Using IRIS Connect to monitor exploratory talk in the classroom

John Sibbald

John Sibbald

Rhiannon Farrell is a teacher of English at a comprehensive secondary school in the West Midlands.  She is also a teaching and learning advisor and Year 9 English manager at the school.  Rhiannon ‘has a passion for implementing research in the classroom and experimenting to see the impact in my settings, my particular areas of interest are oracy and literacy both with the English department and whole school.’

As part of a research project for University of Northampton, IRIS Connect was used to record and monitor the discussions in a Year 9 GCSE English Classroom.

The aim of the project was to consider the social and emotional impact of exploratory talk on students through analysing their engagement, confidence and if there is an impact on the length and quality of student’s verbal contributions in the classroom.  The sample class were taught for 1 week (4 lessons) using the standard IRF participation model. One of the lessons (lesson 3) was transcribed and the students completed a survey to assess their willingness to participate and engagement (lesson 4). Then, students were given an introductory talk about the adaptation of the following lessons and were introduced to the discussion guidelines.

After practising the discussion guidelines, we progressed to 4 consecutive lessons using exploratory talk to support their learning of unseen poetry. Transcripts were collected from recordings of lessons using IRIS Connect and questionnaire feedback collected through Google Forms. IRIS Connect is a software that is used school-wide and equipment that students are familiar with in the classroom. Therefore, it seemed the most practical way to take a lesson transcript without bias or influential behaviour from students.

Of the IRF lesson transcript, the average student response was 5 words suggesting the majority of the talk in the classroom came from the teacher. In comparison, the exploratory talk lessons saw an increase in both the quality and length of student responses but also probing phrases such as ‘why’ and ‘what does x mean?’.

IRIS Connect is a powerful tool for personal reflections on classroom practice as well as a compelling tool for educational and pedological research.

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