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BERA_London_2014
Developing an analytic coding scheme for classroom
dialogue across cultural and educational contexts
Sara Hennessy, Sylvia Rojas-Drummond, María José Barrera,
Mariana Alarcón, Nube Estrada, Rocío García Carrión,
Flora Hernández, José Harnández, Rupert Higham, Riikka
Hofmann, Christine Howe, Ruth Kershner, Karen Littleton, Ana
María Marquez, Fiona Maine, Neil Mercer, Haydée Pedraza, Rosa
María Ríos, Omar Torreblanca, Ana Laura Trigo, Paul Warwick
http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/analysingdialogue/
BERA, London
September 2014
Rationale & aims

International importance of understanding dialogue as a
prime tool for teaching and learning; offers both practical
benefits and insights into how people think collectively

Lack of a comprehensive, systematic and universallyapplicable framework for understanding how dialogue in
action is used as a tool for classroom teaching &
learning

Main aim is to design, test and share a methodological
tool for analysing dialogic interactions…

…to encompass a wide variety of classroom settings, age
groups, knowledge domains and sociocultural contexts,
including technology-mediated dialogue.
Sociocultural theory

Following Vygotsky, a sociocultural perspective
proposes that social interactions enable cognitive
development; so for example a child can learn to reason
alone by first engaging in collective reasoning with an
adult or peer (e.g. Rogoff, 1990).


Knowledge and meanings can be ‘co-constructed’ through
communicative practices.
This perspective highlights the importance of language
as both a cultural and psychological tool
(Daniels, 2003; Mercer 2000; Säljö, 1999; Vygotsky, 1978).

This means the structure and content of classroom talk
may be crucial for the quality of education.
Dialogic teaching-and-learning*

Harnesses the power of talk to stimulate and extend
children’s understanding, thinking and learning.

Promotes inquiry and joint construction of knowledge: it
builds on, elaborates and synthesises others’ ideas.

Engages in ‘social modes of thinking’ where reasoning can
be made visible to others.

Promotes equitable participation and sees all, including
teachers, as co-learners.

Is open, critical and constructive: it explores, compares
negotiates, and challenges different perspectives.
*(Alexander, 2008; Hennessy, Wariwck & Mercer, 2011; Howe & Mercer, 2012;
Higham et al., 2014; Littleton, & Howe,. 2010; Littleton & Mercer, 2007; Mercer,
2000; Rojas-Drummond & Mercer, 2003; Rojas-Drummond et al., 2010; Wegerif,
2007; Wells, 1999).
Dialogic teaching-and-learning

Involves teachers in open-ended questioning, feeding in
ideas, reflecting, comparing and interpreting ideas.

Encourages learners to: articulate and justify their own
points of view; appreciate and respond to others’ ideas;
take extended turns.

Opens up for all a dialogic space (Wegerif, 2007) where:
 new meanings emerge through attempting to understand others’
perspectives;
 everyone’s contribution is taken as important;
 ideas are not personal property in competition but are owned
and shaped by all.
‘Dialogic teaching-and-learning’
(Vygotsky 1978)
Primary vs.
Secondary
(Higham et al, 2013)
Research Objectives
1) DEVELOP comprehensive methodological tool to analyse
quality of dialogic interactions across educational settings
2) ILLUSTRATE with rich examples from observations across
cultural contexts: focusing initially on whole class and group
work in Mexico and UK schools, across subjects
3) ELABORATE generic scheme to cover use of digital
technology (interactive whiteboards, computers, tablets):
nonverbal + verbal dialogue (Hennessy, 2011)
4) APPLY methodological tool to broad databases:
microgenetic and longitudinal analyses of quality of
dialogue and effects on children’s learning
5) ADAPT scheme for teacher professional development in
both countries.
Illustration of hierarchical and nested categories
from the ethnography of communication
(Hymes, 1972; Saville-Troike, 2003)
Communicative
Acts (CA)
Communicative
Events (CE)
Communicative
Situation (CS)
Coding scheme for analysing dialogic teachingand-learning interactions

Unit of analysis = observable CAs in educational
contexts [e.g. provide counterargument, ask for
elaboration]

Scheme contains 33 CAs, classified in 5 functional
(mutually exclusive) clusters.

