Prof. from Penn State University Promotes Quality Talk
To elevate and strengthen the skills and teaching quality of teachers in NTNU, the Center for Teaching and Learning Development invited Prof. Karen Murphy as the keynote speaker of EMI (English as a Medium of Instruction) workshop and she talked about the methodology of Quality Talk.
Quality Talk is an approach to conducting discussions that promotes students’ high-level comprehension of text, where high-level comprehension refers to critical-reflective thinking and epistemic cognition about and around text. The approach is premised on the belief that talk is a tool for thinking, and that certain kinds of talk can contribute to high-level comprehension. Prof. Murphy is the principal investigator of the project. Her major filed is to enhance the learning effect through quality talk in class.
The in-depth discussion consists of four main elements: the guiding framework, “speaking/discussion”, scaffolding, and educational principles. Professor Murphy mentioned that although the framework of traditional teaching also includes conversations, the protagonists are mostly teachers, speaking to students. In-depth discussion will enable teachers and students to generate more interactions and to develop students' ability to express spontaneously by speaking and discussing.
The ideal guiding framework is to "achieve high-level understanding and critical analysis thinking." Professor Murphy pointed out that in the actual classes, the teacher can first explain the steps of in-depth discussion to students, and then divide the students into groups of six to eight people for a 15 to 20 minutes discussion, which should be led by the students.
Another major element of in-depth discussion is "speaking and discussion", which is to encourage students to express their opinions through speaking or to demonstrate their ability to judge. There is no certain form of discussion, and there is no correct answer. Professor Murphy reminds that the questions discussed between the teacher and the student can be an open-ended one, like "what do you think if...?” "What if…what would you do at the time?". These would be helpful in stimulate creative thinking and discussion.
Common forms of discussion include Exploratory Talk and Cumulative Talk. The former attaches great importance to the high level of interaction among the members, and constructive responses between constant challenges of each other's ideas. Teachers or leaders should clearly point out before the discussion that everyone is encouraged to challenge each other's positions as much as possible; the latter also requires collaboration but the point is not to refute others or to debate, it is to help each other, by quoting or supplementing the speech of the former classmate, to accumulate the content of conversation and then acquiring knowledge.
In scaffolding, Professor Murphy believes that teachers can create a suitable and independent discussion environment for students by affirming students' speeches and giving clear answers. She also mentioned that teachers can also challenges students and let students think differently.
In the workshop led by Professor Murphy, she explores in detail the ways and values of implementing "deep discussion." This kind of teaching method is built on the traditional teaching method. Teachers will guide the students when needed so that the students truly become the protagonists in the learning process. The participants in the workshop all agreed that this is an informative workshop.