Classroom interaction and student learning: Reasoned dialogue versus reasoned opposition

Main Article Content

Christine Howe


Analyses of classroom interaction have frequently spotlighted reasoned dialogue as beneficial for student learning, and research into small-group activity amongst students offers empirical support. However, the evidence relating to teacher-student interaction has never been compelling, and one of the few studies to investigate the issue directly detected no relation whatsoever between reasoned dialogue and learning outcomes. The present paper outlines additional data from that study, together with evidence from elsewhere, with a view to interpreting the results relating to reasoned dialogue. Account is taken of the generally positive evidence obtained from studies of group work amongst students. The key proposal is that it may be reasoned opposition that promotes learning rather than reasoned dialogue in general, and reasoned opposition is probably rare when teachers are involved. The proposal has implications for both the dialogic and the argumentation perspective upon classroom interaction, and these are discussed.

Article Details

How to Cite
Howe, C. (2023). Classroom interaction and student learning: Reasoned dialogue versus reasoned opposition. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 11(3), A26-A41.
Author Biography

Christine Howe, University of Cambridge, UK

Christine Howe is Professor of Education (Emerita) at the University of Cambridge. Her research has been at the intersection of psychology, education, and linguistics, with major interests including children’s communicative, linguistic and peer relational skills, child and adolescent reasoning in science and mathematics, and dialogue and learning during peer collaboration and teacher-led instruction. Christine’s research has received more-or-less continuous funding from the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain for over 30 years, with research support also won from British Academy, Leverhulme, Nuffield, and various governmental and local authority sources. She has published seven books and over 200 peer-reviewed articles and chapters and has acted as editor for three academic journals while also serving on many editorial boards. She has held strategic appointments at the local, national, and international levels in relation to research and doctoral/post-doctoral training. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.


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