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Title: Teachers thinking about and using peer group discussion in primary science
Authors: Hewitt, Elizabeth
Supervisors: Burgess, Hilary
Fox, Alison
Award date: 7-Sep-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The teaching of primary science is a demanding enterprise and teachers are encouraged to use peer group discussion tasks in order to engage pupils and support the development of understanding. However, drawing on this strategy and exploiting the power of group talk in science is challenging. The principal aim of embarking on my research was to seek understandings of the routine ways in which primary teachers are able to facilitate productive group talk. This exploratory, qualitative case study incorporates a structured examination of classroom practice with regard to peer group discussion. The participants were three teachers from different English primary schools and their classes of 8-9 year olds. The fieldwork was conducted over the course of an academic year and interviews were carried out with teachers at the beginning and end of this phase. Observations of classroom practice were made at regular intervals through the year and audio recording of pupils’ group discussions were taken. Based on the premise that exploring teacher thinking provides a useful tool for understanding how teachers navigate tricky areas of practice, such as facilitating productive peer group talk in science, oral diaries were used to capture the post lesson reflections of teachers. Alongside these methods, group interviews revealed pupil perspectives on the learning through talk. Rich descriptions of classroom practice woven with participant perspectives reveal situated understandings of teachers and pupils using group talk in science and they illuminate the wide-ranging implicit challenges faced. This story of teachers’ shifting epistemological beliefs through the routine use of peer group discussion provides a contribution to knowledge by extending our understanding of some factors which may constrain and promote routine talk opportunities in science. The research findings have implications for professional development programmes which aim to promote dialogic pedagogy in primary science classrooms.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Education
Leicester Theses

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