Talk Science Impact

Grade 4

The Grade 4 teachers participated in the Talk Science research in 2010-2011, and a subset of the same teachers participated a second time in 2011-2012. Our work with the teachers in 2010-2011 allowed us to develop and test a collection of web-based multimedia resources for teachers' professional learning, and to test our initial research design and analytic instruments. Based on feedback from the teachers, we refined the multimedia resources, and began developing the Talk Science professional development pathway to help teachers visualize and understand the scope and structure of the program. Preliminary research with the Grade 4 teachers in 2010-2011 also helped inform our research questions, and plans for data collection and analysis for subsequent work with Grade 5 teachers in 2011-2012.

Research with the Grade 4 teachers provides evidence of certain changes in their facilitation of classroom science discussions. The findings show that after participating in the Talk Science program in 2011-2012, almost all teachers increased their use of academically productive talk strategies to guide students' science learning, and specifically, they more often used talk moves to deepen students' reasoning and to promote active listening of peers' ideas. Furthermore, through a comparative analysis of a subset of teachers who participated two times, we found that during both years teachers increased their use of productive talk strategies to guide discussions after the program. At the end of their second time with the program, teachers' use of the strategies was the greatest. Teachers focused more frequently on deepening students' reasoning, and began to draw on strategies to foster active listening and students' co-construction of science understanding after participating in the program.