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There have been efforts to investigate the link between classroom talk and student achievement for some time. However, studies considering individual student participation in classroom talk have thus far been rare. The research reported in this study was carried out on 639 ninth grade students at Czech middle schools. Observations took place in language arts lessons; talk time and the number of utterances with reasoning were recorded for each student. Achievement was measured using a standardized reading literacy test. The results confirmed a strong link between a given student's talk time and number of utterances featuring reasoning and that student's achievement. As for student talk time, a connection at the classroom level was also identified-students in talkative classrooms had better results. However, there was not a connection between utterances with reasoning and better results at the classroom level. A positive link between individual participation and achievement was observed in all students regardless of socioeconomic background or gender.
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Learning and Instruction
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Do those who talk more learn more? The relationship between student
classroom talk and student achievement
Klara Sedova
, Martin Sedlacek, Roman Svaricek, Martin Majcik, Jana Navratilova,
Anna Drexlerova, Jakub Kychler, Zuzana Salamounova
Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Arna Novaka 1, 602 00, Brno, Czech Republic
There have been efforts to investigate the link between classroom talk and student achievement for some time. However, studies considering individual student
participation in classroom talk have thus far been rare. The research reported in this study was carried out on 639 ninth grade students at Czech middle schools.
Observations took place in language arts lessons; talk time and the number of utterances with reasoning were recorded for each student. Achievement was measured
using a standardized reading literacy test.
The results confirmed a strong link between a given student's talk time and number of utterances featuring reasoning and that student's achievement. As for
student talk time, a connection at the classroom level was also identified – students in talkative classrooms had better results. However, there was not a connection
between utterances with reasoning and better results at the classroom level. A positive link between individual participation and achievement was observed in all
students regardless of socio-economic background or gender.
1. Introduction
In recent decades, classroom talk and its contribution to learning
have become a key topic in the educational sciences, as well as in
philosophy (Kennedy, 2014), psychology (Marková, 2003), sociology
(Gurevitch, 2001), and linguistics (Skidmore & Murakami, 2012). There
is relatively wide agreement in the scientific community that there is a
relationship among talking, thinking, and learning (Resnick, Asterhan,
& Clarke, 2017). This assumption has given rise to a range of concepts
collectively referred to as dialogue-intensive or talk-intensive pedago-
gies (Snell & Lefstein, 2018;Wilkinson, Murphy, & Binici, 2015). These
concepts share the fundamental premise that good teaching encourages
students to actively participate in classroom discourse.
In talk-intensive pedagogies, students speak often, and their utter-
ances are long and elaborate and include reasoning words; the utter-
ances are clearly directed to others; teachers ask open-ended questions
that encourage thinking; students do not repeat memorized facts but
argue and engage in thoughtful activity; teachers are responsive to
students, paying attention to students’ thoughts, building on them, and
developing them; and students listen to each other, asking questions
and having discussions (compare, for example, Alexander, 2006;Lyle,
2008;Lefstein & Snell, 2014).
There have been efforts to collect valid research evidence of any
changes in student achievement relating to the quality of classroom
dialogue (see van der Veen & van Oers, 2017). However, it has been
repeatedly pointed out that more studies of this kind are needed (Howe
& Abedin, 2013;Resnick et al., 2017). The aim of this study is therefore
to examine, in natural classroom environments of Czech middle
schools, the hypothesis that active student participation in classroom
talk may be connected with better student achievement.
1.1. Theoretical background
The interest in how students participate in classroom talk is
grounded in sociocultural theory, especially as it was presented by
Vygotsky. Vygotsky (1978) postulated that each psychological function
appears twice in a child's development – first on the social level (i.e., as
the child interacts with other people) and only later on an individual
level (in the form of internalized psychological processes). He believed
that speech and thought are closely interlinked and that children can
internalize and integrate what they have been able to talk about
(Vygotsky, 1978). It follows from this thesis that as more opportunities
for communication are created, children's internalization of knowledge
could become both faster and of a higher quality. The assumption that
communicating and thinking are closely related is widely accepted by
the scientific community. Sfard (2008) used the term commognition,
coined as a blend of communication and cognition, to emphasize the
indivisibility of these phenomena. Sfard (2008), with reference to Vy-
gotsky, understood learning as a way of participating in a certain dis-
course. The Vygotskian perspective implies that language can be used
Received 28 May 2018; Received in revised form 23 May 2019; Accepted 8 June 2019
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (K. Sedova).
Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
0959-4752/ © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
as a tool in service of intellectual development. This notion necessarily
raises the question of how to handle talk in schooling (Resnick et al.,
2017) – how to implement talk-intensive pedagogies in real classrooms.
It is simultaneously necessary to find research evidence that could
support the theory on which talk-intensive pedagogies are based. The
aim of this study is to provide some such evidence.
1.2. Research on the relationship between classroom talk and student
Generally, there are three kinds of research studies designed to
present evidence concerning the relationship between classroom talk
and student outcomes: case studies of a particular teacher in a parti-
cular class, intervention studies, and correlational large-scale studies.
All of them have tremendous potential to extend our knowledge of the
studied phenomena.
A number of case studies have been conducted investigating the
effects of talk-intensive discourse facilitated by a particular teacher in a
particular class (for example Billings & Fitzgerald, 2002;Kutnick &
Colwell, 2010;Mercer & Littleton, 2007;Scott, Ametller, Mortimer, &
Emberton, 2010;Forman, Ramirez-DelToro, Brown, & Passmore, 2017).
These studies have provided valuable insights into the potential of talk
and language to intensify learning. Yet, their results cannot simply be
taken as a reflection of how teaching in accordance with talk-intensive
pedagogies works at school in general, as these studies usually focus on
exceptionally competent and motivated teachers.
Intervention studies have been undertaken to implement a change
towards talk-intensive teaching and monitor its effects on student
learning (see, e.g., Reznitskaya et al., 2001;Andreassen & Bråten, 2011;
Kiemer, Gröschner, Pehmer, & Seidel, 2015;O'Connor et al., 2015;
Furtak et al., 2016;van der Veen, de Mey, van Kruistum, & van Oers,
2017;Alexander, 2018). It is quite difficult to summarize the findings
from these studies as they varied considerably – students were of dif-
ferent ages, interventions were done in different courses, and different
outcomes were measured.
These studies have indicated that classroom
discourse characteristics changed as a result of intervention and student
outcomes also subsequently increased (at least partially).
Other studies failed to confirm these links – there were no convin-
cing changes in classroom talk and/or in student outcomes. Murphy,
Wilkinson, Soter, and Hennessey (2009) carried out a meta-analysis of
42 intervention studies conducted in literacy classrooms and noted that
there was typically an increase in the proportion of student talk and a
decrease in the proportion of teacher talk, which is in accordance with
talk-intensive pedagogies. However, this change in classroom talk was
not always related to improved reading comprehension test results. This
implies that findings from intervention studies have not yet provided
clear answers to the question of whether talk-intensive pedagogies are
connected with better student achievement.
The third type of research conducted to explore the link between
classroom talk and student achievement is represented by correlational
large-scale studies. These studies have extraordinary potential to ad-
vance the understanding of the workings of educational dialogue in
authentic classroom situations, as they are able to capture all kinds of
naturally occurring forms of classroom talk as well as variability in
learning outcomes. We will discuss this type of study in more detail
Nystrand, Gamoran, Kachur, and Prendergast (1997) tested more
than 1100 eighth and ninth graders in language arts lessons. The stu-
dents’ understanding of literature was tested with a written examina-
tion and essay. In addition, classes were observed to determine the time
devoted to discussion, authentic questions, uptake, and high-level
evaluation. The results of the study were not entirely unambiguous:
they identified a positive effect from the observed characteristics on
student test scores for the eighth graders but not for the ninth graders.
A similar study was later repeated by Applebee, Langer, Nystrand,
and Gamoran (2003). It involved 974 students of different ages in
language arts lessons. The same classroom discourse variables were
observed as in the previous research. Testing took place through pro-
ductive written assignments. The analysis indicated a clear positive link
between classroom talk features and student performance.
McElhone (2012) carried out a study on 495 students in fourth and
fifth grade in reading lessons. Achievement was measured through a
reading comprehension test. The study identified high frequency con-
ceptual press—a pattern involving responses to student contributions
with requests for clarification and elaboration—to be a key feature of
classroom discourse. The study also investigated the opposite pattern of
reducing conceptual press, in which the teacher simplifies and narrows
the original question, prompts the student, answers the question
themselves, or asks for a response from a student other than the one
previously called on. The results demonstrated that the pattern of re-
duced conceptual press was negatively related to results on reading
comprehension tests; the results for the high conceptual press pattern
were not statistically significant.
Michener (2014) examined a sample of 236 students in third to fifth
grade. Teaching was observed and students were given reading com-
prehension tests. Multilevel modeling indicated a positive impact
stemming from teacher explanations (teacher talk longer than two lines
of transcript) and, in contrast, a negative impact stemming from ela-
borated student utterances with explanations (student utterances of
more than two lines of transcript that expressed a coherent idea).
