Small Group Discussions, aka, Dialogic Reasoning

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Dialogic Reasoning

Dialogic Reasoning (DR) is a small group discussion instructional approach that provides teachers with a framework to support students’ active engagement in peer-led, language-rich discussion of complex issues. DR is derived primarily from the work of Richard Anderson and his colleagues, specifically their discussion approach called “Collaborative Reasoning”. The focus of DR (and other discussion-based instructional approaches) is on developing student aptitudes for thinking, reasoning, making sound decisions, and communicating effectively with others (see links to Helpful Literature below; Ossa Parra et al., 2016; Clark et al., 2003; Zhang & Stahl, 2011). DR is an authentic means to promote classroom conversations around academic texts and ideas. DR seeks to undo traditional Teacher-Student interactional patters and promote naturalistic human conversations around important and meaningful issues in people’s lived experiences.

DR relates to common core foci on speaking and listening which are too often lost in the shuffle of instruction. Speicifically, DR is designed to “[p]repare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively” (Common Core State Standards)

Like its cousin, Collaborative Reasoning, DR discussions are grounded in stance-oriented questions that require students to lay claim to, and defend, positions from text-based and personally-based reasoning. DR discussions encourage the active integration of both types of evidence formation, with questions such as Should animals be reintroduced into areas where they will encounter humans and livestock? or Should  scientists revive extinct animals?

Helpful Literature on Dialogic Reasoning

Ossa Parra et al. (2016) Dialogic Reasoning

Clark et al. (2003) Collaborative Reasoning: Expanding Ways for Children to Talk and Think in School

Zhang & Stahl (2011) Collaborative Reasoning