinds of CT that were to be judged as Authoritative and others as Dialogic. This has resulted in viewing each type of talk along three general levels of high, mid and low. Consequently, the study has developed the communicative approach to a „multi-level Authoritative-Dialogic‟ model. Deeper reflection on this model, as characterising CT Dialogicity at the empirical level, led to propose the „less-more‟ dialogic model to approach CT Dialogicity at the theoretical level. The study argues that the continuity view of Dialogicity that this theoretical model is based on might be helpful in developing the concept of Dialogicity as a perspective in approaching the nature of CT.\ud \ud In investigating the relationship between CT Dialogicity and learning, the study looked into learning as a process and as a product. General results pointed to the superiority of Dialogic talk in supporting pupils‟ learning over Authoritative talk, in the terms of pupils‟ engagement, cognitive level of questions and responses and the conceptual understanding following from the teaching. However, the study argues that it is not possible to establish a constant claim on this superiority because the comparison between the two types can be approached differently, depending upon which of their levels are being compared. Alternatively, it suggests that the relationship between CT Dialogicity and learning is better approached in the light of the continuity view within the „less-more‟ dialogic model. Accordingly, different claims on the advantages of more dialogic talk over less dialogic in supporting pupils‟ learning have been suggested. In addition, the results illustrated a resonance between the pupils‟ conceptual understanding and difficulties and what happened in the preceding teaching.\ud \ud In summarising the relationship between CT Dialogicity, teaching and learning, the study asserts that learning is closely connected to the CT characterisation from the Dialogicity perspective, and does not stand in isolation from teaching. Different implications for research and teacher training have been raised in view of the study‟s methodological practices and findings

Publisher: School of Education (Leeds)
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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