Exploratory and Critical Dialogues as Learning and Reflection Tools

Submitted by: Eva Dam Christensen
Abstract: Introduction.
This intervention study investigates and qualifies students` use of exploratory and critical
dialogues when reading multimodal texts in lower secondary school. I investigate how
students engage in group dialogues to develop skills for critical communication and
validating texts on websites through interthinking
The study has its main theoretical foundation in a sociocultural understanding (Vygotsky, 1986, Bakhtin, 1986, Maine, 2015). Learning and understanding does not happen individually but is developed through dialogues in social contexts.
Research Questions:
How do students working in groups use dialogue to explore the content and credibility of websites?
How can we qualify the same dialogue by facilitating an exploratory and critical validation of it by students?
Methods & Data Sources.
This PhD project is an intervention study with four lower secondary classes participating. To describe the field before and after the intervention, I have completed an initial dialogue test of students` group work based on their dialogue while reading websites and a dialogue test after the intervention. Data are conducted through video and audio records of students group dialogues and focus group interviews.
My hypothesis is that when students reflect and have a meta-dialog over their own dialogue, they can strengthen their ability to criticize and make source criticism of websites
First part of the transcriptions and the interviews of the focus groups indicates that when the teacher set up dialogic group assignments the student isn`t aware of how to be critical
Students try to analyze the elements on the website by reading the multimodal information and then assessing the credibility of the content without exploring how the website's multimodal texts interact and what it can do for credibility
It seems that the students' observation of their own group dialogues helps to qualify their study of the same group dialogues and allows for meta-reflection.
The aim I work on is that students acquire dialogue and critical communication skills as awareness that knowledge is not secure and in fact and that students themselves must learn to deal with this uncertainty by making assessments of the Internet texts

Key words: exploratory and critical dialogue, interthinking, digital multimodal texts, group dialogue

· Littleton, Karen & Mercer, Neil (2013): Interthinking, Putting Talk to work, Routhledge
· Maine, Fiona (2015): Dialogic Readers. Children talking and thinking together about visual texts, Routhledge
· Mercer, Neil and Hodgkinson, Steve (2010): Exploring Talk in School, Sage Publications
· Wegerif, R. (2016). Applying dialogic theory to illuminate the relationship between literacy education and teaching thinking in the context of the Internet Age. Contribution to a special issue on International Perspectives on Dialogic Theory and Practice, edited by Sue Brindley, Mary Juzwik, and Alison Whitehurst. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, p. 1-21.