Date of Award

8-2008

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Literacy Education

Advisor

Janice V. Kristo

Second Committee Member

Richard Kent

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth Allan

Abstract

Classroom discussion of literature is often lauded as a powerful pedagogical tool in the high school English classroom. Researchers have shown that student talk in the classroom is a powerful teaching strategy. Many teachers express a belief in classroom discussions as a means of teaching literature. At the same time, relatively few teachers actually use classroom discussions of literature in their teaching. Research has identified that student talk in the classroom is a powerful pedagogical tool, and also that such discussions are difficult for many classroom teachers to enact. Little research has explored why teachers might have this disconnect. Teachers believe that classroom discussions are good for students and for their practice, yet they don't use this strategy in the classroom. This study looks at one teacher who believes that classroom discussions of literature should be a powerful teaching tool, but who has struggled to effectively actualize this practice in his classroom. A combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses of the teacher's statements beliefs and his practices, as seen in classroom transcripts and student work, was conducted to determine what the teacher believes to be the attributes of a good classroom discussion, and what he did, inside and outside the classroom, to foster discussions with such attributes. Results identified successful practices that the teacher named and was aware of as well as successful practices that seemed to be invisible to the teacher himself. The findings suggest that the way teachers talk about classroom discussions may fail to give voice to all the aspects of classroom talk that they actually value. In addition, it is suggested that additional research is needed that involves teachers looking at classroom practice with a researcher's lens.

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