Relationships Between Teacher Discursive Moves and Middle School Students’ Cognitive Contributions to Science Concepts

  • Yilmaz SoysalEmail author
  • Ozgul Yilmaz-Tuzun


This study investigated science classroom discourse in terms of the types of teacher discursive moves (TDMs) and the relationships between the types of TDMs and student-led cognitive contributions in different science concepts by considering the classroom context. An experienced seventh-grade science teacher and her 19 students were engaged in argument-based inquiry activities focusing on physics and chemistry concepts. The analysis revealed that even though the teacher used a variety of TDMs, the following four enacted TDMs were prominent: knowledge providing–evaluating, communicating, monitoring, and evaluating–judging–critiquing. There were implicit relationships between the knowledge providing–evaluating, communicating, monitoring, and evaluating–judging–critiquing moves and the students’ cognitive contributions in different science concepts. For further analysis, several video cases were selected for scrutinizing these episodes, and it was found that evaluating–judging–critiquing teacher moves interacted with classroom culture more than the other two commonly used TDMs by using comparison prompt (simple comparison), evaluation prompt (teacher-led evaluation), and resolution prompt (student–student judgements). It was observed that when the teacher increased the number of resolution prompts, the students reached greater cognitive contributions during the negotiation of physics phenomena. Recommendations were presented for the science teachers’ professional development in the sense of discourse–cognition relations.


Discursive moves Cognitive contribution Argument-based inquiry Sociocultural discourse analysis Classroom discourse 



The authors would like to express their appreciation to Prof. Dr. Murat GUNEL for his valuable and constructive suggestions during the planning and development of this research work.


  1. Ardasheva, Y., Norton-Meier, L., & Hand, B. (2015). Negotiation, embeddedness, and non-threatening learning environments as themes of science and language convergence for English language learners. Studies in Science Education, 51(2), 201–249.Google Scholar
  2. Bakhtin, M. M. (1934). The dialogic imagination: four essays (trans. Michael Holquist and Caryl Emerson). In Discourse in the novel. Austin: University of Texas.Google Scholar
  3. Berland, L. K., & Hammer, D. (2012). Framing for scientific argumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(1), 68–94.Google Scholar
  4. Berland, L. K., & Reiser, B. J. (2011). Classroom communities’ adaptations of the practice of scientific argumentation. Science Education, 95(2), 191–216.Google Scholar
  5. Biggs, J. B., & Collis, K. F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Boyd, M., & Rubin, D. (2006). How contingent questioning promotes extended student talk: a function of display questions. Journal of Literacy Research, 38(2), 141–169.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, N. J. S., Furtak, E. M., Timms, M., Nagashima, S. O., & Wilson, M. (2010a). The evidence-based reasoning framework: assessing scientific reasoning. Educational Assessment, 15, 123–141.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, N. J. S., Nagashima, S. O., Fu, A., Timms, M., & Wilson, M. (2010b). A framework for analyzing scientific reasoning in assessments. Educational Assessment, 15, 142–174.Google Scholar
  9. Cavagnetto, A. R. (2010). Argument to foster scientific literacy: a review of argument interventions in K-12 science contexts. Review of Educational Research, 80(3), 336–371.Google Scholar
  10. Cavagnetto, A., & Hand, B. M. (2012). The importance of embedding argument within science classrooms. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Perspectives on scientific argumentation (pp. 39–53). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Cazden, C. B. (1986). Classroom discourse. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (Vol. 3, pp. 432–463). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  12. Chen, Y.-C., Park, S., & Hand, B. (2016). Examining the use of talk and writing for students' development of scientific conceptual knowledge through constructing and critiquing arguments. Cognition and Instruction, 34(2), 100–147.Google Scholar
  13. Chin, C. (2006). Classroom interaction in science: teacher questioning and feedback to students’ responses. International Journal of Science Education, 28(11), 1315–1346.Google Scholar
  14. Chin, C. (2007). Teacher questioning in science classrooms: approaches that stimulate productive thinking. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(6), 815–843.Google Scholar
  15. Chin, C., & Osborne, J. (2010). Students’ questions and discursive interaction: their impact on argumentation during collaborative group discussions in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(7), 883–908.Google Scholar
  16. Cochran-Smith, M. (2005). Teacher educators as researchers: multiple perspectives. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(2), 219–225.Google Scholar
