Enriching teaching and fostering students’ participation through dialogue

Enriching Teaching and Fostering Students’ Participation through Dialogue

Juliano Camillo – Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC)
Leonardo Lago – University of Cambridge 
Cristiano Mattos – Universidade de São Paulo (USP)



Educational research into classroom discourse has shown the prevalence of teacher talk and control; questions are predominantly closed or factual, students' responses often do not exceed three words, and teachers’ feedback is mainly about correctness. As the potential of the verbal interactions for learning is not usually fulfilled, researchers have proposed strategies to make classroom dialogue richer, more meaningful, and inclusive. In this context, the term dialogic teaching has been coined to characterize an approach where teachers open up spaces for students to engage in dialogic interactions, working on their own ideas, on their own terms, while collaboratively building on each other’s ideas. Empirical research has provided evidence that through dialogue students can learn more about the topic under study, retain the learning gains for longer times, and develop reasoning skills.

Since this approach is not widespread and considered in the Brazilian educational context, this project consists of a classroom-based intervention focused on the development of teachers’ dialogic practices facilitated by a school-based teacher professional development program. We aim to study what happens when teachers engage in a one-year program comprised of eight formative meetings—four meetings facilitated by researchers and four led by teachers, in a fashion of co-inquiry into practice. Meeting themes include the description of strategies to foster dialogue and equitable participation and the use of video analysis or transcriptions as tools for professional development.

We will be working with up to 30 teachers from 6-8 schools located in the north of Santa Catarina. In two of those schools, an in-depth study will be conducted in order to collect richer and more contextual qualitative data. This includes multiples interviews with different agents (teachers, students, supervisors and headteachers), multiple visits for participant observation, and the application of an instrument to assess students' learning.

The data to be collected will answer three research questions. Interviews and written evidence produced during the formative meetings will comprise the set of data to address the first research question: how do teachers conceptualize the role of dialogue in teaching-and-learning? 

The second set of data consists of the whole-class talk from three lessons of each participating teacher. These lessons will be videorecorded, transcribed, and systematically coded according to categories relevant to dialogic interactions. Comparisons of the codes’ frequencies (pre and post intervention) and the analysis of written materials will provide evidence to answer the second research question, about the development of teachers’ practice. 

The number and quality of turns of talk coming from the students and identification of who is talking will provide evidence to address the third question—related to student participation. Moreover, an instrument to measure written argumentation skills will capture student learning.


Research questions

  1. How do teachers conceptualize the use of dialogue in their teaching practice? Do these conceptualizations change throughout the intervention? If so, how?
  2. a) What happens to teachers’ practice when they engage in the TPD program for dialogue? b) To what extent do teachers include students’ voices in the classroom discourse and develop their ideas through dialogue throughout the intervention? 
  3. a) What happens to the students’ experience (learning, participation, and perception) when teachers employ dialogic strategies for teaching? b) To what extent does student participation change throughout the intervention? (The number of the turns of talk coming from the students; the extension of each turn of talk and the identification of who is talking form the evidence)

Video: ENG Juliano and Leonardo

Video: Port Juliano e Leonardo

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