Toward an Integrated Taxonomy of Teacher Discourse Moves in Small-Group Text-Based Discussions

  • In Event: Roundtable Session 9
    In Roundtable Session: Rethinking Teacher Knowledge: Frameworks and Contexts

Fri, April 8, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D Section C


Small-group discussions about text are common in language arts classrooms. What teachers say during the discussion necessarily affects the content and quality of the discussion. There is a need to learn more about teacher discourse moves and how they influence and promote discussions. In this proposal we: (a) synthesized existing research on teacher moves; (b) iteratively sorted and coded the teacher moves into an integrated taxonomy of teacher moves; and (c) tested the feasibility of the rubric as a coding mechanism. This integrated taxonomy is both practically and theoretically significant. Researchers can utilize the taxonomy to assist in the investigation of the effects of teacher moves in small-group discussions; discussion practitioners can use the taxonomy to enhance their classroom discussions.

Enhancing Students’ Comprehension and Critical-Analytic Thinking Through Quality Talk Discussions

  • In Event: Poster Session 2
    In Poster Session: Division C Section 2a Poster Session 4: Cognitive Processes

Sat, April 9, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, Level Two, Exhibit Hall D


In this presentation we will describe how students’ comprehension and critical-analyitic thinking was enhanced over the course of a small-group classroom discussion intervention called Quality Talk (QT). We model subsequent changes in students’ critical-analytic thinking, high-level comprehension, argumentative writing, and examine the ways in which the QT model influenced classroom discussions. Over the course of the intervention: (a) teachers reduced their role in class discussions, as evidenced by fewer instances of teacher-initiated discourse indicators; (b) students exhibited enhanced critical-analytic thinking, as evidenced by increased student-initiated discourse indicators associated with critical-analytic thinking; and, (c) students displayed improved high-level comprehension and argumentation performance, as evidenced by gains on comprehension and argumentative writing assessments.


See full-size poster: AERA Poster_Year 1

Examining the Effect of Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Grouping in Classroom Discourse

  • In Event: School-Based Education Research in Diverse Democracies in Three Countries

Sat, April 9, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 149 A

Session Type: Invited Speaker Session


Diverse democracies require a literate, educated public who can engage in thoughtful, informed discourse about complex issues. Unfortunately, global literacy scores indicate that a majority of students are not sufficiently prepared for such discourse (Kelly et al., 2013). Research has shown that classroom discourse can promote basic comprehension, but only particular kinds of discourse are likely to promote the kind of higher-order critical-analytic thinking necessary for effective democratic participation (Murphy et al., 2009). To address this need, we have developed and studied Quality Talk (QT; Murphy, Wilkinson, & Soter, 2011), which is a model of small-group classroom discussion that includes instructional materials on effective discourse, professional development for teachers to implement this model, and assessments that capture changes in both comprehension and critical-analytic thinking. Our ongoing research has shown gains in students’ literacy skills commensurate with involvement in QT (Firetto et al., 2015). In this study we investigated whether these gains differed across different types of student grouping.
We implemented QT in two fourth-grade (n = 28) and two fifth-grade (n = 33) classrooms in a school in the northeastern United States. Oral fluency scores, collected at the beginning of the school year and prior to the QT intervention, were used to classify students as being low, medium, or high performers at that time. Students were matched by performance and then randomly assigned to either homogeneous discussion groups (e.g., all low performers, all medium performers, etc.) or heterogeneous groups (e.g., a mix of low, medium, and high performers).
Two kinds of assessments were used to track students’ literacy performance over the course of QT. At three time points over the course of the academic year, students read a different short text and then completed a multiple-choice comprehension assessment. They also wrote a persuasive essay based upon a prompt about the text. On average, over the course of the intervention students in both grade levels displayed a statistically and practically significant increase on both assessments (i.e., all p-values less than .05, Cohen’s d values ranging from .27 to .83).
Mixed effects ANOVA results showed no statistically significant difference in the growth trend between homogeneously and heterogeneously grouped students, in both grades. We also collected feedback from the teachers on their perceptions of the grouping. While responses were mixed, in general teachers felt that homogeneous grouping was more beneficial overall for reading comprehension, but homogeneous groups were also more challenging to facilitate. On the other hand, some teachers reported there was lower overall discussion quality in the low performing homogeneous group.
Should this proposal be accepted, in the final paper and presentation we will present quantitative findings along with qualitative analyses of videotaped discourse that further illustrate how students with differing oral fluency performance interacted in heterogeneous and homogeneous groups. In sum, we have found evidence that type of grouping does not have a large-scale effect on literacy gains while engaged in QT but particular subgroups of students experience such grouping in differing, important ways.

