This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Constructing Meaning through Talk: A Research Study Examining the Use of Dialogic Discourse in Guided Reading to Promote Student-Centered Classroom Practices in Primary Classrooms




Finley, Stacie

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


Teachers have been tackling the best approaches to teaching reading comprehension for decades. The classroom teacher becomes a vital component in improving the critical thinking students must develop within academic settings. Fostering the development of the metacognitive processes needed to support students’ ability to think critically and meaningfully before, during, and after reading requires the classroom teacher to utilize a multitude of skills and strategies. One way teachers can encourage and strengthen students’ thought processes is through dialogic discourse. Dialogic discourse is thinking and talking about reading at a deeper and more meaningful level. From this discourse, emerges new knowledge and learning. The strategic use of dialogic discourse during small group instruction, specifically during the implementation of the guided reading structure, has the potential to better enhance students’ metacognitive processes, which leads to more student-centered classroom practices. An embedded mixed methods study was conducted to understand how teachers and students experience and perceive the use of dialogic discourse within guided reading and to further examine implications which can be made on the use of dialogic teaching in guided reading to promote student-centered classroom practices. Using the social constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2008), this study collected various points of data in order to examine how dialogic discourse might help to develop more student-centered classrooms when strategically placed within the guided reading framework. This study included five primary classroom teachers with intact kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms in a Southeastern state in the United States. Data were analyzed using the open and focused coding process to potentially develop a theory grounded in the data. Evidence derived from the data supported teacher-participants who made attempts to engage students with more opportunities to read books and have more dialogue around text were able to create opportunities for students to transfer knowledge from one task to the next task. Teacher-participants who made attempts to use questioning as an instructional support to construct meaning also created more student-centered classroom environments as the students were taking more ownership in their learning.