Teacher and student supportive academic discourse while engaged in small group fourth-grade literacy lessons

Patricia N Eckardt, Fordham University


This hypothesis-generating study initially sought to understand teacher and student supportive interactions within a literacy classroom. The researcher began with a thorough examination of three reading instructional methodologies that purported to be based on teacher support. Questioning the Author, Reciprocal Teaching, and The Scaffolded Reading Experience were reviewed, because the researcher had anticipated witnessing such scaffolds within literacy lessons. Data were then gathered in a small group, fourth-grade, reading class. Following data collection and analyses, however, the researcher recognized supportive instructional interactions derived from teacher and student academic discourse rather than predetermined reading programs purporting to be based upon foundations of teacher scaffolds. Due to this finding, the researcher narrowed the study's focus and questioned the nature of student and teacher supportive interactions, namely academic discourse, while engaged in fourth-grade small group literacy time. Four episodes from this reading lesson were intensively investigated. Exploratory talk and presentational discourse were two primary talk types evidenced. Based on transcript analysis and triangulation of data, findings from this qualitative study generated two hypotheses that addressed classroom concerns. Analyses of data suggested supportive academic discourse may enhance student inquiry when reading challenging texts in class, and classrooms in which exploratory talk is prompted may lead to increased conceptual learning. The researcher proposes altering the nature of a traditional and hierarchical academic discourse pattern to one based upon democratic principles. A less structured discourse pattern consisting of the sequence inquire, wait, think, and share may offer students authentic learning opportunities that intrinsically inspire inquiry.

Subject Area

Pedagogy|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Eckardt, Patricia N, "Teacher and student supportive academic discourse while engaged in small group fourth-grade literacy lessons" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3632088.