Kay Grabow's scientific contributions
The goal of this study was to evaluate instructional influences on the storytelling of English Language Learners (ELLs). Participants were 210 fifth-grade Spanish-speaking ELLs (mean age = 10.8) from schools serving low-income neighborhoods in the Midwest of the United States. They received a six-week socio-scientific unit involving collaborative group work or direct instruction, or were in control classes that continued regular instruction. In an essay to evaluate mastery of the instructional unit, students from collaborative groups produced significantly longer chains of reasoning (more chains with 5–8 links) than direct instruction students (more chains with 3 or 4 links), while control students were unable to display any extended reasoning. Following the unit, students individually told a story prompted by a wordless picture book to evaluate their oral English proficiency. The stories were coded for several features of basic language production, story completeness, and multi-link causal reasoning. The results indicated that students who received the socio-scientific unit told stories with more complicated syntax than the control students, while no difference in complexity of syntax was observed between students from the two instructional conditions. Stories told by students who had participated in collaborative groups contained significantly more elaboration of essential story elements than the stories produced by direct instruction students or control students. Students who had interacted in collaborative groups also generated significantly longer chains of reasoning (many 5–7 link chains) connecting story events than students in the other two conditions (mostly 1 or 2 link chains). The results suggest collaborative group work may be an effective instructional approach to foster ELLs' communicative competence and causal reasoning.
Instructional influences on productive use of academic vocabulary were investigated among 460 mostly African American and Latina/o fifth graders from 36 classrooms in eight public schools serving low-income families. Students received a six-week unit on wolf management involving collaborative group work (CG) or direct instruction (DI). The big question that students tried to answer during the unit was whether a community should be permitted to destroy a pack of wolves. In an individual oral interview about an analogue to the wolf question, whether whaling should be allowed, both CG and DI students used more general and domain-specific academic vocabulary from the Wolf Unit than uninstructed control students. CG students used more general academic vocabulary in the whale interview than DI students, and this was mediated by the CG students’ greater use of general academic vocabulary in classroom dialogue during the Wolf Unit. These results suggest that collaborative group work is an effective instructional approach to promote acquisition and productive use of academic vocabulary for children from underserved communities.
This research examined the influence of contrasting instructional approaches on children’s decision-making competence. A total of 764 fifth graders, mostly African Americans and Hispanic Americans, from 36 classrooms in eight public schools serving children from low-income families completed a six-week unit on wolf management, using either direct instruction or collaborative groups, or were waited-listed controls. Analysis of children’s essays on a topic unrelated to wolves revealed that students who participated in collaborative groups but not students who received direct instruction acquired decision-making strategies and transferred them to the novel task. Students in collaborative group work classrooms wrote essays that were significantly better than essays of students from direct instruction classrooms in each of the three aspects of decision making that were evaluated—considering more than one side of a dilemma, comprehensiveness of reasons, and weighing the importance of reasons. In contrast, direct instruction students performed no better than uninstructed control students.
... ial issues with conceptual or procedural links to science (Sadler, 2004). Research evidence suggests that the use of 551 curriculum improves student understanding of science concepts (e.g., Kinslow et al., 2017;Sadler, Roniine, & Topcu, 2016). decision making skills ( Gutierez. 20t5;Zhang ci aL, 2016), and academic vocabulary use in oral discourse (Ma et. al., 2017). The space exploration issue was chosen in the DISCUSS project based on four criteria: a) relevance and interest to students, b) science content behind the issue, c) accessible ethical tensions, and d) alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Partnering with district science leadership teams and teachers., the DISCUS ...
... Empirical studies confirm that dialogue does in fact help students to develop higher-order thinking, with improvements recorded in students' non-verbal reasoning (Wegerif, Mercer & Dawes 1999), generation of relevant arguments, counter-arguments and rebuttals ( Dong et al. 2010;Kuhn, Shaw & Felton 1997;Reznitskaya et al. 2001), and generalisable knowledge of argumentation schemas (Reznitskaya et al. 2009; see also Dong et al. 2010). Other recorded impacts of dialogue on higher-order thinking include increased use of evidence ( Chinn et al. 2001), greater competence in weighing the importance of reasons ( Zhang et al. 2016), fuller consideration of alternative perspectives ( Chinn et al. 2001;Kuhn, Shaw & Felton 1997;Zhang et al. 2016) and more frequent use of analogical reasoning ( Lin et al. 2012). ...