Children need to talk more to each other

13 February 2013

The days of children being seen and not heard should be over, a University of Canterbury postgraduate education researcher said.

Children need to talk more to each other

UC senior teacher education lecturer Wendy Fox-Turnbull

The days of children being seen and not heard should be over, a University of Canterbury postgraduate education researcher said.

UC senior teacher education lecturer Wendy Fox-Turnbull’s thesis on improving knowledge in primary classrooms found that young students talking among themselves was critical to successful learning. 

"This is an emerging understanding how important talk is in the classroom. Even those students who know about a subject deepen their understanding when they articulate their understandings with other children.

"My study revealed that students learned faster and deeper through dialogue with each other. It also found that debate, argument and / or disagreement helped students’ understandings in education technology if and when participants were open to change and new ideas.

"The implications are that, in order to increase the effectiveness of learning, students need to know how to question and challenge their own and others’ thinking without attacking or experiencing feelings of being attacked.

"Students need to learn how to discuss and debate ideas, let go of some previous ideas, be open to the opinions of others and to alter their own opinions as new information comes to light. Teachers need to teach students how to talk to each other in a manner that facilitates learning for all parties.’’

The study found that analysis of conversations in classrooms indicated that students gained and used information not only in the classroom but knowledge and skills from their families and cultural practices at home. They also gained and used knowledge from more passive activities such as watching TV or reading books.

Students who brought knowledge from their home and culture to the classroom were able to contribute not only to their groups’ technological outcomes but to their own and to their peers’ knowledge too.  Children who talked more put themselves in a better position to assist their group which, in turn, assisted the development of their own self-esteem.

"In the study, students learned they all have valuable contributions to make and, at times, knowledge they took for granted because it was an integral part of their home and community culture.

"A bank of knowledge has considerable impact on learning as it assisted students’ understanding in work, recreational and in social settings. These findings will have implications for teachers because they demonstrate that students learn from each other.

Fox-Turnbull will present her study paper at the 75th annual International Technology Education and Engineering Association conference in Columbus, Ohio, on March 6-9; at the Technology Subject Associations Coalition conference in Wellington on October 7-9 and at an International Research Conference on Technology Education in Christchurch on December 2-6.

She will also submit aspects of the study to the New Zealand Council for Educational Research to benefit all New Zealand primary school principals.

For further informationplease contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Communications and External Relations
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168

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