Muhonen, Pakarinen, Poikkeus, Lerkkanen, and Rasku-Puttonen
(2018) conducted research in language arts and physics/chemistry
lessons. The sample consisted of 608 sixth grade students. Researchers
recorded video of 158 lessons which were subsequently coded in terms
of quality of instructional dialogue (i.e., the degree of engagement in
deep and meaningful conversations with clear learning content) and
quality of feedback (i.e., the extent of the teacher's extension and ex-
pansion of student talk). Grades were used as an indicator of student
achievement. The results indicated a positive relationship between the
quality of classroom talk and student achievement: the higher the
quality of classroom talk was, the higher the grades received by the
students in the given class and subject were.
The findings from the research cited above are varied. Some confirm
the assumptions of researchers about the positive relation between talk-
intensive discourse and student achievement (Applebee et al., 2003;
Muhonen et al., 2018), while others are less conclusive (McElhone,
2012;Nystrand et al., 1997) or even contradictory (Michener, 2014).
To a certain extent, the variability of the results may be explained by
the variation in observed classroom talk characteristics (for example,
teacher's authentic questions, open discussion time, conceptual press,
student explanation, quality of feedback) as well as by the different
ways used to measure student outcomes (e.g., writing assignments,
comprehension tests, grades).
However, we understand that there may be another important
source of fluctuation in the results of such investigations. The mea-
surement of classroom discourse characteristics in these studies was
related to the whole class: for example, the total time of student talk,
the total amount of open discussion in a class, or the total number of
authentic questions asked by the teacher. These indicators were then
linked to the aggregate performance of the whole class on tests. This
obscures the distinctions among individual students in the class. There
Alexander (2018) measured the outcomes of 4th grade students in English,
mathematics, and science tests; Andreassen and Bråten (2011) evaluated the
reading comprehension performances of 5th grade students; Kiemer et al.
(2015) perceived autonomy, competence, and intrinsic learning motivation in
mathematics results of 9th grade students; Furtak et al. (2016) evaluated
achievement in biology of high school students; O'Connor et al. (2015) charted
the outcomes of 6th grade students in mathematics tests; Reznitskaya et al.
(2001) measured the argumentation of 4th and 5th grade students in persuasive
essays; van der Veen et al. (2017) evaluated communicative competence and
subject matter knowledge in early childhood education.
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
are almost certainly differences in their participation in classroom talk
and in their test results. Different students, for example, speak for dif-
ferent amounts of time, differ in the degree to which they are engaged
in open discussion, or answer different types of questions. The failure to
consider the differences among individual students can be viewed as a
limitation of the studies cited above. This study is designed to address
the existing knowledge gap, as we consider individual student char-
acteristics both in terms of their participation in classroom talk and in
terms of their achievement.
1.3. Differences among students
Empirical research shows that not all students engage in classroom
talk to the same extent. A classic study by Brophy and Good (1970)
demonstrated that both the quantity and quality of verbal interactions
with the teacher was considerably different for individual students in a
class. Similar results have been produced by many more recent studies,
for example Black (2004),Jurik, Gröschner, and Seidel (2013),Clarke
(2015), and Helgevold (2016).Black (2004) examined different pat-
terns of participation and noted that individual students tended to en-
gage in habitual and recurring ways. Kovalainen and Kumpulainen
(2007) reported that there are different types of students in classrooms.
Their study describes vocal participants who are very active and take
the initiative in all circumstances, responsive participants who are not
active in themselves but answer questions from the teacher, and silent
participants who rarely take part in communication. The frequency
with which students engage in classroom talk and how long they speak
are identifiable differences among students. According to Black (2004),
students also differ in the level of productivity of their responses. In
non-productive participation, student utterances are short, un-
surprising, and do not require great cognitive effort; the student's pri-
mary goal is to meet the teacher's requirements. In contrast, productive
participation describes student interactions that contain verbal actions
that appear to create and maintain the shared understandings under-
pinning the learning process. In such cases, student utterances are
elaborate and contain argumentation and reasoning. Black (2004) ar-
gues that there are differences among students not only in the frequency
of their participation but also in the quality of their contributions.
These findings indicate that there are different participation degrees
and quality in classroom discourse. These differences presumably create
differing learning opportunities and, ultimately, could lead to differ-
ences in student achievement. This assumption was recently verified by
Webb et al. (2014) and Ing et al. (2015). They conducted a study in
mathematics lessons on 111 students. All student talk during whole-
class and small-group discussions was recorded on videos that were
then coded according to whether the students referred to their own
thoughts or commented on the ideas of others and according to the
degree of conceptual elaboration. Student achievement was measured
using standardized mathematics tests. The study found a positive link
between student participation and achievement.
On the other hand, there were contrasting findings from an ex-
perimental study by O'Connor et al. (2017) of two sixth grade classes
with 44 students total. Both classes had been previously included in an
intervention focused on implementing academically productive talk. A
culture of active engagement had been established in both classrooms.
In both classes, the same subjects were discussed, but the conditions
were manipulated. Each class underwent two teaching units – one unit
taught through talk-intensive instruction and the other unit taught
through traditional direct instruction. Mathematics tests (pre-tests and
post-tests) were used to measure student learning. At the same time, the
total number of words uttered during a lesson was counted for each
student in both classes. Generally, the analysis indicated that students
in the talk-intensive conditions talked many times more and at the same
time scored better on the test. But the results did not indicate an as-
sociation between the number of words spoken by a student and that
student's test score in either condition. Hence, the authors claimed that
both silent and vocal students benefited from being in a classroom
where talk-intensive instruction had been established, and it did not
matter whether they verbally participated in the given lesson. This
perspective contradicts the findings of Webb et al. (2014) and Ing et al.
(2015), who stated that individual participation predicts individual
student achievement.
Throughout chapters 1.2. and 1.3., we have referred to studies with
differing results and varied underlying assumptions. Nystrand (1996;
2006) argued that classroom discourse shapes student skills through the
establishment of classroom epistemology. Basically, Nystrand assumed
a homogeneous impact of classroom discourse on all students in the
class. O'Connor et al. (2017) agreed with this assumption and added
that even students who do not speak in class benefit from talk-intensive
instruction. Webb et al. (2014) and Ing et al. (2015) provided a com-
plementary perspective based on the knowledge that different students
participate in different ways and that therefore the impact of classroom
discourse on different students in a single class may differ. Being aware
of these differences in both assumptions and results, we decided to
carry out our own study. In doing so, we bore in mind both possibilities:
that students may be affected by the discourse established in their
classroom and they may also be affected by the scope and quality of
their own participation in this discourse. This double perspective con-
stitutes the unique contribution of our study.
2. The present study
The aim of this study is to contribute to the understanding of the
relationship between student participation in classroom talk and their
achievement in the ninth grade. The research was conducted under
natural conditions on a relatively large sample (32 classes, 639 stu-
dents). Unlike previous studies of this type, we distinguished two levels.
First, we were interested in determining whether student achievement
might be related to the fact that a given student was in a talk-intensive
classroom characterized by a high degree and quality of student par-
ticipation. Second, we examined whether student achievement might
be related to the fact that a particular student participated frequently
and productively in classroom talk. We used student talk time and the
number of student utterances with reasoning made during a lesson as
indicators of student participation. We measured student achievement
by means of the results from standardized reading literacy tests con-
ducted by the Czech School Inspectorate (CSI).
In line with our research intent, we formulated two main hy-
potheses. We expected to identify a statistically significant positive
relation between student participation and student achievement (H1).
At the same time, we hypothesized that a given student's test result
would be significantly accounted for by their individual involvement in
classroom talk and by the overall character of classroom talk (H2).
3. Method
The research design was based on a combination of observational
data obtained by the authors and from standardized reading literacy
tests conducted by the CSI. The CSI is a key central institution in the
evaluation of the education system in the Czech Republic that dis-
tributes and evaluates standardized tests focused on different areas of
student learning to measure student achievement in Czech schools.
Murphy et al. (2009) reported that the use of non-standardized tests
designed by researchers is one of the weaknesses of a number of studies
investigating the impact of classroom discourse on student achieve-
ment. The decision to use tests conducted and evaluated by the CSI in
this study addresses this shortcoming and should help to ensure the
validity and reliability of the assessment.
3.1. Measures
In this study, we measured student participation in classroom talk
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
and student achievement. We also included socio-economic background
and gender as contextual variables since these characteristics are be-
lieved to affect student achievement (e.g., Bodovski, Jeon, & Byun,
2017;Pfeffer, 2008;Parker et al., 2018).
3.1.1. Student participation in classroom talk
We operationalized the quantity of student participation in class-
room talk as the amount of time a student talked during a lesson. In
each class, we observed two lessons. We believe that data from these
two lessons represent the nature of classroom talk in the given class and
also participation patterns of individual students.
