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Supporting group work in Scottish primary classrooms : improving the quality of collaborative dialogue

Christie, D. and Tolmie, Andrew and Thurston, Allen and Howe, Christine and Topping, Keith J. (2009) Supporting group work in Scottish primary classrooms : improving the quality of collaborative dialogue. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39 (1). pp. 141-156. ISSN 0305-764X

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Abstract

A large body of research has demonstrated the value of fostering peer interaction in the context of collaborative group work as an effective strategy to facilitate learning. The present study attempted to enable teachers in a varied sample of 24 Scottish primary classrooms to improve the quality of collaborative group work interaction among their pupils. Observations were carried out at three time points during the year of the intervention, both during whole class teaching and planned group work activity. A global rating instrument was also used to evaluate the overall quality of classroom environment created by participating class teachers to support group work sessions. The results showed significant increases both in the observed frequencies of children's collaborative dialogue and in the rated quality of classroom learning environments over the course of the study. The implications of these results are discussed in the context of current curricular reform.