Education K-12 M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Silmser, Lisa


Since the advent of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory on the importance of social interaction in learning, teachers have sought to include more collaborative opportunities for their students. One avenue for that in English classes is discussion on literature. The research question posed was, “What are effective ways to foster rich, authentic, text-based discussions among general education high school students in English class?” Unfortunately, the trend has been for those “discussions” to be lopsided in participation with teachers dominating the conversations. While whole-class discussions have their place, small group discussions allow students to co-construct meaning as they talk about a common text. To effectively implement those experiences, teachers should cultivate a positive social environment in class, give students a chance to see and reflect on a quality discussion, make sure students have a chance to adequately prepare by reading the common text, and explicitly teach effective discussion strategies to students. Lower-track students also benefit from discussions, though they may require more scaffolding and time for strong discussion skills to emerge, but because students generally appreciate engaging in discussions with their peers around literature, the effort is worth it.

Degree Name

Education K-12 M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Education Commons