Teachers were in-
structed to teach as they normally would. They did not receive any
instruction as to the content of the observed lessons or instructional
methods. We therefore assume that both teachers and students behaved
in a way similar to their usual conduct. We only counted student
utterances that were part of whole-class teaching that involved inter-
actions between the teacher and students and among students. We ex-
cluded such types of talk as reading a text, individual work, and group
work. We also excluded any talk that did not relate to the subject matter
at hand (for example, organizational matters).
We operationalized the quality of student participation in classroom
talk as the amount of utterances with reasoning made by a student
during a lesson. We based our method on the classification of student
utterances proposed by Pimentel and McNeill (2013): (1) no response,
(2) word/phrase, (3) complete thought (resembles a sentence but no
explanation of thinking is included), and (4) thought and reasoning
(resembles a sentence and includes explanation). We counted those
utterances that corresponded to the fourth type of this classification.
An example of an utterance with reasoning:
Teacher: What does the sentence that the universe has no timeless
geography mean? It is quite complex. Could anyone try to explain?
Student: It is not really possible to show what the universe is like
when it is constantly moving so we cannot even know in a timeless way
what shape it will take. When we picture a map, the stars and the ga-
laxies cannot be placed exactly because they are constantly moving and
no one knows how.
The quantity and quality of student participation were measured
using a tablet application developed by the study authors. The appli-
cation is based on a class diagram with places marked where each
student sits. There were always two observers present in the classroom.
The first recorded talk time. The moment a student began to speak, the
observer marked his or her place in the diagram and activated the
measurement. When the student finished, the observer deactivated the
measurement. The second observer recorded the occurrence of utter-
ances with reasoning. As soon as a student made this type of utterance,
the observer marked his or her place in the diagram and the utterance
was included in the count. While measuring talk time (first observer) is
relatively non-problematic, identifying utterances with reasoning
(second observer) is a difficult task. The reliability of coding could have
been enhanced by the presence of a higher number of coders in the class
or by making video recordings. We did not, however, opt for either of
these options, in order to minimize disruption to the normal course of
teaching. We know from previous field studies (e.g., Sedova et al.,
2014;Sedova et al., 2016;Sedova et al., 2017) that teachers perceive
the presence of a video camera in a lesson very negatively and there is a
significant increase in the likelihood that they will refuse to participate
in the research. We anticipated a similar effect would occur if there
were to be a larger number of observers in the classroom. We did not
want our sample to be significantly affected by negative self-selection
on the part of the participants, so we decided to limit the intervention in
the normal course of action to the presence of two observers in the
classroom. Moreover, any interference with normal conditions raises
the risk that the observed actors will change their behavior. By mini-
mizing invasive stimuli, we also sought to reduce the possibility that
teachers and students would change their interaction behavior in re-
sponse to our presence.
In total, there were four pairs of coders performing the observation.
All coders were thoroughly trained. Four of them counted exclusively
the quantity of student participation and the other four exclusively the
quality – the occurrence of utterances with reasoning. These four co-
ders, who carried the greatest responsibility during the observation, are
co-authors of this study (the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh author).
Prior to the start of the research, each coder practiced individually and
in a group under supervision (by the first and third author of this study)
identification of utterances with reasoning using older video recordings
available to the research team. During the training, coders at first
practiced recognizing utterances with reasoning in transcripts of les-
sons. They then watched the video and entered information into the
tablet application in real time regarding which student made an ut-
terance with reasoning. This was done individually and then checked
for agreement among individual coders. The training was finished when
agreement among all coders reached 90%; this took about 43 h per one
coder responsible for coding utterances with reasoning. The other four
observers were responsible for the talk time measurement. Their
training was much shorter. We presented the tablet application to them
and instructed them how to work with it. Then they practiced real-time
coding of one video recording until we were certain that the differences
among observers in talk time measured for individual students were
minimal. This took about 9 h per one coder responsible for measure-
ment of talk time.
Observations took place in November and December 2017. Only
those students who attended both lessons were included in the analysis.
This procedure did not result in a significant data loss (up to 4%). For
each student, we considered their average talk time for the two lessons.
We also worked with the average number of arguments that each stu-
dent articulated in the two lessons.
For data at the class level, our
calculations included total student talk time, which was calculated as
the sum of all individual student talk times per one lesson. We also
calculated the total number of student utterances with reasoning per
one lesson.
3.1.2. Student achievement
We used the results of individual students on reading literacy tests
designed and evaluated by the CSI as an indicator of student achieve-
ment. In Czech curriculum, developing reading literacy is mostly con-
centrated in the language arts, which is the subject where we carried
out the observation. Testing took place in November 2017. The test
consisted of 16 tasks. An example of one of the tasks is attached in
Appendix. Students were given several longer extracts from texts
written in Czech and the level of their understanding was assessed with
several open- and closed-ended questions. The tasks covered all areas of
reading literacy that were operationalized in accordance with the cur-
riculum for the grades concerned. In this study, we use the student
success rate on the main section of the test (100% is a perfect score) as
the indication of student achievement.
We subsequently gathered additional data intended for close qualitative
analysis from four classrooms. We conducted six video recordings of lessons in
each of these four classrooms. This allowed us to compare values of talk time
and number of utterances with an argument for individual students from
measurement 1 (two lessons) and measurement 2 (six lessons). The aim was to
test whether there were significant differences between the two measurements.
We used the Wilcoxon signed ranks T-test and paired samples test. Based on
these tests, we confirm the null hypothesis (p = 0.11). There was no significant
distinction between the mean of the measure 1 and measure 2.
We paid careful attention to the consistency of student seating so as not to
cause confusion in the data due to different seating positions of students in the
two lessons.
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
3.1.3. Students’ socio-economic background
Students' socio-economic background was measured through the
index of the highest occupational status of parents (HISEI).
Occupational data for the student's father and mother were obtained
through open-ended questions. The responses were coded as four-digit
International Standard Classification of Occupations codes and then
recoded to the International Socio-Economic Index of Occupational
Status (ISEI) (Ganzeboom, De Graaf, & Treiman, 1992). The HISEI for a
given student corresponded to the higher ISEI score of the two parents
or to the only available parent's ISEI score. Higher ISEI scores indicate
higher levels of occupational status.
3.2. Sample
The sample for this study consisted of ninth grade students (ISCED
2A) who were involved in the CSI's selective reading literary testing. In
this national sample survey, CSI included altogether 163 schools from
the total of 4221 Czech lower secondary schools. From this sample, the
researchers chose schools from three Czech districts.
In total, 23
schools were approached; two of these schools refused to take part in
the research. The study included a total of 21 schools and 32 classes (all
ninth grade classes). The sample consisted of 639 students. There were
approximately 21 students on average in the class; 52% boys and 48%
girls. The age of the students at the time of the measurement ranged
between 14 and 15 years.
In all of these classes, researchers conducted structured classroom
talk observations in two different language arts lessons (2 × 45 min).
Teachers were instructed to teach the lessons in their usual way. In
total, we recorded data from 64 lessons.
Students completed questionnaires to determine a number of con-
textual variables, such as socio-economic background, school grades,
academic self-esteem, and attitudes toward the subject and the teacher.
Table 1 summarizes the descriptive results of all variables relevant to
this text.
Students in our sample had average test scores of approximately
44% (Standard Dev. = 15.36).
The classroom discourse indicators re-
vealed that they spoke relatively little in the monitored lessons – on
average, each student spoke for 11 s in one lesson and made 0.5
utterances with reasoning. In our sample, 46 students spoke for 0 s.
Those students had average test scores of approximately 41% (Standard
Dev. = 15.12). These general data indicate that the classroom talk in
the sample has relatively traditional features – it is dominated by tea-
cher talk, with only a small number of elaborate student utterances
containing arguments. This finding is in line with our previous studies
carried out in Czech schools (Sedova et al., 2014). However, our results
show a great variability in student participation. In almost all classes,
some students spoke for significantly longer amounts of time than
others and some students remained completely silent. The number of
utterances with reasoning for individual students also varied sub-
stantially. Of all the students observed, 91% made some utterance. At
least one utterance with reasoning was produced by only 42% of the
3.3. Research ethics
We first made an arrangement to work with the CSI. They agreed
that we could use the results of their reading literacy tests in our re-
search if the schools involved and the students’ parents agreed. We then
sought oral consent from the school principals and all the teachers to
allow us to conduct the research in their schools and classrooms. In the
next step, we sought written consent from all of the parents of the
students participating in the observed classes. Participants were assured
of confidentiality and of the ability to withdraw at any time. No one
withdrew during the study. All participants were assigned numbers, and
any personally identifying information was removed from the data
prior to processing.
3.4. Analytical strategy
In this study, our main focus was on investigating the effect that
student participation in classroom discourse might have on student
achievement. We also considered student gender and socio-economic
background in the analysis.
