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Teacher interventions in small group work in secondary mathematics and science lessons

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Collaborative problem solving, when students work in pairs or small groups on a curriculum-related task, has become an increasingly common feature of classroom education and is a core feature of dialogic teaching and learning. This paper reports a study on a topic which has received relatively little attention: how teachers can most usefully mediate students’ discussions and thinking during small-group work. The data used comes from a large scale study of mathematics and science teaching through dialogic methods in secondary schools in South East England, in which interactions between teachers and students were recorded in their usual classrooms. We describe the different ways teachers were observed to intervene during students’ small-group discussions. We further examine and theorise the kinds of situations in which teachers employ these different kinds of strategies. Finally, we will discuss the implications for supporting students’ learning, and pedagogic and professional change.

This talk is part of the Psychology & Education series.

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