  17. Cochran-Smith, M. (2006). Policy, practice, and politics in teacher education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  18. Crawford, B. A. (2000). Embracing the essence of inquiry: new roles for science teachers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(9), 916–937.Google Scholar
  19. Edwards, D., & Mercer, N. (1987). Common knowledge: the development of understanding in the classroom. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Engle, R. A., & Conant, F. R. (2002). Guiding principles for fostering productive disciplinary engagement: explaining an emergent argument in a community of learners classroom. Cognition and Instruction, 20(4), 399–484.Google Scholar
  21. Ford, M. J. (2008). Disciplinary authority and accountability in scientific practice and learning. Science Education, 92(3), 404–423.Google Scholar
  22. Ford, M. J. (2012). A dialogic account of sense-making in scientific argumentation and reasoning. Cognition and Instruction, 30(3), 207–245.Google Scholar
  23. Furtak, E. M., Hardy, I., Beinbrech, C., Shavelson, R. J., & Shemwell, J. T. (2010). A framework for analyzing evidence-based reasoning in science classroom discourse. Educational Assessment, 15(3–4), 175–196.Google Scholar
  24. Gabel, D. (1998). The complexity of chemistry and its implications for teaching. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (Vol. 1, pp. 223–248). London: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  25. Gabel, D. (1999). Improving teaching and learning through chemistry education research: a look to the future. Journal of Chemical Education, 76(4), 548–554.Google Scholar
  26. Gee, J. P. (2004). Language in the science classroom: academic social languages as the heart of school-based literacy. In E. W. Saul (Ed.), Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: perspectives on theory and practice (pp. 13–32). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.Google Scholar
  27. Gilbert, J. K., & Treagust, D. (2009). Introduction: macro, submicro and symbolic representations and the relationship between them: key models in chemical education. In J. K. Gilbert & D. Treagust (Eds.), Multiple representations in chemical education (pp. 1–8). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  28. Grimberg, B. I., & Hand, B. (2009). Cognitive pathways: analysis of students' written texts for science understanding. International Journal of Science Education, 31(4), 503–521.Google Scholar
  29. Gurel, D. K., Eryılmaz, A., & McDermott, L. C. (2015). A review and comparison of diagnostic instruments to identify students’ misconceptions in science. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 11(5), 989–1008.Google Scholar
  30. Guskey, T. R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 8(3), 381–391.Google Scholar
  31. Halliday, M. A. K., & Martin, J. R. (1993). Writing science: literacy and discursive power. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hardy, I., Kloetzer, B., Moeller, K., & Sodian, B. (2010). The analysis of classroom discourse: elementary school science curricula advancing reasoning with evidence. Educational Assessment, 15(3–4), 197–221.Google Scholar
  33. Ho, D. G. E. (2005). Why do teachers ask the questions they ask? RELC Journal, 36(3), 297–310.Google Scholar
  34. Hogan, K., Nastasi, B. K., & Pressley, M. (2000). Discourse patterns and collaborative scientific reasoning in peer and teacher-guided discussions. Cognition and Instruction, 17(4), 379–432.Google Scholar
  35. Hutchison, P., & Hammer, D. (2010). Attending to student epistemological framing in a science classroom. Science Education, 94(3), 506–524.Google Scholar
  36. Jadallah, M., Anderson, R. C., Nguyen-Janiel, K., Miller, B. W., Kim, I. H., & Kuo, L. J. (2011). Influence of a teacher's scaffolding moves during child-led small-group discussion. American Educational Research Journal, 48(1), 194–230.Google Scholar
  37. Jiménez-Aleixandre, M. P., & Erduran, S. (2008). Argumentation in science education: an overview. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jiménez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education: perspectives from classroom-based research (pp. 3–27). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  38. Johnstone, A. H. (1982). Macro- and micro-chemistry. School Science Review, 64, 377–379.Google Scholar
  39. Johnstone, A. H. (1991). Why is science difficult to learn? Things are seldom like they seem. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 7(2), 75–83.Google Scholar
  40. Johnstone, A. H. (1993). The development of chemistry teaching: a changing response to changing demand. Journal of Chemical Education, 70(9), 701–705.Google Scholar
  41. Johnstone, A. H. (2000). Teaching of chemistry: logical or psychological? Chemistry Education: Research and Practice in Europe, 1(1), 9–15.Google Scholar
  42. Kawalkar, A., & Vijapurkar, J. (2013). Scaffolding science talk: the role of teachers' questions in the inquiry classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 35(12), 2004–2027.Google Scholar
  43. Kayima, F., & Jakobsen, A. (2018). Exploring the situational adequacy of teacher questions in science classrooms. Research in Science Education, 1–31.
