Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 103–126 | Cite as

Developing Elementary Teachers’ Understandings of Hedges and Personal Pronouns in Inquiry-Based Science Classroom Discourse

Article

Abstract

This study examined the effectiveness of introducing elementary teachers to the scholarly literature on personal pronouns and hedges in classroom discourse, a professional development strategy adopted during a summer institute to enhance teachers’ social understanding (i.e., their understanding of the social functions of language in science discussions). Teachers became aware of how hedges can be employed to remain neutral toward students’ oral contributions to classroom discussions, invite students to share their opinions and articulate their own ideas, and motivate students to inquire. Teachers recognized that the combined use of I and you can render their feedback authoritative, you can shift the focus from the investigation to students’ competence, and we can lead to authority loss. It is argued that explicitness, reflectivity, and contextualization are essential features of professional development programs aimed at improving teachers’ understandings of the social dimension of inquiry-based science classrooms and preparing teachers to engage in inquiry-based teacher–student interactions.

Keywords

Classroom discourse analysis Language of science Professional development Teacher education Elementary practicing teachers Hedges Pronouns 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Theory and PracticeState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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