SCIENCE CLASSROOM TALK: A DOMAIN FOR THE EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF SCIENCE
Classroom talk is a teaching strategy which is used by teachers to deepen the understanding of scientific concepts during classroom discourses. It enhances strong relationship and collaboration among learners and their teacher during science lessons. This study examines science classroom talk as a domain for effective teaching and learning of science in schools. This was done to explore the communicative approaches teachers use for teaching science in the classroom and to reveal the nature of emerging learner talk. One physical science teacher and 28 grade 8 learners in a classroom participated in this study. Data was collected by means of classroom observation and audio recording of five lessons of the actual classroom teaching. The model of teacher communicative approaches by Mortimer and Scott (2003) was used to analyse the nature of classroom talk. The developed model provides the perspectives on how a teacher should work with the learners to create new ideas in the classroom during the teaching of science. It is defined by characterizing the talk between the teacher and learners into: Interactive-non-interactive Dimension; Dialogic-authoritative Dimension. The findings of this research revealed that all five lessons were interactive. Two communicative approaches were mainly used in all five lessons; interactive dialogic and interactive authoritative communicative approaches. There were only a few episodes of the other two forms of communication; the non-interactive dialogic and non-interactive authoritative forms in all five lessons. The emerging learner talk was mainly exploratory and cumulative learner talk which resulted in some evidence of meaning making during most of the lessons. The implications of these findings for teacher education and for future research are discussed.