Measuring Reading Comprehension Through Automated Analysis of Students’ Small-Group Discussions (NCME)

Saturday, April 9 from 2:15-3:45pm in the Mount Vernon Square room

Audra Kosh1, 2, Jeffrey Greene1, Karen Murphy3, Hal Burdick2, Carla Firetto3, Jeff Elmore2

1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill   2MetaMetrics, Inc.   3The Pennsylvania State University

The Malleability of Relational Reasoning: Effects of Direct or Indirect Interventions on Learning Processes and Outcomes

Sun, April 10, 8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, Level One, Room 144 B

Session Type: Symposium


Relational reasoning, or the ability to discern meaningful patterns within any stream of information, is a foundational cognitive ability associated with academic success. However, the degree to which relational reasoning can be enhanced or encouraged by educators is still an under-researched question within the educational and psychological literatures. In this symposium, researchers present findings from classroom-based intervention studies in which relational reasoning was a measured outcome. Results show that relational reasoning may be a highly malleable cognitive factor that can be statistically and practically improved as a result of certain instructional practices.

Using Quality Talk to Foster Transfer of Students’ Critical-Analytic Discussions to Their Argumentative Writing

  • In Event: Oral and Written Argumentation

Sun, April 10, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 144 C

Session Type: Paper Session


Quality Talk (QT) is an approach to small-group, text-based discussion that supports students’ critical-analytic thinking and high-level comprehension. Students are explicitly taught how to generate strong oral arguments, and they practice co-constructing oral arguments during weekly QT discussions. Research is needed to identify the extent to which students transfer their newly acquired oral argumentation skills into written argumentation. In the proposed presentation we will overview two studies. First, we considered the transfer effect of QT on written argumentation; two classes evidenced improved written argumentation performance after QT. Second, students who subsequently received writing transfer support scored statistically and practically significantly higher in written argumentation, compared to students not receiving the writing transfer support. Implications for research and practice are forwarded.


Quality Talk Research Re-Contextualized for South Africa

Updated on Oct 2, 2015

pic 1

From the left: Sechaba Mahlomaholo (University of the Free State, South Africa),
Karen Murphy (Pennsylvania State University, United States of America), Dipane
Hlalele (EASA Chair-Elect, University of the Free State, South Africa) and Sari
Lindblom-Ylänne (WERA President-Elect, University of Helsinki, Finland).

pic 2

From the left: Ronél Ferreira (EASA Chair-Elect, University of Pretoria, South
Africa), Liesel Ebersöhn (Executive Editor: South African Journal of Education,
WERA (Secretary General-Elect), University of Pretoria, South Africa), Karen
Murphy (Pennsylvania State University, United States of America), Sari Lindblom-
Ylänne (WERA President-Elect, University of Helsinki, Finland), Irma Eloff
(University of Pretoria) and Ruth Mampane (University of Pretoria).

Updated on Feb 18, 2015

Education Program Encourages Students to Talk Their Way to Higher Comprehension

[Click to enlarge image]

1314AnnualReport_PKMExcerpt (1)_Page_1

1314AnnualReport_PKMExcerpt (1)_Page_2

Extracted from The Social Science Research Institute ANNUAL REPORT 2013 – 2014.

Relevant Link:   (pp. 13-14)

 Updated on Jan 8, 2015

Murphy presents on her NSF-funded research on group talk in science classrooms

       “P. Karen Murphy (Pennsylvania State University) presented her research on Quality Talk Science, funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). Quality Talk provides professional development for physics and chemistry teachers in high-need schools in Pennsylvania to encourage higher level thinking among students and engage their interest through student-led class discussions.”




Relevant Links:

AERA Features Innovative Research at Capitol Hill Exhibition

Murphy presents on her NSF-funded research on group talk in science classrooms

  Updated on May 7, 2014

Skip to toolbar