We constructed multilevel models. Multilevel models, also referred
to as random coefficient models, enable testing whether the constants
and slopes of the function symbolizing influence (the regression coef-
ficient) differ in different groups (see Hox, 2002). The purpose of
multilevel models is to test this proposition using group characteristics,
which in our study were represented by classroom characteristics.
purpose of the analyzed models was to determine, at both the class level
and the individual student level, whether classroom discourse might
affect student achievement. To do so, we worked in the first step with a
zero model. This model enables the variance of the dependent variable
(student academic achievement) to be broken down into a component
caused by differences among individual students and a component
caused by differences among classes. Intra-class correlation (ICC) was
determined as the ratio of variance caused by differences among classes
to total variability (Soukup, 2006). To test the other hypothesis,
used fixed-slope models
that involve factors at both the student and
classroom levels; in all cases, we looked for models that contained only
factors with an effect on the explained variable at a statistical sig-
nificance level of 0.05. The equation of the models is as follows:
= β
+ β
+ β
+ β
+ β
i *
) + β
i *
) + β
i *
) + u
+ e
where Y represents the academic achievement level of student iin class
j, X
is the amount of talk time by student iand the total talk time for all
students in class j,
identifies the socio-economic status of student i
and the group status of class j, and C
represents the gender of student i.
It follows from the equation that we intend to estimate any impact for
the variables of talk time and student socio-economic status at both
possible levels, i.e. at the individual and whole-class levels. Further-
more, the model indicates that we also intended to estimate the impact
of three interaction effects (the interaction of the talk time for a student
and for the whole class, the interaction between time and gender, and
the interaction between time and socio-economic status). Parameters u
and eare random errors at the class (u
) and student level (e
The Czech Republic is divided into 14 districts. The data were collected in
three districts (South Moravian Region, Olomouc Region, and Vysocina
Region). We addressed all schools in these three districts that were involved in
CSI testing of reading literacy.
There were one or two weeks between the two observations.
This seems to be a high standard deviation; however, we should note that
similar results occurred with Czech students in an international assessment (see
Blažek and Příhodová, 2017).
Another advantage of multilevel models is that the nested structure of the
data can be taken into account.
We expected to identify a statistically significant positive effect from student
participation on student achievement. At the same time, we hypothesized that a
given student's test result would be significantly accounted for by both their
individual involvement in classroom talk and the overall character of classroom
The randomness of the first-level variables in all cases proved to be statis-
tically insignificant.
Our second variable conceptualizing classroom talk, i.e. the number of
utterances with an argument, can be substituted for X.
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
4. Results
We used the following strategy to construct the regression models.
First, we focused on the aforementioned zero model. We then gradually
added individual independent variables. For each predictor,
we tested
both options as random or fixed components. Due to space constraints,
here we only present the final results. The introduction of each variable
in the form of a random effect was shown to be insignificant for all of
the variables considered at the student level. This phase resulted in the
elimination of any factors not involved in explaining the variability in
students. In the last step, we estimated the effect of some interactions
between significant predictors. We present only significant interactions.
Table 2 summarizes the parameters of the main estimated models.
Because we hypothesized that differences among classes might play a
role in explaining variability in student achievement, we first estimated
the zero model. Using this model, the average success rate on the
reading literacy test when eliminating all factors was estimated at ap-
proximately 43%. Intra-class correlation (ICC) equaled 0.18. This result
can be interpreted as meaning that 18% of the differences in student
success rate on the test could be attributed to the class they come from.
In the next step, we introduced the average time a student actively
spoke during a lesson (measured in seconds). The model estimated that
this was a significant predictor (p< 0.01). The calculated model
parameters also indicated that talk time had a positive impact on stu-
dent achievement. Its strength can be interpreted as meaning that an
increase in average talk time of approximately 100 s (1.7 min) corre-
lates with an increase in test scores of 13.7 percentage points. This is
undoubtedly a high figure if we take into account the average score in
the test (43.7%). It seems to us that this confirms our main hypothesis.
We also assessed how to fit the estimated model to the data. We used
the Bayesian information criterion (BIC), which compares the estimated
model with a zero or saturated model. Raftery (1995) suggested the
following key for the evaluation of the credibility of compared models:
a 0–2 point decrease means the evidence was weak, 2–6 positive, 6–10
strong, and more than 10 very strong. A comparison of Model 1 with
the zero model reveals a difference (decrease) of more than 800 points.
At the student level, it seems that talk time was therefore a highly
significant predictor of student achievement.
In Model 2, we added information about the student's socio-eco-
nomic background as indicated by the occupational status of the family
(HISEI). This model better matched the obtained data (there was a
decline in the BIC). The impact of talk time at the student level re-
mained virtually the same. At the same time, the HISEI also seemed to
be a significant predictor. Here we can see a positive link. Since the
HISEI is centralized, the calculated estimate can be interpreted as fol-
lows: an increase in parent status by one unit appeared to correspond to
an average increase in test scores of nearly 2 percentage points.
The next explanatory variable at the first (student) level added to
the model was student gender (Model 3). Although the decrease in BIC
was not great (13 points), this model fits the data better. The prediction
strength of talk time and family status replicated the estimates from
Table 1
Descriptive indicators for the variables tracked.
Variable Mean Stand. deviat. Median Min Max Percentiles 25 Percentiles 75 N
Reading literacy (success in %) 43.86 15.36 43.47 6.52 82.61 32.61 54.35 602
Time (s) 11.45 18.02 5.35 0 180.06 1.74 13.90 534
Boy time (s) 10.29 14.66 4.89 0 98.50 1.68 12.04 274
Girl time (s) 12.44 20.46 5.76 0 180.06 1.74 15.66 257
0.57 1.31 0.01 0 15.50 0 0.50 535
Boy reason
0.51 1.29 0.01 0 15.50 0 0.50 278
Girl reason
0.63 1.34 0.01 0 13.00 0 0.50 254
HISEI 47.52 18.56 45.00 12.00 88.00 34.00 54.00 582
Total time (s) 189.55 32
Total reason (sum)
9.67 32
HISEI 47.59 32
Amount of utterances with reasoning made by a student during a lesson.
Table 2
Results from multilevel models of the impact of talk time on academic
Estimate Std. Error df T p
Model 0 Intercept 43.758 1.258 28.090 34.773 0.000
Model 1 Intercept 42.441 1.332 34.077 31.868 0.000
Time 0.137 0.038 495.135 3.576 0.000
BIC 4161.216
ICC 14%
Model 2 Intercept 42.856 1.276 33.191 33.593 0.000
Time 0.135 0.038 456.203 3.529 0.000
HISEI 1.721 0.744 467.652 2.314 0.021
BIC 3883.940
ICC 13%
Model 3 Intercept 44.334 1.452 56.646 30.523 0.000
Time 0.132 0.039 450.680 3.372 0.001
HISEI 1.822 0.751 465.377 2.427 0.016
Boy −2.722 1.330 452.624 −2.047 0.041
BIC 3870.053
ICC 12%
Model 4 Intercept 39.080 8.940 29.115 4.371 0.000
Time 0.112 0.041 453.371 2.724 0.007
HISEI 1.940 0.778 443.375 2.494 0.013
Boy −2.844 1.332 450.207 −2.135 0.033
Time_Class 0.018 0.011 31.939 1.571 0.106
HISEI_Class 0.044 0.165 29.953 0.266 0.792
BIC 3876.483
ICC 12%
Model 5 Intercept 38.277 2.793 49.667 13.704 0.000
Time 0.323 0.104 416.903 3.103 0.002
HISEI 2.036 0.752 463.968 2.707 0.007
Boy −3.584 1.576 449.838 −2.275 0.023
Time_Class 0.032 0.012 49.860 2.594 0.012
Time*Time_Class −0.002 0.000 377.551 −2.604 0.010
Time*Boy 0.061 0.077 463.434 0.789 0.430
Time*HISEI 0.018 0.034 462.966 0.539 0.590
BIC 3848.742
ICC 11%
With the exception of gender, where it was not appropriate given the ex-
haustive categories.
Bayesian Information Criterion.
Intra-class correlation.
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
previous models, and there were also significant differences in success
rate between boys and girls. Boys' scores on the reading literacy tests
were an average of nearly 3 percentage points lower than girls’ scores.
In the subsequent models, we included class-level variables. In
Model 4, we estimated test success relative to the talk characteristics of
the entire class. This second level is represented by the total amount of
time that students in the class actively participated in talk. We also
introduced the average occupational status of the parents of the entire
class. The estimated model indicated that aggregate talk time was also a
significant predictor of student achievement. The significance of this
variable was 0.1, which is higher than what is common in the social
sciences (0.05). In this case, however, it is necessary to take into ac-
count that multilevel models require a relatively high number of groups
(ideally 100 and more). Our number of classes did not meet this re-
quirement. Hox (2002) showed that in some situations multilevel
models can be estimated with even fewer groups (even less than 10). He
noted that in such cases the fact that the result underestimates the
standard error needs to be taken into account. Therefore, he re-
commended avoiding working with standard statistical significance, i.e.
an alpha level of 0.05. If the number of groups is around 20 to 30, the
critical threshold should be higher (0.09–0.1). Such is the case for
Model 4. Taking these criteria into account, the hypothesis predicting a
significant influence from student talk time at class level was con-
firmed. The second aggregate variable—the average occupational status
of the class—turned out to be statistically insignificant. It therefore did
not contribute to explaining the variance in academic achievement.
