Talk Factory: supporting 'exploratory talk' around an interactive whiteboard in primary school science plenaries

Kerawalla, Lucinda; Petrou, Marilena and Scanlon, Eileen (2012). Talk Factory: supporting 'exploratory talk' around an interactive whiteboard in primary school science plenaries. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 22(1) 89 -102.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2012.745049

Abstract

Previous research into enhancing children’s educational dialogues during group work has recognised the role of teachers in modelling dialogue and guiding their students’ engagement in reasoning. Whole-class plenaries also offer teachers such opportunities but the technological support of dialogue in plenaries remains relatively unexplored. Our comparative study evaluated teachers’ use of Talk Factory – innovative software designed to model and represent students’ engagement with the ground rules of exploratory talk in science plenaries. Our qualitative analysis compares the dialogue during lessons taught by two teachers where Talk Factory was used, with previous lessons by the same teachers where it was not used. We found that the nature of the dialogue in the intervention classes changed considerably: instead of plenaries characterised by unsubstantiated responses from students, the teachers used TF to mediate their students’ exploration, and challenge, of each others’ ideas. We explore the significance of these findings in respect of practice-based implications and future research.

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