Friday, November 28, 2014

Teacher Talk Enhances Learning

The 9th Australasian Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Conference (November 20th & 22nd), the University of Waikato.

When quantitative and qualitative research methods are used quite often it can result in better insights. In this case dual analysis appears to reinforce the COR Literacy Framework notion that teacher talk contributes to student learning at three levels.

I recently had the privilege of presenting at this conference held in Hamilton, New Zealand. Hamilton is a beautiful city situated along the Waikato River (see the river walk in the picture). The city's Hamilton Gardens, which won the International Garden of the Year - 2014 award for their internationally unique concept of telling 'The Story of Gardens' (in picture), is well worth a visit. Although New Zealand and Australia are close, I noticed many contrasting details. In Kiwiland the grass and the gum trees are greener and more uniform. The farms are neater with huge hedges instead of barbed wire fences enclosing them.

Associate Professor Rod Gardner (an accomplished author and researcher in the field of conversational analysis) and I presented some preliminary findings from our continuing research centred around the COR Literacy Framework. In the research project we video taped six small group lessons using three camcorders and two voice recorders. There were two teachers trained in using the COR Literacy Framework who consented to teach three small group lessons each. Some of the recordings have been transcribed and coded according to conversational analysis conventions. This methodology is quite a contrast to my previous research where my perspective has been from a cognitive psychology approach. The cognitive psychology methodology is primarily a top-down approach based on theoretical assumptions whereas the CA methodology is a bottom-up approach that attempts to make no prior assumptions but is more concerned with close observation of meaningful conversations.

The presentation of our ongoing research project was in two parts: I presented the background to the COR Literacy Framework and the research findings to date from a cognitive psychology perspective and Assoc. Prof. Gardner presented the preliminary findings using  the Conversational Analysis methodology.  One of the research questions was: Do good teachers focus their questions on the three COR levels: perception (factual), cognitive, and metacognitive? At this stage we are beginning to see that this is the case and that this happens in various ways and over relatively short segments of time and sometimes this can be over more extended segments.

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