The scheme only codifies
utterances that contribute to
the dialogic interaction.
Evolution of clusters
Collective
Ask
Invitation
Reciprocal
Propose
Proposal
Supportive
Follow up
Dialogue
Cumulative
Link
Purposeful
Goals
Link
Metacognition
Evolution of clusters
Collective
Ask
Invitation
Reciprocal
Propose
Proposal
Supportive
Follow up
Dialogue
Cumulative
Link
Purposeful
Goals
Link
Metacognition
Coded Mexican excerpt
Agent
Writing about the prevalence of HIV in Mexico
Here are some data about HIV in Mexico
((proposing a way to write the text)).
C3
292
R
293
How can we say that something comes
next, what key word do we use?
C3
294
‘Lastly’ ((answering with a key word))
C1
295
No.
R
296
I don’t know, what do you think?
C3
297
‘Then’ ((suggesting another key word))
R
298
We have already talked about the good
and the bad news, now what?
299
‘Besides’ the good and the bad news we
have data ((proposing what they are going
to write))
C2
I1
Invite alternative
views
Invite Propose Dialog Link
P5
Make relevant
contribution
D2
Build on others'
contributions
D2
I1
L1
P5
I1
P5
I1
D9
D2
D9
Guide direction of
dialogue?
L1
Refer back
Meta
cog
UK video clip:
How do you get knowledge?
Coded English excerpt
Agent
Turn
How do you get knowledge?
C1
62
School is all about knowledge basically
D2
C3
63
But how did the first person of the world got
knowledge? … because Miss (Smith) says
that’s maths knowledge
D7
C1
64
[you know different things]
C2
65
C4
66
C2
67
and then told everybody else how to do it,
and eventually through time, it evolved
Yeah your parents teach you a lot of
knowledge because…
Because their parents taught them and then
their parents taught them
C3
68
My parents taught me how to cook [. . .]
C1
70
P1
Again, you are born with knowledge, you
are born with knowledge, because if you
are born with nothing, or maybe one thing
you might try and fly
P1
Explain or justify
reasoning or solution
P5
Make relevant
contribution
Invite Propose Dialog Link Metacog
D2
Build on others'
contributions
D2
P5
D2
D2
D2
P1
D7
Challenge view /
assumption
L3
D7
L3
Refer back
Conclusions

A ‘dialogic approach’ to investigating classroom
interaction helps us understand how teachers and
students co-construct knowledge.

An analytic scheme containing 33 codes describing
dialogic teaching-and-learning has been iteratively
developed, clustered and empirically tested

The CAs describe what participants may actually do
and say as part of ongoing dialogic interactions.

The scheme can serve as a useful research tool to
ground empirically the concept of ‘dialogic interaction’
in educational contexts…

…and to describe cultural differences. Added value of
research across 2 different country contexts.
Next Steps
Further empirical trialling is in progress
Other contexts: ICT uses, different subject domains,
developmental and education levels (pre-school to higher
education), typical/atypical populations (e.g. children with
Asperger’s syndrome), adults’ professional training. Chile.
Interactive digital version with expandable code definitions
An adapted version of the tool for use in initial and
continuing teacher education programmes, including video
exemplars & resources adapted to each country
 Global codes under development as frameworks that may
help to interpret sets of local CAs, eg “exploratory talk”, “coconstructive talk”, “extended questioning,” etc
Invitation to participate!
More info:
Sara Hennessy sch30@cam.ac.uk
Sylvia Rojas-Drummond silviar@unam.mx
http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/analysingdialogue/
including this PPT
References
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