Interchangeable Positions in Interaction Sequences in Science Classrooms

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Carol Rees
Wolff-Michael Roth


Triadic dialogue, the Initiation, Response, Evaluation sequence typical of teacher /student interactions in classrooms, has long been identified as a barrier to students’ access to learning, including science learning. A large body of research on the subject has over the years led to projects and policies aimed at increasing opportunities for students to learn through interactive dialogue in classrooms. However, the triadic dialogue pattern continues to dominate, even when teachers intend changing this. Prior quantitative research on the subject has focused on identifying independent variables such as style of teacher questioning that have an impact, while qualitative researchers have worked to interpret the use of dialogue within the whole context of work in the classroom. A recent paper offers an alternative way to view the triadic dialogue pattern and its origin; the triadic dialogue pattern is an irreducible social phenomenon that arises in a particular situation regardless of the identity of the players who inhabit the roles in the turn-taking sequence (Roth & Gardner, 2012). According to this perspective, alternative patterns of dialogue would exist which are alternative irreducible social phenomena that arise in association with different situations. The aim of this paper is to examine as precisely as possible, the characteristics of dialogue patterns in a seventh-eighth grade classroom during science inquiry, and the precise situations from which these dialogue patterns emerge, regardless of the staffing (teacher or students) in the turn-taking sequence. Three different patterns were identified each predominating in a particular situation. This fine-grained analysis could offer valuable insights into ways to support teachers working to alter the kinds of dialogue patterns that arise in their classrooms.

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How to Cite
Rees, C., & Roth, W.-M. (2017). Interchangeable Positions in Interaction Sequences in Science Classrooms. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 5.
Author Biographies

Carol Rees, Thompson Rivers University

Carol Rees is an Associate Professor at Thompson Rivers University conducting research in the area on science inquiry education and classroom talk, both in schools and informal settings. She investigates ways that science inquiry experiences are student-led and how best to help teachers provide such experiences for their students.


Wolff-Michael Roth, University of Victoria

Wolff-Michael Roth is a learning scientist at the University of Victoria conducting research on how people across the life span know and learn mathematics and science. He has contributed to numerous fields of research: learning science in learning communities, coteaching, authentic school science education, cultural-historical activity theory, social studies of science, gesture studies,qualitative research methods, embodied cognitionsituated cognition, and the role of language in learning science and mathematics. 

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