Exploring Elementary School Children’s Classroom Dynamic Discussion Processes: The Role of Background Knowledge
Despite there are new waves of interest looking into the patterns and quality of classroom discourse, the issues of how background knowledge of the topic in discussion affect classroom discourse have received little attention from researchers. Therefore, this study reports on findings from a comparison of the patterns of classroom discourse after reading and discussing in high versus low background knowledge conditions. Two fifth grade classes with 28 students each and 2 experienced teachers were recruited. All of the class discourse were digitally recorded, transcribed and then coded by two raters. Lag sequential analysis was applied to explore the dynamics of the discourse patterns. Some common and distinctive patterns were found for these two conditions. In general, simple questions tend to trigger simple answers. There were many social interactions in both conditions as well. The differences between the two conditions of discussion are: there were less argumentations and rebuttals; there were more questions but lower quality answers; and there were more interactions between explanations, argumentations, and other behaviors of discussion in the low background knowledge conditions. Based on the findings, theoretical and instructional implications were discussed.