WP77 Computer-assisted systematic observation of classroom discourse & interaction

Snell & Lefstein
Collection: Key word


This report details methods and findings from the computer-assisted systematic observation component of the ESRC-funded Towards Dialogue: A Linguistic Ethnographic Study of Classroom Interaction and Change project. The background to this research is the widespread advocacy of dialogic teaching, on the one hand, alongside the relative stability over time of traditional (largely monologic) classroom interactional patterns, on the other. In this paper we explore this phenomenon through computer-assisted systematic observation of the literacy lessons of three teachers in one East London Primary School. This method is used (1) to situate the corpus of lessons (by comparing with a national sample), (2) to examine processes of change in classroom patterns over time, and (3) to investigate correlations between relative dialogicality and other key variables (especially teacher and pedagogic activity). The report ends with some reflections on the advantages and disadvantages of systematic observation in relation to other methods for the study of classroom discourse.