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Beyond Oral Participation: A Typology of Student Engagement in Classroom Discussions

Abstract

Classroom discussions represent a common learning activity for students in schools. The prevailing discourse has focused on how to encourage as many students as possible to participate actively in classroom discussions with the assumption that only vocal students are engaged learners. The present essay critically challenges this position by drawing attention to how silent students may be similarly, if not more, engaged emotionally and cognitively than vocal students in classroom discussions. It uses the conceptual apparatus of the integrated perspective of student engagement to hypothesize a typology of six student learning patterns in discussions, namely, Silent-Acting, Silent-Feeling, Silent-Cognizing, Vocal-Acting, Vocal-Feeling, and Vocal-Cognizing. The typology is derived from examining interactions between the three dimensions of student engagement (behavioural, emotional, and cognitive engagement) and two types of student participation in classroom discussions (vocal versus silent participation). Implications for building a more inclusive classroom learning environment and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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Shi, M., Tan, C.Y. Beyond Oral Participation: A Typology of Student Engagement in Classroom Discussions. NZ J Educ Stud 55, 247–265 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40841-020-00166-0

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Keywords

  • Student engagement
  • Classroom discussions
  • Silent students
  • Typology