04 SES 05 B, Inclusive Communication and Interaction
Classroom dialogue constitutes a large part of classroom work and providing possibilities for pupils’ active participation in classroom dialogues has shown to be important for pupils’ learning (Gillies, 2014; Ruiz-Primo, 2011). However, pupils in special education classes are seldom provided with opportunities for active participation in classroom discussions (Bunning, Smith, Kennedy et al., 2013). Besides, instruction in special education classrooms is less conceptually oriented than instruction in general education classrooms (Jackson & Neel, 2006). There is a dearth of studies concerning classroom dialogue in special education. In a recent review of studies, only six studies including pupils with disabilities were identified (Howe & Aberdin, 2013). This study aims to contribute to the research on classroom dialogue in special education classes by studying patterns of teacher’s discourse in two special education classes.
The study draws on a sociocultural perspective on teaching and learning, viewing dialogue as an important context for pupil learning (Mortimer & Scott, 2003). Classroom dialogue has often been described in terms of initiation-response-evaluation sequence (IRE) or initiation-response-feedback sequence (IRF) (Cazden, 2001; Edwards & Westgate, 1994). This sequence has been used to criticize the dominance of teacher talk in the classroom and the teachers’ use of questions to get predetermined answers. During recent years, this sequence has been questioned and alternatives to the sequence emerged, indicating that the pupils’ answers do not have to followed by a teacher’ evaluation, but rather by teacher’s questions or other communicative moves to develop pupils’ thinking (Mortimer & Scott, 2003; Ruiz-Primo et al., 2011). Thus, the third move in the IRE/IRF sequence is emphasized.
In research on classroom discourse, the importance of teacher questions in eliciting students’ responses is underscored (Chin, 2007; Franke, Webb, Chan, Ing, Freund, & Battey, 2009). Reflecting the cognitive level and content of teacher questions, the questions have been described as display or referential (Wu, 2003), general or specific questions (Franke et al., 2009), convergent or divergent questions (Jiang, 2014). It is assumed that questions that promote pupils’ thinking and conceptual understanding are beneficial in classroom dialogue. Teachers’ actions upon students’ responses are important in stimulating classroom dialogue. Teachers may use questions to draw on pupils’ ideas to develop conceptual understanding through classroom talk (Chin, 2007). However, the teachers’ contributions are not only limited to questions, and include repeating or rephrasing pupils’ answers to promote classroom discussion (Gibbons, 2003; Haneda, 2009; Louca et al., 2012). Although rephrasing pupils’ answers in classroom dialogue is a strategy, often used by teachers, it can reduce pupils’ possibilities to participate in the dialogue (Gibbons, 2003). With regard to the complexities of classroom dialogue, described above, this study aims to explore patterns of teacher classroom discourse in two special education classes. The aim is specified in three research questions: (a) What types of questions are used by the teachers to elicit students responses? (b) What actions do teachers undertake upon receiving pupils’ responses to promote discussion in the classroom? (c) What actions do teachers undertake upon receiving pupils’ incorrect responses to develop pupils’ understanding?
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