Making Critical Thinking Explicit and Visible with Dialogic Scaffolding
It is hard to imagine a classroom without talk. As teachers scaffold learning, they are found to be most effective when they control the dialogue between students and themselves. However, the examination of dialogic interactions among the tutor and students in providing scaffolds to promote learning and developmental processes is still an area that is underrepresented in the literature. While many studies have tended to focus on dialogic scaffolding (DS) of learning content, there is a growing recognition to explore DS in the cultivation of thinking in student. In developing students’ critical thinking (CT) skills, tutors have generally adopted the approach of integrating general principles of CT in instruction and assessment. However, students have reported a disconnect between the amount of CT tutors believed they had integrated in their instruction and the amount of CT development students perceived they received. Hence, the argument for making CT more explicit and visible, by adopting the Paul-Elder CT framework, through DS in instruction. This workshop is based on a research study investigating the use of DS to develop CT skills and promote deeper understanding. Transcribed classroom discourse from lesson observations and online forum discussions of a critical thinking and writing module were analysed as I sought to investigate how the utilisation of scaffolding strategies can be adopted to achieve a dialogic approach to developing students’ CT skills. The study utilised an analytical approach, which employed ‘codes’ that are derived from DS and CT literature. Findings suggest that while DS played a central role in mediating learning, the explicit adoption of CT tools contributed to the development of higher criticality in thought. Participants of the workshop will be taken through short exercises to analyse sample lesson excerpts (videos and transcriptions). Through a close examination of the data, they will discuss the strengths of the enacted lessons and offer recommendations. It is hoped that participants will learn key strategies to engage in DS in their own classrooms, regardless of subject/level, to help students development CT skills.