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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rating Instructional Conversations: A Guide


The current focus on more effective ways to foster literacy in school-age children, especially language minority students, has led to the development of alternative instructional approaches. One such approach is the instructional conversation (IC), based on early work in the Hawaiian Kamehameha Elementary Education Project (KEEP), on neo-Vygotskian theory, and on recent classroom-based research on reading comprehension.

The present report outlines preliminary efforts to operationalize more fully the concept of the IC and describes an observational tool, the IC Rating Scale, to examine classroom-based reading comprehension lessons. Preliminary data on the reliability and validity of the IC scale are presented, followed by sample transcripts of instructional conversations from actual reading comprehension lessons. Cautions and unresolved questions to be considered in using the scale are discussed, and suggestions are mace for further investigation.

Readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of instructional conversations and their use in the classroom may want to consult the following publications from the National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning.

The Instructional Conversation: Teaching and Learning in Social Activity (Research Report No. 2) by Roland G. Tharp & Ronald Gallimore

Instructional Conversations and Their Classroom Application (Educational Practice Report No. 2) by Claude Goldenberg

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