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Pupil perspectives on whole class discussions in the key stage 2 primary classroom

Date: 7 June 2006 Time: 3.30 -5.00pm

Pupil perspectives on Whole Class Discussions in the Key Stage 2 Primary Classroom

Laura Black University of Manchester

Venue: County South B45

Time: 3.30 to 5.00

All Welcome - for further details contact Ann-Marie Houghton,


I will present findings from a small project, funded by my department at Manchester, which has investigated Year 5 children's perceptions of classroom talk and their own participation in whole class discussions. The project has two key aims:

To investigate the match between pupil perceptions of the role, function and purpose of teacher-pupil talk and those of the teacher and institution. E.g. whilst the institution (teachers, policymakers etc.) may portray classroom discussions as a useful pedagogic tool for fostering understanding, many pupils typically see such discussions as situations where they are being tested (Denvir & Askew 2001).

To investigate pupil understanding of their identity with reference to their position and status in classroom discussions and compare them with institutional expectations and the understanding of the teacher. E.g. evidence from my PhD research indicated that whilst some pupils see themselves as regular and competent participants in whole class discussions others struggle to accept the oppressive nature of the teacher-pupil relationship which positions them in a highly passive role.

The theoretical context for the project is based in socio-cultural theory which views learning as a process of identity (re-) construction through participation in social practice (Wenger 1998, Holland et al 1998). My rationale for focusing on teacher-pupil talk is that it acts as a key mediating tool in the classroom because it regulates the extent to which pupils can negotiate the concepts, representations and methods of a specific knowledge domain (Mercer 2000, 1995) and therefore, 'become' a learner of the relevant discipline. The intention is to understand the ways in which children conceptualise this process and the cultural models they draw on in describing their own participation.


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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