University of Illinois at Chicago
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Coding System for Identifying Agency and Authority Relationships Between Teachers and Students in Classroom Discussions

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posted on 2023-07-02, 03:37 authored by Kathleen PitvorecKathleen Pitvorec

This presentation provides an introduction to the coding system that was used to characterize the teacher and student turns of talk during classroom discussions with respect to their function in sense-making and knowledge building. We specifically wanted to capture relationships of agency and authority as manifest in sequences of turns of talk. One of the challenges teachers experience in moving from monologic to dialogic PDD is learning to recognize when to deploy different types of talk moves that research has shown to foster student thinking (e.g., O’Connor & Michaels, 1996). We sought to develop a coding system that would enable us to reflect this learning as manifest in action as the teacher facilitated classroom discussion. We consulted a variety of existing systems for coding classroom talk (see e.g., Clarke et al. 2016; Correnti et al., 2015; Hennessy et al., 2016; Mercer et al., 1999; Nystrand, Gomoran, et al., 1997; Nystrand, Wu, et al., 2003; Wood et al., 2006) to derive the Agency and Authority Relationships between Teachers and Students (AARTS) coding system, depicted in Table 1. This system entails six course-grained codes for students and six for teachers to reflect significant differences in function with respect to establishing a culture of dialogic discussion that supports PDD. The codes are ordered to reflect functions of turns of talk that at one end are consistent with monologic discourse (T1, S1) and at the other with dialogic PDD (T6, S6). For example, descriptors T1 and T2 indicate that teacher turns of talk are doing all of the intellectual heavy lifting; descriptors T3 and T4 indicate that teacher turns of talk are supporting students in limited engagement with the intellectual work of the discipline; descriptors T5 and T6 indicate that teacher turns of talk function to facilitate and orchestrate student sense making thereby shifting authority for what counts as important disciplinary ideas. For students, descriptors S1 and S2 indicate no agency or authority on the part of the students with respect to disciplinary content or sense making; they are simply listening and responding to the teacher’s agenda. Descriptor S3 indicates that student turns of talk put their ideas into the interactional space. S4 indicates initial efforts of students to engage with the ideas of their peers. Descriptors S5 and S6 indicate that student turns of talk function to build on and challenge each other’s disciplinary ideas, taking up agency for guiding their own learning. The coding system was applied to classroom discussions in each of three disciplinary areas – mathematics, literary reading, and science. The descriptors enabled reliability across coders; however, decisions regarding descriptors of both teacher and student turns of talk depended on coders’ understanding of the discipline, including inquiry methods as well as key concepts and principles, along with careful consideration of what students’ turns of talk indicated about their sensemaking and problem-solving efforts in the discipline. Thus, while the coding system can be applied to classroom discussions in multiple disciplines, appropriate use of it requires disciplinary and disciplinary pedagogical content knowledge.

Presented at AERA 2022


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