This is a surprising finding to some extent. Parental occupational status
was a significant predictor at the individual level. Data from the Pro-
gramme for International Student Assessment have repeatedly demon-
strated in the Czech context that socio-economic status plays an
important role at not only the individual level but also the school level
(Straková, 2016). Our data at the class level did not confirm this
finding. The relatively small number of classes for the second-level
models could have been an influencing factor. Looking at the de-
scriptive data, however, it seems to us that the relative similarity of the
classes included in our sample in terms of average occupational status is
a more prominent reason. In our model, this was not a characteristic
that explained student achievement on the literacy test. Overall, it
appears that Model 4 did not provide a more accurate estimate than the
previous model (the BIC slightly increased). We therefore eliminated
the aggregate occupational status in the steps that followed.
The last model presented, Model 5, estimated student achievement
with the contribution of selected interactions between several variables
that had proved in previous models to be significant at the first or
second level. The information criteria indicated that this estimate best
suited the data obtained. New slopes (regression coefficients) were es-
timated for the inclusion of all variables. The strength of the influence
of individual talk time increased substantially. The new estimate in-
dicated that the average test success rate was about 30 percentage
points higher for the individual students who spoke for about 100 s in a
lesson. The significance of the impact of total talk time in a class was
therefore confirmed; the significance of this predictor was now at the
usual level (p< 0.05). The predictors of student gender and occupa-
tional status remained at approximately the level of Model 3.
Interesting conclusions also arose from the tested interactions. The first
tested interaction, focused on the relationship between the talk time of
a particular student and the total time of all students in the class, was
significant. Although the influence is negligible, it indicates a negative
effect of the interaction in question. This means that the positive link
between a student's result in the test and their overall speaking time is
Table 3
Results from multilevel models of the impact of the number of arguments on academic achievement.
Estimate Std. Error df T p
Model 0 Intercept 43.758 1.258 28.090 34.773 0.000
BIC 4963.224
ICC 16%
Model 1 Intercept 43.197 1.300 29.898 33.238 0.000
Reason 1.598 0.574 497.457 2.785 0.006
BIC 4198.613
ICC 15%
Model 2 Intercept 43.527 1.256 29.430 34.665 0.000
Reason 1.645 0.577 462.477 2.853 0.005
HISEI 1.732 0.741 473.500 2.337 0.020
BIC 3927.571
ICC 13%
Model 3 Intercept 45.396 1.415 51.255 32.089 0.000
Reason 1.579 0.574 457.337 2.751 0.006
HISEI 1.820 0.747 470.682 2.436 0.015
Boy −3.475 1.335 458.749 −2.603 0.010
BIC 3911.072
ICC 12%
Model 4 Intercept 50.582 7.759 30.624 6.519 0.000
Reason 1.474 0.607 449.272 2.429 0.016
HISEI 1.989 0.775 445.111 2.567 0.011
Boy −3.443 1.337 456.508 −2.575 0.010
Reason_Class 0.051 0.136 35.897 0.374 0.710
HISEI_Class −0.120 0.157 30.443 −0.762 0.452
BIC 3914.326
ICC 12%
Model 5 Intercept 49.857 8.050 31.455 6.193 0.000
Reason 3.245 1.221 466.511 2.658 0.008
HISEI 1.564 0.854 447.160 1.830 0.068
Boy −3.803 1.520 454.183 −2.502 0.013
Reason_Class 0.128 0.145 38.898 0.881 0.384
Reason*Reason_Class −0.080 0.040 463.808 −2.031 0.043
Reason*Boy 0.986 1.430 449.184 0.689 0.491
Reason*HISEI 0.748 0.712 460.769 1.050 0.294
BIC 3911.327
ICC 12%
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
weaker in more talkative classes (i.e., in classes that are above the
sample mean). In other words, a student from a very talkative class
must also be very talkative for the individual-time effect described
above to apply. It is nonetheless important to repeat that despite being
statistically significant, this effect is negligible. A segment of individual
student talking time that amounts to 10 s may be connected to a 3.2%
increase in the student's academic achievement. The same amount of
individual student talking time may be connected to a 3% increase in
more talkative classes. The remaining interactions for the influence of
talk time were insignificant. This indicates that the talk time was nei-
ther strengthened nor weakened in any group of student characteristics.
This is again a remarkable finding, and it appears to confirm our as-
sumptions. The impact of individual talk time on student achievement
was the same for girls and boys and especially for groups of students
with different socio-economic backgrounds.
We used the same analytical procedure in the next step, in which we
changed the key explanatory variable. Talk time was replaced by the
number of utterances with reasoning in the lesson. We included in the
estimates the number of utterances on both the individual and whole-
class levels (total utterances with reasoning made by all students in a
lesson). The other predictors were identical. Table 3 presents the results
of these estimates.
A comparison of the results (Tables 2 and 3) indicates that the two
factors of classroom discourse were very similar in terms of their impact
on student academic achievement. In other words, the number of
utterances with reasoning made by a student during a lesson appears to
be a significant explanatory factor for their reading literacy test results.
When a student articulated on average an extra 1 argument during a
lesson, the average test success rate was about 1.5 percentage points
higher (Model 1). When all predictors were included, there was an in-
crease in the impact by as much as 3 percentage points (Model 5). The
control variables (gender and occupational status) were used in essen-
tially the same way as in the models based on talk time (see models 1 to
There was a substantial change in the effect from the number of
utterances with reasoning at the whole-class level. It turned out that
this was not a significant influence (Model 4). The interaction between
utterances at the first and second levels was statistically significant
(Model 5) but materially negligible.
Our data in this respect sup-
ported the conclusion that the quality of talk was a significant predictor
of student achievement in reading literacy; its impact seemed to be
connected to the individual performance of each student. At the whole-
class level, the students’ talk did not contribute to explaining the var-
iance in student performance in the dependent variable of reading lit-
5. Discussion, limitations, and implications
The aim of this study was to test, under natural conditions in or-
dinary classes, the existence of a connection between the frequency and
quality of student talk during a lesson and student achievement on a
reading literacy test. Our results indicated that this relationship existed
and was strong. Students who talked and argued more in language arts
lessons had better performance results on reading literacy tests.
At present, the central role of talk in relation to learning and
knowledge construction in the classroom has come to the forefront of
scholarly attention. It is assumed that students learn through talk and
their learning outcomes can be largely attributed to the quality of
classroom discourse (for example Mercer & Littleton, 2007;Resnick
et al., 2017). These hypotheses are widely shared, but robust empirical
evidence obtained in whole-class interactions is still scarce. This study
can be therefore viewed as a contribution toward supporting the stance
that talk-intensive pedagogies are based on correct premises.
This study contributes to the theory development in the field with
the notion that it is useful to pay attention to general characteristics of
classroom talk and also to individual participation patterns of particular
students. Unlike previous studies of a similar type, we examined the
relationship between participation and achievement in parallel at the
individual and class levels. In other words, we asked whether it is
sufficient to place a student in a talkative classroom or if they have to
actively speak, express their ideas, and reason. The assumption of the
influence of the nature of student talk at the class level is based on the
notion of a learning community in which students work together as a
group to acquire new knowledge (Lyle, 2008), while the capacities of
more advanced students are available to other members of the group
who may observe, try out, and gradually internalize new ways of
communication and thinking (Reznitskaya & Gregory, 2013). It has
been suggested that students benefit from listening to their actively
participating classmates (O'Connor et al., 2017). Our findings support
this idea only to a limited extent. We found that students had better test
results when they were in a class with an overall high amount of student
talk. At the same time, there appeared to be a stronger link between
individual student participation and their individual achievement. As
for utterances with reasoning, it is not possible to say that to be located
in a classroom with a high frequency of such utterances is itself linked
to better student results. It does seem true that there is a link at the
individual level between the number of utterances with reasoning
spoken by a particular student and that student's achievements on a
reading literacy test.
Our findings are thus more in line with the perspective, previously
outlined by the studies of Webb et al. (2014) and Ing et al. (2015), that
classroom discourse affects different students in a class in different
ways, depending on how actively they participate. Our analysis in-
dicated that those individuals who spoke and argued in class had better
results on a reading test. In theory, this finding can be explained
through Vygotsky's concept of internalization (Vygotsky, 1978). Talk is
essential in this process; the more opportunities for talk there are, the
faster and better the internalization of the newly learned knowledge is.
If we imagine the classroom as a community of practice (Lave &
Wenger, 1991), it is possible to distinguish between students who
participate centrally (talk and argue) and those who participate per-
ipherally (listen to the talk and argumentation of their peers). Our
findings may indicate that peripheral participation, witnessing the ac-
tivities of more skillful and experienced members of the community, is
not connected with learning outcomes comparable to the outcomes for
those who participate centrally.
