Get Them Talking

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Science  28 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5982, pp. 1079
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5982.1079-b

Science education reform efforts have stressed the exchange of ideas in the classroom. However, classroom discussions can be problematic because of the increasing abstraction of scientific concepts, lack of student motivation, and lack of student awareness of how to engage in discourse. To better understand how high-school biology teachers and students engage in discussion and whether embedded curricular supports are sufficient for promoting inquiry-based discussions, Alozie et al. designed and enacted support curriculum materials in two urban U.S. high schools for 9th- and 10th-graders studying molecular genetics. Data collection consisted mainly of observing classroom dynamics and analyzing videotaped sessions to find out which discourse patterns teachers used, what types of discussion ensued, and which participant—teacher or student—initiated discussion. Results showed that although teachers did increase their attempts to engage in inquiry-based discussion practices when using a support curriculum, they still came back to the traditional pedagogy of telling, rather than encouraging classroom interactions, demonstrating that the curricular supports provided were not sufficient to shift the teachers' style.

Sci. Educ. 94, 395 (2010).

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