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Exploring and developing domain-specific reasoning in primary English

OLIVER, MICHAELA (2020) Exploring and developing domain-specific reasoning in primary English. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The importance of teaching reasoning in schools is widely recognised. Yet this has presented teachers with difficulties, particularly in primary education. This partially stems from the lack of cohesive theory about reasoning for education, and the lack of specificity about it in the English National Curriculum. This research aims to stimulate explicit teaching of reasoning in primary English lessons. Drawing on socio-cultural theory and cognitive history, a theoretical framework of five reasoning ‘styles’ important within English has been constructed.

Four main task structures were developed to explore the feasibility of targeting three reasoning styles in English lessons: genre-based reasoning (GRE), analogy-based reasoning (ARE) and language-based reasoning (LRE). Exploratory activities were used with groups of KS2 students from five classes across two schools. Two main group types were audio-recorded: researcher-supported and independent groups.

Transcripts of 25 audio recordings from 11 lessons were coded using an adapted version of the Cambridge Dialogue Analysis Scheme (CDAS). Additional codes were developed to operationalise domain-specific reasoning in English. Examples of reasoning turns were analysed using the SOLO taxonomy to indicate the level of understanding demonstrated. The theoretical framework of reasoning styles and the accompanying coding instrument represent original contributions to existing research.

Three main findings emerge from data gathered during the exploratory investigation. First, the three reasoning styles targeted in the empirical phase of the study are realisable in the primary classroom; they can be promoted, captured, operationalised, and measured. Findings indicate that students participating in these collaborative activities spent, on average, about one fifth of the total discussion engaging in domain-specific reasoning. Second, proportions of domain-specific reasoning appear to vary according to task structure used. Odd one out and diamond ranking tasks tended to promote domain-specific reasoning most readily. Third, proportions of domain-specific reasoning appear to vary according to the presence or absence of adult support in groups. Usually, having adult support increased the likelihood of students engaging in domain-specific reasoning in English.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Reasoning", "domain-specific reasoning", "reasoning styles", "primary English", "task structures"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Nov 2020 08:06

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