It is possible that the differences between our finding that vocal
students have better learning outcomes than silent students and the
findings of O'Connor et al. (2017) that silent students have the same
outcomes as vocal students may be, to some degree, explained with
reference to different study designs. O'Connor et al. (2017) collected
data in classes in which students underwent an intervention focused on
the implementation of talk-intensive instruction and had been socia-
lized for a long time in a culture of active participation, including active
listening. The authors concluded that even the students who did not
speak in the observed lessons were engaged and therefore were able to
benefit from the whole-class discussion. This was probably not the case
for the classrooms in our sample. Our data indicate that teaching in
these classrooms was rather traditional, with a small proportion of
student talk. Consequently, our study does not contradict the study by
O'Connor et al. (2017). It was implemented in different conditions and
shows the relationship between participation in classroom talk and
student achievement in an environment that does not appear to be
dialogue-rich and does not seem to have an established culture of active
If there is a connection between how students talk in classes and
their learning outcomes, it seems to make sense to give students room
This is an inverse relationship; the weakening of the significance of in-
dividual arguments along with an increase in the sum of these arguments in a
class cannot be considered materially relevant with regard to the scale.
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
for elaborate talk and also to strive to ensure that their talk is of good
quality and contains arguments. This is an important message for
schools and teachers. Teaching in Czech schools is still very traditional
and not much student-oriented (Sedova et al., 2014). The results from
this study may help persuade Czech teachers and their educators that a
change toward talk-intensive pedagogies could be desirable as it might
help improve student learning. Training in the use of dialogic proce-
dures is not yet a common part of Czech teacher education. This study
provides some evidence for their inclusion in teacher education or
professional development. A number of studies have reported that
students participate unevenly in class (for example Jurik et al., 2013;
Clarke, 2015;Helgevold, 2016). In light of our findings, we can an-
ticipate that such a situation creates unequal learning opportunities in
terms of the potential link between participation in classroom talk and
student learning gains. We believe that there will always be students
who will talk more, because they know more about the topic (Clarke,
2015) or are more extroverted (Young, 2014) or more motivated (Jurik
et al., 2013). Despite this, we think that our analysis implies a clear
recommendation for teachers – to be aware of the possible link between
classroom talk and achievement and to strive to invite all students in
the classroom to participate in classroom conversations. However,
teachers often perceive this task as very difficult (Snell & Lefstein,
2018). In the future, it may therefore be necessary to devote energy to a
focused examination of the circumstances in which teachers are able to
get students to participate more evenly. In addition to the need to de-
vote research attention to these issues, it is also vital to shift the focus of
teacher education or professional development in this direction. This
means that teachers need to learn about methods of talk-intensive
teaching and they also need to be guided in creating conditions for a
more proportionate participation of all students, regardless of their
achievement, skills, or other characteristics.
Another important implication emerges from our analyses. The link
between participation and achievement appeared to apply equally for all
students, regardless of socio-economic background and gender. The ex-
istence of educational inequalities according to socio-economic back-
ground has been confirmed repeatedly (for example Bodovski et al., 2017;
Pfeffer, 2008). The effort to remedy unequal conditions and minimize
educational inequalities is one of the most important missions of con-
temporary educational sciences. One can find in the literature a suspicion
that instructional strategies that emphasize student responsibility and ac-
tivity, including talk-intensive pedagogies, create more of a disadvantage
for already disadvantaged students, especially students from families with
low socio-economic backgrounds (Andersen & Andersen, 2017). However,
our findings indicated that when students, including disadvantaged ones,
are successfully involved and prompted to participate and reason, the
positive link was universal. Given how few widely applicable solutions
capable of optimizing learning opportunities for all students are available,
we consider our conclusions to be extremely important.
5.1. Limitations of the study
In this study, we strove to explore the link between student parti-
cipation in classroom talk and student achievement on a reading lit-
eracy test. We conducted the study under natural conditions in order to
capture the processes that are typical of the environment and represent
the common educational experience of Czech students. We also strove
to have a sufficiently large sample of classes that would not be bur-
dened by self-selection. This intention led to some methodological
choices that make up the limitations of this study.
The first limitation is presented by the fact that we conducted a
correlational study. Hence, we do not have control over the direction of
causality. Our argument that participation in classroom talk affects
achievement is derived from our theoretical premises. The identified
connection might also indicate that student achievement predicts in-
volvement in classroom talk. In other words, high achievers, as mea-
sured by reading literacy tests, speak more and argue more. The causal
direction could be controlled if we conducted an intervention study
including a pre-test and a post-test, as well as intervention and control
groups of students. In conducting such a study, however, we would not
capture common and typical processes and phenomena.
Another limitation of our study is the fact that the quality of student
contributions was coded by a single coder, directly during the lessons. This
kind of real-time coding can be prone to error. This decision was driven by
our attempt to get a sample representing common teachers and classes. We
were concerned that the use of recording technology or a larger number of
observers in the class would lead to the reluctance of schools and teachers
to participate in the research and to the tendency to change the interaction
behavior. We tried to minimize the risks of this choice by thoroughly
training the coders, who co-authored the study.
Further limitations—having to do with the possibility of inter-
preting our findings—are related to the data we gathered in this data
collection setting. Above all, we observed a small amount of talk and
reasoning on the part of students in Czech classes. Therefore, our
findings cannot illustrate how the relationship between participation
and achievement works in a dialogue-rich environment. We can only
assert that in a situation involving the limited participation of students
in classroom talk, the degree of their individual involvement appears to
play a highly important role.
Another fact that undermines our interpretation is that the observed
classes were relatively homogeneous in terms of the students’ socio-eco-
nomic backgrounds. In other words, there were not considerable differ-
ences among the students in the sample in this respect. Our finding that a
positive relationship between participation and achievement appears to
apply regardless of socio-economic background should therefore be ac-
cepted with caution. It is possible that in the case of a more heterogeneous
sample this conclusion would not be confirmed.
5.2. Next steps
This study has brought important, but in many ways limited,
knowledge. One advantage is that it is part of a wider project in which
we have additional sources of data to analyze.
Not all of the data that
we collected from this sample of students have been utilized in this
study. In addition, the present quantitative study was followed by a
qualitative study (February to May 2018) in which we included four
classes from the original sample. In these classes, we made a series of
video recordings of the lessons and conducted a number of interviews
with both teachers and students.
This material should allow us to shed more light on the predictors of
student participation in the near future. In other words, it may enable
us to discover what leads some students to be vocal and others to re-
main silent. In addition, thanks to qualitative data, we should be able to
identify with greater specificity the reasons for non-participation: are
silent students simply disaffected, or rather do they not feel the need to
speak even though they are fully engaged? Are there any barriers that
discourage them from participation? In addition to the focus on the
characteristics of individual students, the wider context of classroom
culture needs to be explored in greater detail because the conditions of
participation are necessarily socially construed. The question remains:
In what ways do the teachers’ behavior and expectations influence
whether the student engages? And further, what is the role of peer
relationships and interactions in the classroom in this respect?
This article is an output of the project On the Relationship between
Such as questionnaires on student engagement and other additional data about students (Sedova et al., 2016).
K. Sedova, et al. Learning and Instruction 63 (2019) 101217
Characteristics of Classroom Discourse and Student Achievement (GA17-
03643S) funded by the Czech Science Foundation.
Appendix. An example of one of the tasks from reading literacy test
Read the text and choose the right answer.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the disease known as beriberi (in Singhalese “I cannot”) with characteristic symptoms ranging from
weakness to paralysis spread dramatically in Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). The Dutch government, concerned that there is hardly
anybody left to slave on the plantations, set up a special committee. Christian Eijkman (1858–1930), a physician of the state prison in Batavia
(present-day Jakarta) was among its members. On one beautiful day, Doctor Eijkman was enjoying a view out of the window of his official apartment
overlooking the prison courtyard. His head full of the cursed beriberi, he was watching the hens pecking around the yard. He was intrigued by their
strange movements and postures; somehow they reminded him of the sick inmates… It turned out that the hens were, through kitchen garbage,
eating basically the same diet as the inmates—mostly rice. Specifically, it was husked rice. The husks were removed because a product that had been
processed in this way looks better and as a result can cost more.
The already suspecting Eijkman only needed to ask the “competitors” a few questions and everything was clear. Jails where the inmates con-
sumed only husked rice had high numbers of beriberi patients, while in the jails where the managers economized and fed their inmates with cheap
rice that had not been husked, the disease almost did not occur.
In 1897, Eijkman published his discovery. Despite its significance, there was almost no response. At that time, nutrition science was dominated by
caloric assessment of nutrients, while the causes of diseases were decided by young and ambitious bacteriology. The idea that a mere deficiency in
some trace element in diet could cause a serious disease or even death simply seemed ridiculous.
However, in 1911 Eijkman's work was discovered by a young biochemist of Polish origin Kazimierz Funk (1884–1967) who was living in London.
