Student thought and classroom language: Examining the mechanisms of change in dialogic teaching

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Dialogue, as a communication form characterized by its commitment to inclusiveness and rationality, has long been advocated by educators as a mechanism for helping students become better thinkers. Unfortunately, numerous claims about the educational potential of participating in dialogue have not resulted in substantial changes in classroom practices. Studies have consistently shown that in today's schools the dominant discourse remains largely monologic. In this article, we present a testable theory of change that suggests how sociocultural processes in a dialogic classroom influence students' development.We identify and discuss three learning outcomes of dialogic teaching, including epistemological understanding, argument skills, and disciplinary knowledge. We then critically review empirical research related to the proposed theory, highlighting unsolved questions, inconsistencies, and directions for future studies. Finally, we focus on the implications of the proposed integrated theory and reviewed research for teachers and their language use in a classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-133
Number of pages20
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


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