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Enhancing Classroom Talk in the Early Years through Sustained Shared Thinking

This project will investigate the effectiveness of a professional learning program aimed at enhancing early years teachers' knowledge and practice of differentiating their management of classroom talk so as to provide increased opportunities for the kinds of dialogic interactions that develop and extend children's understanding. Such quality interactions, also known as Sustained Shared Thinking, are critical to effective early childhood programs and the achievement of differentiated learning goals. This project responds to concerns regarding the lack of quality interactions in early childhood settings and the ability of teachers to manage talk so as to achieve enhanced learning outcomes in both play-based and teacher-led learning experiences.

The key aims of the project are:

  1. to explore and document teachers' understandings and implementation of classroom talk. (What do they know about: managing classroom talk so as to achieve a range of learning outcomes; creating a supportive culture for classroom talk);
  2. to develop teachers' knowledge, understanding and practice of managing talk in ways that create opportunities for SST;
  3. to provide opportunities for teachers to investigate their discourse practice through data collection and analysis; and
  4. to develop a community of learners through partnerships between teachers involved in the program.

Research over the last decade has shown that quality early school experiences can be supportive in terms of children's learning and development in the long term, so that a more conscious awareness of the pedagogic processes that are involved is likely to be extremely valuable in the development of professional early childhood educational practice.

This project will contribute to:

  • current teacher understanding and classroom practice in relation to developing opportunities for Sustained Shared Thinking; and
  • the effectiveness of the action research process in enhancing teachers' knowledge, planning and practice for managing interactions in early childhood classrooms so as to achieve differentiated learning outcomes.

Funding agency

Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia  (AISWA).

Project duration

Data collection will begin in March, 2015, with the final report being delivered by April, 2016.


Professor Caroline Barratt-Pugh
Dr Pru Smith

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