The question of legitimate answers
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 22:43 authored by Linda L. Gerot
Classroom discourse has been analysed in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. In this study a linguistically motivated methodology has been developed for the analysis of meaning features of classroom discourse. This was done by means of devising a semantic network. The semantic network provides an account of meaning choices available to teachers and students in the course of asking questions, answering them and evaluating the answers. The semantic characteristics of questions, answers, evaluations and their nexus were analysed in particular as a way of exploring what count as legitimate answers in classroom discourse. The position taken is that the semantic features of a classroom question define what can count as a legitimate answer while the meaning features of the answer evaluation index or reflect what does count as the legitimate answer. By nexus is meant the contingency relation between the semantic features of the question, its answer and the answer evaluation. The semantic network has been used to analyse the meaning features of questions, answers and evaluations in Year 7 and Year 11 History and Science lessons so as to: (1) make explicit teaching practices which have become implicit; this includes an account of the criteria teachers appear to use to evaluate students' answers in spoken classroom discourse. (2) locate differences in meaning patterns in the types of questions asked, answers and evaluations provided in Year 7 as opposed to Year 11, reflecting developmental variation, and History as opposed to Science, reflecting registral variation. That the semantic network has permitted these goals to be achieved demonstrates its efficacy as a tool for analysing classroom discourse and addressing issues of pedagogic concern.