He first tested Eijkman's conclusions on pigeons and then got a kilo of rice husks and used them to laboriously prepare six grams of white powder.
This powder, even in milligram amount, reliably cured beriberi. Funk called it vitamin B; vita means “life” in Latin and amin was for the amin group
that the powder contained. He used letter “B” to avoid confusion with a substance of a similar category that had been shortly before discovered in
milk by Funk's colleague Frederick Hopkins (1861–1947) who called it growth factor A (today known as vitamin A). It is evident that Funk's name
was widely accepted, even though the amin group after which it was named is out of all the thirteen vitamins that are known contained only in “his”
vitamin (it is at present known as vitamin B
). Eijkman and Hopkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1929.
(Houdek F., Tůma J.: Objevy a vynálezy tisíciletí [Discoveries and Inventions of the Millennium], Nakladatelství Lidové noviny 2002, p. 233)
Which of the following statements is directly contradicted in the text
Christian Eijkman died in prison in Batavia.
The beriberi disease can be cured with six grams of a special white powder.
Kazimierz Funk was later awarded the Nobel prize.
The beriberi disease was widespread in all prisons of the Dutch East Indies.
Vitamin B
can be found in particular in husked rice; rice that has not been husked does not contain it at
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... There is a paucity of evidence on individual students' classroom talk (Sedova, et al, 2019). This suggests that students' classroom talk is not a common occurrence in many classrooms, especially in the developing world. ...
... Classroom discourse has, therefore, become a popular research focus because it plays significant roles in students' mastery of subject-matters (Sedova et al, 2019). Learning is a dialogue-mediated social activity. ...
... Findings from a study carried out on 697 9th-grade Language Arts students in Czech middle schools by Sedova, et al (2019) show that increase in student talk time during classroom interaction results in significant improvement in students' subject-matter mastery. When teachers ask open-ended questions, their students' critical reasoning abilities are positively stretched and challenged to function with improved acumen (Sedova et al, 2019). ...
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Language classroom discourse is meant to empower learners for acceptable mastery of the skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing and critical reasoning. Nigerian students have, however, been found to perform poorly in essay writing, suggesting deficiencies in classroom interactions. The focus on the Essay Writing aspect of English Language resulted from its overarching importance to every student's success in the whole subject, other school subjects and other life endeavours. Bernstein's theory of pedagogic discourse underpinned the study that investigated the influence of the social order, relations and identity on the empowerment of students to attain essay writing instructional objectives. Six Senior Secondary Classes II were randomly sampled in Ilorin Metropolis. A classroom discourse analysis protocol was used for data collection. Two Essay Writing lessons were observed for each class for ample data and to verify consistency of practice. A paucity of interactive feedback was observed. Student-self-made and fellow-learner-made repairs were outweighed by teacher-made repairs. A paradigm shift from teacher-dominated product-focused approach to the interactive process-based approach is recommended.
... 2 A key 1 s/us-department-education-announces-ove r-220-million-dollars-investments-gover nment-private-and-public-sectors-support -student-recovery 2 ing-covid-19-related-special-grant-cycle step in this direction is to measure and facilitate the use of effective mathematics teaching practices, an effort that draws on a long history of research (e.g., Brophy, 1984;Sedova et al., 2019). Instructional measurement has traditionally relied on resourceintensive classroom observation. ...
... These findings become even more significant in the context of baseline measures of student engagement -percentage of student turns and percentage of student words -which do not show positive correlations with instruction quality and value added scores. These findings add to a collection of mixed results by related work, some of which show positive, some of which show no relationship between student talk time and learning outcomes (see Sedova et al., 2019, for an overview). ...
... Student utterances are spontaneous words such as "Wow! that topic was interesting" while performing a task or providing feedback about a specific event [140]. Student utterances are considered one of the effective ways of recording student feedback about the pedagogical activity and helping to understand students' emotions [152]. However, recording and classifying students' utterances are challenging tasks. ...
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In recent years, the rapid growth of online learning has highlighted the need for effective methods to monitor and improve student experiences. Emotions play a crucial role in shaping students’ engagement, motivation, and satisfaction in online learning environments, particularly in complex STEM subjects. In this context, sentiment analysis has emerged as a promising tool to detect and classify emotions expressed in textual and visual forms. This study offers an extensive literature review using the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) technique on the role of sentiment analysis in student satisfaction and online learning in STEM subjects. The review analyses the applicability, challenges, and limitations of text- and facial-based sentiment analysis techniques in educational settings by reviewing 57 peer-reviewed research articles out of 236 articles, published between 2015 and 2023, initially identified through a comprehensive search strategy. Through an extensive search and scrutiny process, these articles were selected based on their relevance and contribution to the topic. The review’s findings indicate that sentiment analysis holds significant potential for improving student experiences, encouraging personalised learning, and promoting satisfaction in the online learning environment. Educators and administrators can gain valuable insights into students’ emotions and perceptions by employing computational techniques to analyse and interpret emotions expressed in text and facial expressions. However, the review also identifies several challenges and limitations associated with sentiment analysis in educational settings. These challenges include the need for accurate emotion detection and interpretation, addressing cultural and linguistic variations, ensuring data privacy and ethics, and a reliance on high-quality data sources. Despite these challenges, the review highlights the immense potential of sentiment analysis in transforming online learning experiences in STEM subjects and recommends further research and development in this area.
... Others, acknowledging the inherently social nature of schools and the potential of talk as a tool for thinking (Vygotsky, 1978) and language as a means of learning (Halliday, 1978), have investigated the cognitive benefits of spoken language. For example, well-structured dialogue between students, or between students and teachers, has been linked to improved attainment in a range of curriculum areas (EEF, 2017;Howe et al., 2019;Sedova et al., 2019). Exploratory talk (Mercer, 2013) has been found to be especially powerful. ...
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The contribution of spoken language to outcomes for education and beyond, including attainment, wellbeing and empowerment is long-established and has recently become more prominent under the title of oracy, often conceptualised as learning both to and through talk. Part of the renewed interest in oracy is due to its potential for driving social mobility and its role in developing cultural capital. Cultural capital has a high profile in current English education policy due to its association with ‘knowledge-rich’ curricula and its explicit inclusion in the latest school inspection framework. In comparison with the original characterisation of cultural capital, however, policy-level cultural capital is narrowly defined. This article draws on the experiences of Oracy Leads from 12 schools to explore the motivations for their focus on oracy and the implicit and potential connections with cultural capital. It critiques reductive conceptualisations of cultural capital and oracy's role, arguing that oracy has a broader contribution to make than communicative competence and access to knowledge. Two forms of transformation are suggested: personal transformation through ‘exploratory’ forms of talk and societal transformation through the cultivation of agency and empowerment. Aiming for these transformations may be a powerful next step for schools which are already oracy-engaged.
... According to Hattie (2012), the influence of classroom discussion has an effect size of 0.82 on student achievement, ranking it in the top ten influences. Considering individual learners, those who actively engage in talk focused on reasoning are shown to experience stronger academic outcomes (Sedova, 2019). At a piloting school site, secondary educators (n=23) were observed using low depth of knowledge prompts and allowing students to opt out of participation in discussions. ...
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While it is widely accepted that classroom discussion is a high impact teaching practice, in combination with considerations for diversity, accessibility and inclusion; there is little support for practitioners to plan for implementing discussion within their classrooms. The Planning for Academic Discourse Process (PADP) is a five stage process aimed at supporting educators in planning for and reflecting on their classroom discussions. The process was tested at a school site with secondary teachers of all subject areas. Future research should focus on exploring additional populations of teachers and teachers’ perceptions of the process.
Educators must continuously assess and adjust to maximize the amount of information students retain. One way to evaluate teaching effectiveness is thru pre- and post-semester assessments. Factors such as individual willingness to participate can affect the validity of these assessments. Our hypothesis was that students will more actively participate in a group activity compared with written pre- and post-semester assessments. In this study, we evaluated 3 different types of pre- and post-assessments to assess knowledge retention and participation. Participation decreased as the semester progressed resulting in only 31 of 57 students who completed all 6 of the assessments. There was an interaction (P < 0.001) between the type (individual, team, or activity) and time of assessment. The percentage of correct answers increased (P < 0.001) between pre-semester (average 32.92 ± 1.58) and post-semester assessments (average 47.54 ± 1.58). There was a correlation (P = 0.04) between the final course grade and the post-semester individual written assessment. In conclusion, participation throughout the semester is a major issue in assessing teaching quality and knowledge retention and the utilization of group activities does not appear to impact that participation. However, the best assessment for knowledge learned remains the classical written individual assessment.
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Teacher education has a long tradition of prescriptive curriculum-based and skills-centered models that convey simplistic conceptualisations of teacher learning. Only recently, this trend has shifted towards promoting teachers' agency in their own professional development. In this work, we reflected on the challenges faced while building one partnership based on teachers' inquiry during and over the pandemic. The intervention was targeted to promote classroom dialogue and should have employed the use of video recordings to capture and analyze teachers' practice. The main point addressed here was the teachers' tacit rejection of the video recording and the building of a new tool. Moreover, the cordial culture among teachers and researchers did not offer space for critical reflection on practice. Overall, despite the school leadership being willing and committed to the programme, the implementation revealed how the schooling system does not value or create conditions for TPD.
