Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education and Organizational Leadership Development

Committee Member

Dr. Mindy Spearman, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Phillip Wilder

Committee Member

Dr. Lienne Medford

Committee Member

Dr. Jamie Colwell


Educational scholars and practitioners recognize that classroom discussion offers great promise for helping students develop content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a variety of meta-cognitive and process skills associated with learning content knowledge and disciplinary processes. Despite this research-based and anecdotal consensus regarding the value of discussion, an equally extensive body of research shows that discussion is not used in U.S. classrooms as consistently or effectively as it might be. This study sought to examine this issue by exploring the relationship between in-service English language arts teachers' beliefs about discussion, their goals for the use of discussion, and their actual use of discussion in the secondary English language arts classroom. The present qualitative multi-case study examined how three experienced English language arts teachers in a large southeastern school district defined and used discussion. Findings suggest that English language arts teachers recognize the value of discussion, associating it with a variety of pedagogical outcomes; however, they use it with varying degrees of effectiveness. This study has potential to make a substantial contribution to both the fields of teacher education and English education by providing scholars in both fields with a better understanding of how teachers conceptualize discussion as a pedagogical approach and the extent to which they can connect the practice with theories of literacy education.



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