Faculty Publications

Analysis of Discourse Practices in Elementary Science Classrooms using Argument-Based Inquiry During Whole-Class Dialogue

Document Type

Book Chapter

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Approaches and Strategies in Next Generation Science Learning

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This chapter discusses an analysis of discourse practices found in eight different elementary science classrooms that have implemented the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) approach to argument-based inquiry. The analysis for this study involved examining a segment of whole-class talk that began after a small group presented its claim and evidence and ended when the discussion moved on to a new topic, or when a different group presented. The framework for the analysis of this whole-class dialogue developed through an iterative process that was first informed by previous analysis, review and modification of other instruments, and notable anomalies of difference from this data set. Each classroom was then rated using the Reform Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP), which provided a score for the extent to which the teacher was engaged with reform-based science teaching practices. Our analysis shows that elements of whole-class dialogue in argument-based inquiry classrooms were different across varying levels of RTOP implementation. Overall, low level RTOP implementation (little evidence of reformed-based practice) had a question and answer format during whole class talk that rarely included discourse around scientific reasoning and justification. Higher levels of RTOP implementation were more likely to be focused on student use of scientific evidence to anchor and develop a scientific understanding of “big ideas” in science. These findings are discussed in relation to teacher professional development in argument-based inquiry, science literacy, and the teacher’s and students’ grasp of science practice.


Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy

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