Learning Through Talking
of teachers and 74% of support staff feel they lack the requisite knowledge and
skills in communication to interact successfully with class groups.
40% of those questioned did not like interactive learning that involved
them working with others and sharing their experiences.
were among the findings of the ESCalate Student Feedback Project, funded DfES
Learning and Teaching Support Network, which will be presented at the British
Education Research Association (BERA) in Edinburgh on 11 September 2003.
A course for teachers and support staff,
to develop their knowledge and skills in the communicative process of learning,
has been devised and evaluated as part of the research project directed by Dr
Rosemary Sage, University of Leicester School of Education, in collaboration
with Ms Stasia Cwenar, New College, Leicester.
results have been illuminating, demonstrating that if educators are
uncomfortable in interactive situations they are unlikely to use them with their
students and offering clear statistical evidence for the necessity for this type
of professional development.
complexity of teaching and variability of the work context confirms that
educators need to be reflective problem solvers in order to act appropriately,
justifying a course in developing ways of thinking and communicating, rather
than training in particular practices.
The effect of the course on students in some cases has been dramatic.
teacher commented: ‘I allowed the
student to talk for 75% of the time with me in contrast to previous lessons
where my talk had dominated, giving him no chance to air his views. This was a
turning point for the boy. He was a regular non-attendee, and now is a
conscientious pupil. His attitude changed once he recognised I valued his
contributions and allowed him to discuss ideas’.
Rosemary Sage, Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of Education, and
Assistant Director of CIREA commented: “What
happens in schools? Teachers talk and pupils listen and then re-present this
content in examinations.
and large, knowledge acquired in school helps one to progress and satisfy
assessment targets. What is learnt, however, bears little relevance to the
demands made by the outside community, which depend on us being able to apply
and adapt what we have learnt to new situations.
do this we must perceive links between knowledge and solve problems without
others supplying either information or help.
There is a growing awareness that we need to focus more on the how
of learning rather than the what.
This moves us away from the restrictive notions of pedagogy
(teaching children) and embraces the principles of andragogy
(the art and science of helping people learn).
transition requires students to participate in learning, and their abilities to
think and express, learn and problem-solve, are utterly dependent on skills of
speaking and listening that allow the sharing, refining and reviewing of ideas.
This demands that teachers learn how to interact
with students rather than transmit facts
to editors: Further
information is available from Dr Rosemary Sage, Senior Lecturer, University of
Leicester School of Education, Assistant Director of CIREA, tel 0116 252 5786,
fax 0116 252 3653, email email@example.com
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.