A Dialogic Teaching Approach: Talk Moves to Deepen Students’ Understanding in the Geography Classroom, pp. 3 of 12

This research study on the patterns of interaction in the Singapore classroom is specific to geography. It seeks to examine whether the quality of interactions in the classroom are better by looking at two types of lessons with the same teacher and same class and how the quality of interactions in the classroom differ when the teacher or student leads.


The study was carried out in an average mainstream school in Singapore. One teacher was selected along with a secondary one express class with 15 students. A video camera was set up at the back of the classroom to capture the transactions occurring in the classroom. The various lesson segments were broken-down into two different teaching approaches – teacher-directed teaching and student-initiated teaching. The recordings were transcribed verbatim and served as primary sources of data for the research.

The analysis was guided by Mortimer & Scott’s framework to analyse how teachers guide students in meaning making and knowledge construction through talk in the classroom (2003). The framework looks at 5 key aspects (see full details in Mortimer & Scott, 2003) with particular focus on the role of the teacher and is categorised into 3 main themes – the teaching focus, approach and action (Refer to table 1).

Table 1: The analytical framework: A tool for analysing meaning making interactions in classrooms

Aspect of analysis

i) Focus

1. Teaching purpose

2. Content

ii) Approach

3. Communicative approach

iii) Action

4. Teacher interventions

5. Patterns of interactions

I focused on two aspects in the analysis – 1) communicative approach and 2) patterns of interactions. The concept of “communicative approach” provides an avenue to analyse how the teacher guides the students to construct ideas in the classroom. The different classes of communicative approach are denoted based on whether the classroom rhetoric is authoritative/dialogic in nature and whether it is interactive/noninteractive (Mortimer & Scott, 2003, p. 33). I also drew on Chin’s work (2006) to break down the exchanges in the interaction discourse into four main components: 1) the form of the utterance/move (I, R or F structure), 2) type of utterances (whether the utterance is in the form of a question Q, answer A, statement S, comment C), 3) purpose of utterance representing the function in that discourse move (reply, recall, elicit, clarify, probe, etc.) and 4) the type of cognitive process (hypothesise, predict, evaluate, etc.) which indicates the thinking processes linked with student’s responses.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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