A collaborative dialogic inquiry approach to improving students’ use of vocabulary in reflective writing

A collaborative dialogic inquiry approach to improving students’ use of vocabulary in reflective writing

First Author: Ming-Yi Hsieh -- National Chiao Tung University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Tzu-Jung Lin; Rebecca Sallade
Keywords: Collaborative dialogic inquiry, vocabulary learning, Group discussion, Collaborative social reasoning
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. Vocabulary knowledge plays pivotal roles in students’ academic learning and social life (Bierman et al., 2008; Lesaux, Kieffer, Kelley, & Harris, 2014; Santiago-Poventud et al., 2015). A collaborative dialogic inquiry approach called Collaborative Social Reasoning (CSR) was rooted in the social learning literature (Cohen & Lotan, 1995; Cole & Wertsch, 1996; Wegerif, Mercer, & Dawes, 1999) that stressed the importance of dialogic inquiry and social participation in students’ language, cognitive, and social-moral development. This study examined the impacts of CSR discussions about complex social-moral issues on students’ use of academic, relational, social, and emotional vocabulary in writing.

Method. Fifth-grade students (120 males and 130 females) from 12 classrooms located in two public middle schools in the Midwestern United States participated in this six-week quasi-experimental study. Classrooms were assigned to one of three conditions: Collaborative Social Reasoning (CSR: intervention), Read Aloud (RA), or Regular Instruction (RI) conditions. We examined students’ use of academic, relational, social, and emotional vocabulary in a reflective essay task before and after the intervention. Crossed random effects models were used to examine the intervention effect.

Results. Our current findings show that students in the CSR condition generated more academic, relational, social, and emotional vocabulary in the essays than the RA and RI students. We are currently testing the robustness of the findings with more control variables, such as print frequency to hold the reliability of results.

Conclusions. Findings shed lights on collaborative dialogic inquiry as an effective approach to promoting productive use of academic and social-emotional vocabulary in writing.