Hand-raising signals students’ willingness to participate actively in the classroom discourse. It has been linked to academic achievement and cognitive engagement of students and constitutes an observable indicator of behavioral engagement. However, due to the large amount of effort involved in manual hand-raising annotation by human observers, research on this phenomenon, enabling teachers to understand and foster active classroom participation, is still scarce. An automated detection approach of hand-raising events in classroom videos can offer a time- and cost-effective substitute for manual coding. From a technical perspective, the main challenges for automated detection in the classroom setting are diverse camera angles and student occlusions. In this work, we propose utilizing and further extending a novel view-invariant, occlusion-robust machine learning approach with long short-term memory networks for hand-raising detection in classroom videos based on body pose estimation. We employed a dataset stemming from 36 real-world classroom videos, capturing 127 students from grades 5 to 12 and 2442 manually annotated authentic hand-raising events. Our temporal model trained on body pose embeddings achieved an \(F_{1}\) score of 0.76. When employing this approach for the automated annotation of hand-raising instances, a mean absolute error of 3.76 for the number of detected hand-raisings per student, per lesson was achieved. We demonstrate its application by investigating the relationship between hand-raising events and self-reported cognitive engagement, situational interest, and involvement using manually annotated and automatically detected hand-raising instances. Furthermore, we discuss the potential of our approach to enable future large-scale research on student participation, as well as privacy-preserving data collection in the classroom context.KeywordsHand-raising detectionStudent EngagementEducational TechnologiesAI in Education
Dialogic talk affords students opportunities to share ideas and co‐construct knowledge while developing various literacy skills such as perspective taking, text comprehension, and argumentative reasoning. In this study, we examine how seventh‐ and eighth‐grade students in four classrooms discuss a controversial topic about changing a National Football League team's controversial name and analyze their discursive roles using thematic content analysis. We provide dynamic profiles of student speakers, including those who take on primary, secondary, tertiary, and periphery roles within discussions. We also discuss how these roles shift and provide implications for teachers who engage students dialogically around controversial, yet essential, topics.
Background Verbal participation in the classroom is generally considered to contribute to positive student engagement and learning outcomes. Students are often required to demonstrate their learning in class by, for example, raising their hands and answering questions. However, there are students who remain quiet in the classroom, and are not responsive to invitations to participate. As quietness and low levels of verbal participation in class are often perceived and positioned as problematic in many educational systems and settings, more needs to be understood about the notion of students’ verbal participation and the implications for supporting all students’ learning journeys through school. Purpose The study sought to explore how students’ verbal participation was constructed and positioned in the narratives of parent-teacher conferences. Method A Swedish corpus of audio recordings and transcriptions of parent-teacher conferences with 24 students in years 5 and 6 (approximate student ages 10–12) across five schools was utilised as the basis for the investigation. Through an interactionally-oriented narrative approach, a collection of stories about verbal participation was identified. These stories were analysed using the concept of narrative positioning. Three stories from the collection were selected to demonstrate, in greater depth, aspects of how students’ verbal participation was constructed and how discourses unfolded. Findings The analysis demonstrated diversity in terms of how discourses were employed and how students were positioned in the narratives about verbal participation. Prevalent discourses drew on notions of learning, affect and assessment and were identified as pedagogical, psychological and performative discourses. Conclusions The study highlights how verbal participation tends to be constructed as an individual undertaking, with the implication being that students are assigned individual responsibility for this. As students are usually encouraged to make the most of their verbal participation in class, the study gives rise to important and complex questions in terms of challenging assumptions about how best to support student learning, particularly in the case of students who remain quiet in the classroom.
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This paper argues that children represent one vanguard of an emergent shift in Western subjectivity, and that adult-child dialogue, especially in the context of schooling, is a key locus for the epistemological change that implies. Following Herbert Marcuse's invocation of a "new sensibility," the author argues that the evolutionary phenomenon of neoteny-the long formative period of human childhood and the pedomorphic character of humans across the life cycle-makes of the adult-collective of school a primary site for the reconstruction of belief. After exploring child-adult dialogue more broadly as a form of dialectical interaction between what Dewey called "impulse" and "habit," three key dimensions of dialogic schooling are identified, all of which are grounded in a fourth: the form of dialogical group discourse called community of philosophical inquiry (CPI), which is based on the problematization and reconstruction of concepts through critical argumentation. As a discourse-model, CPI grounds practice in all of the dialogic school's emergent curricular spaces, whether science, or mathematics, literature, art, or philosophy. Second, it opens a functional space for shared decision-making and collaborative governance, making of school an exemplary model of direct democracy. Finally, CPI as a site for critical interrogation of concepts encountered in the curriculum (e.g. "alive," "justice," "system," "biosphere") and as a site for democratic governance leads naturally to expression in activist projects that model an emergent "new reality principle" through concrete solutions to practical problems on local and global levels.
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This paper examines the emotions that eight teachers experienced during intervention research project on the transformation of their teaching practices. During the program which we designed, the teachers were trained to transform their teaching practices so that they would include more features of dialogic education. In this paper, we analyze data from repeated interviews with teachers who participated in our project. Based on qualitative analysis of our data, we differentiated among four groups of teachers, each with a unique self-understanding. The groups included teachers who were: perfect, eager to learn, in a good mood, and uncertain. Our paper shows that each group experienced specific emotions during the program. The only group that did not experience negative emotions was teachers in a good mood. These teachers also implemented the fewest changes in their teaching practices. Our results thus show that a lack of negative emotions limited the efficacy of teacher development.
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Socializing Intelligence Through Academic Talk and Dialogue focuses on a fast-growing topic in education research. Over the course of 34 chapters, the contributors discuss theories and case studies that shed light on the effects of dialogic participation in and outside the classroom. This rich, transdisciplinary endeavor will appeal to scholars and researchers in education and many related disciplines, including learning and cognitive sciences, educational psychology, instructional science, and linguistics, as well as to teachers, curriculum designers, and educational policy makers.
The study used a mixed-methods approach to examine the associations between the quality of educational dialogue and students' academic performance and to analyse what kinds of dialogic teaching patterns of different levels of quality can be identified in classroom lessons. A total of 158 Grade 6 lessons were video-recorded, and the quality of the educational dialogue was assessed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System-Secondary (CLASS-S) observational instrument. Multilevel modelling indicated that the quality of educational dialogue was positively associated with students' academic performance (grades) in language arts and physics/chemistry. Qualitative analysis was subsequently used to examine the quality of the patterns of dialogic teaching in language arts and physics/chemistry lessons (n = 11). The analysis revealed that teacher-initiated patterns were predominant in both subjects and that physics/chemistry lessons were more typically characterised by high-quality educational dialogue than language arts lessons.
Teachers are increasingly called on to use dialogic teaching practices to engage active pupil participation in academically challenging classroom discourse. Such practices are in tension with commonly held beliefs about pupil ability as fixed and/or context independent. Moreover, teaching practices that seek to make pupil thinking visible can also make perceived pupil “inarticulateness” and/or “low ability” visible, with important implications for pupil identities. This article explores how teachers in a dialogic teaching intervention managed the participation and identities of “low ability” pupils. We use linguistic ethnographic methods to analyze three different case studies in which teachers seek to include underachieving pupils’ voices in the discussion and discuss implications for dialogic pedagogy and the study of classroom social identification processes.
Girls' lack of self-belief has frequently been cited as a major barrier to advancement in both empirical research and in the popular imagination. With girls now outcompeting boys at almost every educational level, this paper considers if girls still have lower self-concept than boys, if this changes when controlling for academic ability, and what mechanisms explain gender differences. We compare and contrast rational choice, contrast, and assimilation approaches to self-concept and juxtapose historical trajectories in gender differences in self-concept and achievement to distinguish between them. We do this in five age cohorts born between 1981 and 1993 (N = 66, 522) for math, literacy, and general academic domains. Results suggest that there are still significant differences in self-concept between equally able boys and girls and that a mix of assimilation and contrast mechanisms likely explains the size and direction of these effects.
We explore vocal vs. silent student participation in whole-class mathematics discussion in relation to learning outcomes, relying on additional data analysis from a previously published in vivo controlled comparison in two sixth grades (n = 44) which contrasted an “academically productive talk” (APT) condition (emphasizing frequent discussion) with a “direct instruction” condition (without discussion), where content was tightly controlled across conditions. In the current study, controlling for a variety of factors, we find no relationship between the degree to which students contributed vocally during the lessons, and those students' scores on the outcome measure, in either condition. This finding adds to a growing literature on participation in classroom discussion, and may inform thinking about the multiple constraints faced by teachers as they attempt to orchestrate whole-class discussions. However, we suggest that this result can most confidently be applied to classrooms in which a culture of active participation has already been established.