Can whole class discussion effectively prompt self-reflection on personal opinions? A T-SEDA inquiry in Québec

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Boissard, Bénédicte
Audet, Geneviève
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Educational Level
ISCED Level 3 Upper secondary education
Geographical Setting
Background and purpose: Trial research was conducted to address the need for professional development in dialogic practices among teachers and to explore the implementation of the T-SEDA toolkit in the French-Canadian context, aiming to improve educational dialogue and enhance students' critical thinking skills through dialogue.

Aims: The objective of this research had a dual purpose: first, to improve educational dialogue in Contemporary World classes in Québec, and second, to investigate how the implementation of educational dialogue, supported by the T-SEDA toolkit, could enhance students' critical thinking skills, particularly in the context of taking a position on contemporary world issues in secondary schools.

Study design or methodology: The trial research aimed to study the T-SEDA toolkit's impact on dialogic teaching practices among secondary school teachers in Quebec. Three teachers, selected for their interest in discussion-based activities, willingly participated after being approached by their professional development leader. This paper presents a practitioner study focused on improving critical thinking in Contemporary World classes. Approximately 120 secondary 5 students from a public school north of Montreal participated. The teaching sequence comprised six 75-minute lessons, designed for whole-class discussion and gathering evidence of students' thoughtful consideration of alternative perspectives and potential opinion revision. A worksheet tracked students' initial opinions, interesting discussion points, changes in opinion, and self-reflection, emphasizing the use of T-SEDA's sentence stems.

Findings: While there were no formal metrics in place to assess the effects, the teacher's impressions and recollections point towards improvements in both the quantity and quality of student contributions, as well as their effective use of dialogue. Based on the evidence from student worksheets, it appeared that most students engaged in reflection on the subject, lending support to the potential benefits of educational dialogue in stimulating a reconsideration of their opinions. Students expressed satisfaction with the opportunity to re-evaluate their perspectives and amend their arguments following the discussion.

Conclusions, originality, value and implications: Students found the activity enjoyable and meaningful, leading the practitioner to consider incorporating more whole-class dialogue. Students' engagement and proper use targeted talk moves indicate that dialogue can be taught and can contribute to fostering critical thinking and perspective-taking among students. The adoption of a dialogic approach in the Quebec school system holds potential for substantial benefits and warrants greater acknowledgement and endorsement.
Keywords (free text)
whole class discussion , T-SEDA , taking position , secondary education , contemporary world , critical thinking
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