Faculty of Education Seminar Series – Dr. Alyson Simpson

Please join us for this year’s first Faculty Seminar Series talk.

Dialogic teaching:
In the pursuit of critically-reflective learning through multimodal assessment tasks


Dr. Alyson Simpson
University of Sydney, Australia

 Thursday, September 27, 2012
10:00 am
Room 1010, Faculty of Education Building

All are welcome. Refreshments will be served. RSVP to tbeynen@uwo.ca

 Alyson Simpson is currently Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney and was once a teacher librarian. She lectures in undergraduate and postgraduate pre-service teacher programmes in the area of English/ literacy education. Her research projects in higher education and primary schools have examined the power of children’s literature, designs for e-learning and concepts of visual literacy. She is the co-editor of Literacy and Social Responsibility: Multiple Perspectives (London: Equinox Press, 2010) and author of Reading under the Covers: Helping Children to Choose Books (Newtown: Primary English Teaching Association, 2008).

As more and more instances of blended learning are used in higher education contexts it is useful to examine how different modes of teaching contribute towards improved student learning. This presentation reports on research in progress examining the pedagogic design employed to support pre-service teachers to develop critically reflective learning practices.
The study took place in an urban university in Sydney, Australia with a final year cohort of B. Ed. (Primary) students. Based on Alexander’s 5 principles of Dialogic Teaching (2004) two units of study in which all the pre-service teachers were enrolled were designed to include multimodal assessment tasks that included face-to-face and online discussion in social networks.
The units were in the subject areas of English and Professional Development. A key feature of the units was the deliberate plan to use iterative processes so that students learned about concepts, applied them in collaboration with others, peer reviewed the artifacts created, and then reflected on the cycle of learning as part of their assessment of the unit. The assessment activities used talk for performance, talk for process and talk for reflection (Wells 1999). This gave students the opportunity to experience the variety of ways dialogue can be used productively to set up reflective learning contexts. Qualitative data was collected from a variety of tasks in which students use talk to develop and then revisit their own learning including viva voce interviews and focus groups.  Quantitative data was collected from unit of study evaluation surveys. Emerging findings show that students valued the learning/teaching process highly from four perspectives including: critical thinking, grounded learning, applied practice and embedded feedback.

Alexander, R. (2004). Towards dialogic teaching: Rethinking classroom talk. Cambridge: Dialogos. http://www.robinalexander.org.uk/dialogicteaching.htm

Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: Toward a sociocultural practice and theory of education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



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