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Ten Australian Elementary Teachers' Discourse and Reported Pedagogical Practices during Cooperative Learning

Robyn M. Gillies and Michael Boyle
The Elementary School Journal
Vol. 106, No. 5 (May 2006), pp. 429-452
DOI: 10.1086/505439
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/505439
Page Count: 24
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Ten Australian Elementary Teachers' Discourse and Reported Pedagogical Practices during Cooperative Learning
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Abstract

Abstract This article describes the types of discourse 10 Australian grade 4–6 teachers used after they had been trained to embed cooperative learning in their curriculum and to use communication skills to promote students' thinking and to scaffold their learning. One audiotaped classroom social science lesson involving cooperative learning was analyzed for each teacher. We provide vignettes from 2 teachers as they worked with groups and from 2 student groups. The data from the audiotapes showed that the teachers used a range of mediated‐learning behaviors in their interactions with the children that included challenging their perspectives, asking more cognitive and metacognitive questions, and scaffolding their learning. In turn, in their interactions with each other, the children modelled many of the types of discourse they heard their teachers use. Follow‐up interviews with the teachers revealed that they believed it was important to set expectations for children's group behaviors, teach the social skills students needed to deal with disagreement in groups, and establish group structures so children understood what was required both from each other and the task. The teachers reported that mixed ability and gender groups worked best and that groups should be no larger than 5 students. All teachers' programs were based on a child‐centered philosophy that recognized the importance of constructivist approaches to learning and the key role interaction plays in promoting social reasoning and learning.

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