ERIC Number: ED456458
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001
Taking Risks, Negotiating Relationships: One Teacher's Transition towards a Dialogic Classroom. CELA Research Report.
Christoph, Julie Nelson; Nystrand, Martin
Building on previous work that showed the importance of discussion for teaching literature and that discussion in low-achieving high school English classes is particularly infrequent (Nystrand, 1997), this study investigated a low-achieving class that featured regular discussions to gain insights into how dialogically organized instruction emerged within the context of a traditional recitation instructional setting, further complicated by poverty and linguistic diversity. Using a combination of grounded theory (Strauss, 1987) and conversation analysis, for 18 weeks the researchers observed a ninth-grade English class in a Midwestern inner-city high school, the majority of whose students were Hispanic. Though the profile of classroom discourse was typical of that found in most American high schools using a dominant IRE (Initiation--Response--Evaluation) pattern, the teacher sought to open up her classroom; she characterized herself as a teacher in transition. To investigate the dimensions of this transition, the researchers conducted 51 observations during the spring semester, observing 14 discussions, or instructional conversations (Tharp and Gallimore, 1988). The study documents three key strategies that the teacher used in her efforts to make such discussions possible: developing an ethos of involvement and respect, using scaffolding and specific ways of phrasing questions to encourage (and discourage) discussion, and, most importantly, acknowledging and making space for the presence of students' interpersonal relationships. This study shows that dialogic discourse can happen when teachers are adept at linking--and enabling links between--academic objectives and student concerns that often originate beyond both the classroom and the school. (Contains 46 references, a figure, and 3 notes. Appendixes contain definitions of key variables, details of discussions analyzed, and transcription conventions.) (Author/RS)
Descriptors: Classroom Environment, Discourse Analysis, Discussion (Teaching Technique), English Instruction, Grade 9, High Schools, Literature Appreciation, Low Achievement, Scaffolding (Teaching Technique), Teacher Behavior, Urban Education
National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222. Web site: http://cela.albany.edu. For full text: http://cela.albany.edu/christoph01-3/index.html.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, Albany, NY.