Oral discussion in the classroom is important in learning outcomes for students. Traditional oral discourse has included the initiate, respond, evaluate (I-R-E) pattern of oral discourse, but this pattern is associated with negative student outcomes. Dialogic exchanges, however, lead to positive student outcomes. These exchanges have been proven especially beneficial for English Learners. This study focuses on two middle school teachers’ classes in the Western United States where the population percentage of English Learners was higher than average. A minimum of two engineering units taught by these two teachers were audio-recorded and then transcribed. Dialogic discourse was then identified in the transcripts as occurrences where students spoke without the interjection of the teacher. After determining where dialogic discourse occurred, we identified the preceding oral discourse moves employed by the teacher. When reviewing these discourse moves, we discovered two recurring oral discourse moves used by the teachers that facilitated dialogic discourse in the classroom. First, when teachers asked students to share relevant life experiences, they were more likely to engage in dialogic spells. Second, when teachers asked open-ended questions, students were more likely to engage in dialogic spells. These findings were consistent when teachers engaged with both English learners and students who were not identified as English learners. However, these two oral discourse moves were still used infrequently within the classrooms. We then conclude that dialogic discourse is possible in engineering education, and suggest these findings can improve pre-service and in-service teacher education.
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