Patterns of discourse in two kinds of literature discussion

Clark A. Chinn, Richard C. Anderson, Martha A. Waggoner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the effects of two different instructional frames for discussion - traditional Recitations and an alternative to Recitations called Collaborative Reasoning - on patterns of discourse in fourth-grade literature discussions. These two instructional frames differ on four key parameters that define an instructional frame: (a) the stance to be taken, (b) who holds interpretive authority, (c) who controls turntaking, and (d) who controls the topic of the discourse. Two research questions were addressed. The first question was whether it is possible for fourth-grade teachers and their students to implement Collaborative Reasoning, an instructional frame that transfers much of the control over discourse to students, during their reading lessons. Quantitative analyses were conducted of features of discourse including turntaking, teacher questions, and cognitive processes manifested in students' talk. The results showed that the teachers and students were generally successful at implementing the new instructional frame. It proved more difficult to shift control over topic and turntaking to students than to shift interpretive authority to students. The second question addressed the effects of the new instructional frame on patterns of discourse. In comparison to Recitations, Collaborative Reasoning discussions produced greater engagement and more extensive use of several higher level cognitive processes. The results provide support for the use of Collaborative Reasoning in fourth-grade reading lessons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-411
Number of pages34
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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