Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 363–381 | Cite as

Pre-service teachers’ conceptions of effective teacher talk: their critical reflections on a sample teacher-student dialogue

  • Ji-Eun Lee
  • Kyoung-Tae Kim


This study aimed to explore pre-service elementary teachers’ (PSTs’) conceptions of effective teacher talk in mathematics instruction, which were interpreted primarily based on the concept of communicative approach. This was accomplished through a task that involves analyzing and evaluating a sample teacher-student dialogue. This study specifically investigated: (a) aspects of the sample dialogue that PSTs attended to in critiquing the teacher talk, (b) PSTs’ espoused conceptions of effective teacher talk in an authoritative-dialogic approach framework, and (c) comparison between PSTs’ interpretations and the researchers’ interpretation. Forty-six elementary PSTs engaged in the task and their responses were analyzed using the inductive content analysis approach. Findings showed that PSTs attended to various features of effective teacher-student dialogue; however, they paid more attention to the form of teacher talk than the function of it in context. PSTs’ justifications used in evaluating the sample teacher-student dialogue showed some glaring differences from researchers’ evaluations in regards to how the presented teacher talk would function in terms of the dialogic-authoritative spectrum. PSTs underscored affective support and clarity of teacher talk at its surface level, while showing strong resistance to the intentional vagueness within teacher talk, which might accommodate more dialogic engagement. This study suggests that initial teacher training programs should include more specific investment in PSTs’ insights into effective use of classroom dialogue for learning.


Pre-service teacher education Communicative approach Classroom talk Teacher conceptions 


Compliance with ethical standards



Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants

This study involves human participants. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) in the corresponding author’s institution reviewed the IRB application and approved it. The IRB has determined this study is exempt from the IRB review according to federal regulations.

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Since the corresponding author of this study was also the instructor of participants, several recommended procedures for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning projects were employed to minimize the possibility of undue influence (e.g., Burman & Kleinsasser, 2004). Provided consent forms that asked for permission to analyze their course activities after the completion of the course were collected and sealed in an envelope until the end of the semester after course grading was completed. Participants were informed that their decision would not be revealed to the instructor until after the course grading was completed. The data from PSTs who did not give permission were excluded from data analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher Development and Educational StudiesOakland UniversityRochesterUSA
  2. 2.College of Central FloridaOcalaUSA

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