  44. Lam, S., Law, Y., & Shum, M. S. (2009). Classroom discourse analysis and educational outcomes in the era of educational reform. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(4), 617–641.Google Scholar
  45. Leach, J. T., & Scott, P. H. (2002). Designing and evaluating science teaching sequences: an approach drawing upon the concept of learning demand and a social constructivist perspective on learning. Studies in Science Education, 38(1), 115–142.Google Scholar
  46. Leach, J. T., & Scott, P. H. (2003). Individual and sociocultural views of learning in science education. Science & Education, 12(1), 91–113.Google Scholar
  47. Lefstein, A., Snell, J., &, Israeli, M. (2015). From moves to sequences: expanding the unit of analysis in the study of classroom discourse. British Educational Research Journal, 41(5), 866–885.Google Scholar
  48. Lemke, J. L. (1990). Talking science: language, learning, and values. Norwoord: Ablex.Google Scholar
  49. Lopes, J. B., & Cunha, A. E. (2017). Self-directed professional development to improve effective teaching: key points for a model. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 262–274.Google Scholar
  50. Lopes, J. B., Branco, J., & Jimenez-Aleixandre, M. P. (2011). “Learning experience” provided by science teaching practice in a classroom and the development of students' competences. Research in Science Education, 41(5), 787–809.Google Scholar
  51. Louca, L. T., Zacharia, Z. C., & Tzialli, D. (2012). Identification, interpretation-evaluation, response: an alternative framework for analyzing teacher discourse in science. International Journal of Science Education, 34(12), 1823–1856.Google Scholar
  52. Martin, A. M., & Hand, B. (2009). Factors affecting the implementation of argument in the elementary science classroom. A longitudinal case study. Research in Science Education, 39(1), 17–38.Google Scholar
  53. McMahon, K. (2012). Case studies of interactive whole-class teaching in primary science: communicative approach and pedagogic purposes. International Journal of Science Education, 34(11), 1687–1708.Google Scholar
  54. McNeill, K. L., & Pimentel, D. S. (2010). Scientific discourse in three urban classrooms: the role of the teacher in engaging high school students in argumentation. Science Education, 94(2), 203–229.Google Scholar
  55. Mercer, N. (2000). Words and minds: how we use language to think together. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Mercer, N. (2004). Sociocultural discourse analysis: analysing classroom talk as a social mode of thinking. Journal of Applied Linguistic, 1(2), 137–168.Google Scholar
  57. Mercer, N. (2008). The seeds of time: why classroom dialogue needs a temporal analysis. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(1), 33–59.Google Scholar
  58. Mercer, N. (2010). The analysis of classroom talk: methods and methodologies. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(1), 1–14.Google Scholar
  59. Mercer, N., & Dawes, L. (2014). The study of talk between teachers and students, from the 1970s until the 2010s. Oxford Review of Education, 40(4), 430–445.Google Scholar
  60. Michaels, S., & O'Conner, C. (2012). Talk science primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC.Google Scholar
  61. Middleton, D., & Edwards, D. (1990). Conversational remembering: a social psychological approach. In D. Middleton & D. Edwards (Eds.), Collective remembering. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  62. Molinari, L., & Mameli, C. (2013). Process quality of classroom discourse: pupil participation and learning opportunities. International Journal of Educational Research, 62, 249–258.Google Scholar
  63. Molinari, L., Mameli, C., & Gnisci, A. (2013). A sequential analysis of classroom discourse in Italian primary schools: the many faces of the IRF pattern. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 414–430.Google Scholar
  64. Mortimer, E. F., & Machado, A. H. (2000). Anomalies and conflicts in classroom discourse. Science Education, 84(4), 429–444.Google Scholar
  65. Mortimer, E., & Scott, P. (2003). Meaning making in secondary science classrooms. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Myhill, D. (2006). Talk, talk, talk: teaching and learning in whole class discourse. Research Papers in Education, 21(1), 19–41.Google Scholar
