“Dialogic teaching is distinct from the question-answer-tell routines of so-called ‘interactive’ teaching, aiming to be more consistently searching and more genuinely reciprocal and cumulative” says Professor Robin Alexander . According to Alexander it requires:
interactions which encourage students to think, and to think in different ways
questions which invite much more than simple recall
answers which are justified, followed up and built upon rather than merely received
feedback which informs and leads thinking forward as well as encourages
contributions which are extended rather than fragmented
exchanges which chain together into coherent and deepening lines of enquiry
discussion and argumentation which probe and challenge rather than unquestioningly accept
professional engagement with subject matter which liberates classroom discourse from the safe and conventional
classroom organisation, climate and relationships which make all this possible
It is claimed that it helps the teacher more precisely to diagnose students’ needs, frame their learning tasks and assess their progress.
The proposition is that by engaging in genuine dialogue with others, individuals can operate at a higher level of thinking than would be possible on their own. So ‘dialogic teaching’, emphasises dialogue through which pupils learn to reason, discuss, argue, and explain in order to develop their higher order thinking as well as their articulacy.( so, think, Socractic Dialogue!)
The Education Endowment Foundation has recently completed an evaluation of a Dialogic Teaching intervention. The aim of the intervention was to raise levels of engagement and attainment across English, maths, and science in primary schools by improving the quality of teacher and pupil talk in the classroom. The intervention was developed and delivered by a team from the Cambridge Primary Review Trust (CPRT) and the University of York. Year 5 teachers in 38 schools, and a teacher mentor from each school, received resources and training from the delivery team, and then implemented the intervention over the course of the autumn and spring terms in the 2015/2016 school year. Following the intervention, pupils were tested in English, mathematics, and science. This efficacy trial compared the 38 schools (2,492 pupils) in which the intervention took place with 38 control schools (2,466 pupils). During the intervention, the evaluation team also carried out a survey and interviews with a sample of teachers, mentors, and heads, plus case-study visits to three intervention schools
- Children in Dialogic Teaching schools made two additional months’ progress in English and science, and one additional month’s progress in maths, compared to children in control schools, on average. The three padlock security rating means we are moderately confident that this difference was due to the intervention and not to other factors.
- Children eligible for free school meals (FSM) made two additional months’ progress in English, science, and maths compared to FSM children in control schools. The smaller number of FSM pupils in the trial limits the security of this result.
- The intervention was highly regarded by headteachers, mentors, and teachers who thought that the Dialogic Teaching approach had positive effects on pupil confidence and engagement.
- The majority of participating teachers felt that it would take longer than two terms to fully embed a Dialogic Teaching approach in their classrooms. It could therefore be valuable to test the impact of the intervention over a longer period.
- This intervention requires teachers to change classroom talk across the curriculum, supported by training, handbooks, video, and regular review meetings with mentors. Future research could aim to differentiate the effects of these different elements.
EEF Dialogic Teaching Evaluation report and executive summary
July 2017- Independent evaluators: Professor Tim Jay, Ben Willis, Dr Peter Thomas, Dr Roberta Taylor, Dr Nick Moore, Professor Cathy Burnett, Professor Guy Merchant, Anna Stevens