What do we want to know?
In mathematics lessons in England in Key Stages 2 to 3, what characterises effective teacher-initiated teacher-pupil dialogue to promote conceptual understanding in mathematics?
Who wants to know and why?
This review was commissioned by the DCSF (formerly, the DfES) and will be of interest to all those concerned with the role of teacher-pupil dialogue in promoting pupils’ conceptual understanding of mathematics.
What did we find?
It is the Review Group’s view that the in-depth analysis of the included studies indicated the following:
- Traditional initiation-response-feedback (IRF) discourse dominated teacher-initiated teacher-pupil dialogue in mathematics lessons.
- Researchers investigating aspects of classroom discourse all argued that the quality of teacher-initiated teacher-pupil dialogue to promote pupils’ conceptual understanding of mathematics needed to be improved.
- There were eight possible characteristics of effective teacher-initiated teacher-pupil dialogue: going beyond IRF; focusing attention on mathematics rather than performativity; working collaboratively with pupils; transformative listening; scaffolding; enhancing pupils’ self-knowledge of how to make use of teacher-pupil dialogue as a learning experience; encouraging high quality pupil dialogue; and inclusive teaching. However, few studies provided evidence that such characteristics actually led to the promotion of pupils’ conceptual understanding of mathematics.
- The strongest evidence of the promotion of pupils’ conceptual understanding of mathematics came from studies that focused on the enhancement of pupils’ self-knowledge concerning how to make use of teacher-pupil dialogue as a learning experience.
What are the implications?
A limitation of this review was the paucity of evidence concerning the effect of these eight identified characteristics on promoting pupils’ conceptual understanding mathematics. Policymakers, practitioners and researchers need to consider how classroom practice can incorporate high quality teacher-initiated teacher-pupil dialogue.
How did we get these results?
The findings are based on an in-depth analysis of 15 studies.
The EPPI Centre’s reference numbers for this report are 1604T (Technical Report) and 1604R (Report). The full citation is:
Kyriacou C, Issitt J (2008) What characterises effective teacher-initiated teacher-pupil dialogue to promote conceptual understanding in mathematics lessons in England in Key Stages 2 and 3: a systematic review. Technical report. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.