  67. Nilsson, P., & Vikström, A. (2015). Making PCK explicit-capturing science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in the science classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 37(17), 2836–2857.Google Scholar
  68. Nussbaum, E. M., & Edwards, O. V. (2011). Critical questions and argument stratagems: a framework for enhancing and analyzing students’ reasoning practices. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(3), 443–488.Google Scholar
  69. Oh, P. S., & Campbell, T. (2013). Understanding of science classrooms in different countries through the analysis of discourse modes for building ‘classroom science knowledge’ (CSK). Journal of Korean Association for Science Education, 33(3), 597–625.Google Scholar
  70. Oliveira, A. W. (2010). Improving teacher questioning in science inquiry discussions through professional development. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 422–453.Google Scholar
  71. Pimentel, D. S., & McNeill, K. L. (2013). Conducting talk in science classrooms: investigating instructional moves and teachers’ beliefs. Science Education, 97(3), 367–394.Google Scholar
  72. Rappoport, L. T., & Ashkenazi, G. (2008). Connecting levels of representation: emergent versus submergent perspective. International Journal of Science Education, 30(12), 1585–1603.Google Scholar
  73. Santas, G. X. (1979). Socrates. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  74. Schon, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  75. Schon, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  76. Scott, P. H. (1997). Developing science concepts in secondary classrooms: an analysis of pedagogical interactions from a Vygotskian perspective. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds, School of Education.Google Scholar
  77. Scott, P. H., Mortimer, E. F., & Aguiar, O. G. (2006). The tension between authoritative and dialogic discourse: a fundamental characteristic of meaning making interactions in high school science lessons. Science Education, 90(7), 605–631.Google Scholar
  78. Shemwell, J. T., & Furtak, E. R. (2010). Science classroom discussion as scientific argumentation: a study of conceptually rich (and poor) student talk. Educational Assessment, 15(3–4), 222–250.Google Scholar
  79. Simon, S., Erduran, S., & Osborne, J. (2006). Learning to teach argumentation: research and development in the science classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 28(2–3), 235–260.Google Scholar
  80. Sinclair, J. M. H., & Coulthard, R. M. (1975). Towards an analysis of discourse: the English used by teachers and pupils. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Talanquer, V. (2011). Macro, submicro, and symbolic: the many faces of the chemistry “triplet”. International Journal of Science Education, 33(2), 179–195.Google Scholar
  82. Toulmin, S. (1958). The uses of argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  83. Turner, J. C., & Meyer, D. K. (2000). Studying and understanding the instructional contexts of classrooms: using our past to forge our future. Educational Psychologist, 35(2), 69–85.Google Scholar
  84. van Booven, D. (2015). Revisiting the authoritative–dialogic tension in inquiry-based elementary science teacher questioning. International Journal of Science Education, 37(8), 1182–1201.Google Scholar
  85. van Zee, E. H. (2000). Analysis of a student-generated inquiry discussion. International Journal of Science Education, 22(2), 115–142.Google Scholar
  86. van Zee, E. H., & Minstrell, J. (1997). Using questioning to guide student thinking. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(2), 229–271.Google Scholar
  87. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thinking and speech (N. Minick, trans.). In R. W. Rieber & A. S. Carton (Eds.), The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky: Vol. 1. Problems of general psychology (pp. 39–285). New York: Plenum Press (Original work published 1934).Google Scholar
  88. Wegerif, R. (2008). Reason and dialogue in education. In B. van Oers, W. Wardekker, E. Elbers, & R. van der Veer (Eds.), The transformation of learning. Advances in cultural-historical activity theory (pp. 273–286). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education, Department of Elementary EducationIstanbul Aydin UniversitySefaköy-KüçükçekmeceTurkey
  2. 2.Faculty of Education, Department of Elementary EducationMiddle East Technical UniversityÇankayaTurkey

Personalised recommendations