Adolescent dyadic talk around a young adult novel: Developing understandings and relationships

Rosanne Linda Rabinowitz, Fordham University


This 6-week qualitative case study described how six adolescents interacted in dyads during in-school discussions of the book Monster. Transcripts of dyadic interactions, field notes, observations, and individual interviews were analyzed using functions of language and reader response theory to examine each participant's language. Findings indicated that the social context of dyads within an academic environment influences students to display power by participating and that an adolescent's perception of the dyadic peer event is partly dependent on that adolescent's perception of the partner. Four hypotheses were generated. First, adolescent dyadic peer talk is characterized by attempts to relate texts to personal experiences through any perceived personal relevancy of the themes or concepts within a text to a partner's personal life. A partner's use of personal connections may dominate talk and limit the contribution of the other partner. Secondly, adolescent dyadic peer talk time in school allows partners to discover similarities and differences between them. As partners discover similarities and differences there are opportunities to develop understandings among diverse groups; alternatively, perceived differences between partners in a dyad may limit conversations. Thirdly, when a teacher provides scaffolded, structured support to dyads, interactions are likely to be sustained. A teacher can support and guide partners in dyads and help adolescents develop face-to-face conversational skills, allow time for another's response, provide feedback to a partner on diverse ideas, and negotiate time and content of a talk. Lastly, the multiple interactions of dyads with the same partner through time contribute to the development of an interpersonal relationship and conversational flow. After multiple meetings, partners begin to accept a degree of responsibility for the dyadic talk by using conversational strategies like turn-taking and querying the partner about previously shared information. The role of a teacher during dyadic events includes being a coach who provides salient information, models interactive proficiencies, and guides evolving discussions.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Literacy|Reading instruction|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Rabinowitz, Rosanne Linda, "Adolescent dyadic talk around a young adult novel: Developing understandings and relationships" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3312050.