Controversies and consensus in research on dialogic teaching and learning

Christa S. C. Asterhan, Christine Howe, Adam Lefstein, Eugene Matusov, Alina Reznitskaya


Scholarly interest in dialogic pedagogy and classroom dialogue is multi-disciplinary and draws on a variety of theoretical frameworks. On the positive side, this has produced a rich and varied body of research and evidence. However, in spite of a common interest in educational dialogue and learning through dialogue, cross-disciplinary engagement with each other’s work is rare. Scholarly discussions and publications tend to be clustered in separate communities, each characterized by a particular type of research questions, aspects of dialogue they focus on, type of evidence they bring to bear, and ways in which standards for rigor are constructed. In the present contribution, we asked four leading scholars from different research traditions to react to four provocative statements that were deliberately designed to reveal areas of consensus and disagreement[1]. Topic-wise, the provocations related to theoretical foundations, methodological assumptions, the role of teachers, and issues of inclusion and social class, respectively. We hope that these contributions will stimulate cross- and trans-disciplinary discussions about dialogic pedagogy research and theory.

[1] The authors of this article are five scholars, the dialogic provocateur and the four respondents. The order of appearance of the authors was determined alphabetically.


dialogic pedagogy; controversy; multi-disciplinary; classroom dialogue; teaching.

Full Text:



Gregory, M. (2007). Normative dialogue types in philosophy for children. Gifted Education International, 22, 160-171.

Howe, C., & Abedin, M. (2013). Classroom dialogue: A systematic review across four decades of research. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43, 325-356.

Howe, C., Hennessy, S., Mercer, N., Vrikki, M., & Wheatley, L. (2019). Teacher-student dialogue during classroom teaching: Does it really impact upon student outcomes? Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1-51.

Howe, C., & Zachariou, A. (2019). Small-group collaboration and individual knowledge acquisition: The processes of growth during adolescence and early adulthood. Learning and Instruction, 60, 263-274.

Labaree, D. F. (2000). On the nature of teaching and teacher education - Difficult practices that look easy. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(3), 228-233.

Lefstein, A. (2010). More helpful as problem than solution: Some implications of situating dialogue in classrooms. In K. Littleton & C. Howe (Eds.), Educational dialogues: understanding and promoting productive interaction (pp. 170-191). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Lefstein, A., & Snell, J. (2014). Better than best practice: Developing teaching and learning through dialogue. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Matusov, E., & Marjanovic-Shane, A. (2016). Radical Proposal for Educational Pluralism and The State’s Educational Neutrality Policy. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 4. doi:

Matusov, E., & Marjanovic-Shane, A. (2018). Teaching as dialogic conceptual art. Knowledge Cultures, 6(2), 9-27. doi:10.22381/KC6220182

Matusov, E., Marjanovic-Shane, A., Kullenberg, T., & Curtis, K. (2019). Dialogic analysis vs. discourse analysis of dialogic pedagogy: Social science research in the era of positivism and post-truth. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 7, E20-E62. doi:10.5195/dpj.2019.272

Matusov, E., Marjanovic-Shane, A., & Gradovski, M. (2019). Dialogic pedagogy and polyphonic research art: Bakhtin by and for educators. Palgrave Macmillan.

McDermott, R. P., & Tylbor, H. (1983). On the necessity of collusion in conversation. Text, 3(3), 277-297.

Nystrand, M., Gamoran, A., Kachur, R., & Prendergast, C. (1997). Opening dialogue: understanding the dynamics of language and learning in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.

O’Connor, C., & Snow, C. E. (2018). Classroom discourse: What do we need to know for research and for practice? In M. Schober, A. Britt, & D. Rapp (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Processes (2nd ed., pp. 315-342). New York: Routledge.

O'Connor, M. C., & Michaels, S. (1993). Aligning academic task and participation status through revoicing: Analysis of a classroom discourse strategy. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 24(4), 318-335.

Prøysen, A. (1961). The goat that learned to count. St. Louis, MO: Webster

Rampton, B. (2006). Language in Late Modernity: Interaction in an Urban School. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Snell, J. (2013). Dialect, interaction and class positioning at school: From deficit to difference to repertoire. Language and Education, 27(2), 110-128.

Snell, J., & Lefstein, A. (2018). “Low ability,” participation, and identity in dialogic pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 55(1), 40-78.

Walton, D. (1998). The new dialectic: Conversational contexts of argument. Toronto, CA: University of Toronto Press.

Williams (Ed.). (1970). Language and poverty: Perspectives on a theme. Chicago: Markham Publishing Company.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Christa S. C. Asterhan, Christine Howe, Adam Lefstein, Eugene Matusov, Alina Reznitskaya

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.