This study is an exploratory investigation of the talk generated by small groups of eleven year old primary school pupils engaged upon discussion learning tasks, without the teacher being present. Particularly, the principal concern oi the study is the quality of such talk for learning purposes . Following a consideration of the research literature in this area, thirty six discussions of pupils in three A.C.T. primary) schools were recorded. These discussions were rated by teachers with respect to their perceived quality as learning experiences. Six discussions rated as high quality and six discussions rated as low quality were selected for transcription and analysis. By comparing and contrasting the analyses of the talk of the high and low quality discussions, various elements or parameters of quality of small group talk are identified and described. Exploration of methodologies for analysing small group talk, and of the quality of such talk, is undertaken in this study with a view towards promoting the effective use of small group discussion without teacher as a learning activity in classrooms.
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