Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)
Curriculum and Instruction
Christian Z. Goering
Marcia B. Imbeau
Second Committee Member
Michael J. Wavering
Education; Dialogic instruction; Science classrooms; Secondary science; Socratic circles
Research has shown that dialogic instruction promotes learning in students. Secondary science has traditionally been taught from an authoritative stance, reinforced in recent years by testing policies requiring coverage. Socratic Circles are a framework for student-led dialogic discourse, which have been successfully used in English language arts and Social studies classrooms. The purpose of this research was to explore the implementation process of Socratic Circles in secondary science classes where they have been perceived to be more difficult. Focusing on two physical science classes and one chemistry class, this study described the nature and characteristics of Socratic Circles, teachers’ dispositions toward dialogic instruction, the nature and characteristics of student discussion, and student motivation. Socratic Circles were found to be a dialogic support that influenced classroom climate, Social skills, content connections, and student participation. Teachers experienced conflict between using traditional test driven scripted teaching, and exploring innovation through dialogic instruction. Students experienced opportunities for peer interaction, participation, and deeper discussions in a framework designed to improve dialogic skills. Students in two of the classrooms showed evidence of motivation for engaging in peer-led discussion, and students in one class did not. The class that did not show evidence of motivation had not been given the same scaffolding as the other two classes.
Two physical science teachers and one chemistry teacher found that Socratic Circles required more scaffolding than was indicated by their peers in other disciplines such as English and Social studies. The teachers felt that student’s general lack of background knowledge for any given topic in physical science or chemistry necessitated the building of a knowledge platform before work on a discussion could begin. All three of the teachers indicated that Socratic Circles were a rewarding activity, beneficial to students, which they would use in the future.
Copelin, Michelle Renee, ""Socratic Circles are a Luxury": Exploring the Conceptualization of a Dialogic Tool in Three Science Classrooms" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 1441.