• To encourage classroom discourse that empowers students, explores key concepts, elicits student ideas, and involves Emergent Multilingual Learners (EMLs)
  • To develop tools to help teachers plan and facilitate whole-class discussions
  • To provide experiences for undergraduate students to draw on in their future careers


Engaging middle school science teachers in schools with a relatively high proportion of EMLs

Observing and transcribing audio recordings

Coding transcripts to analyze current practices and develop opportunities for further teacher professional development

Collaborative development of specific scaffolds that lead to more productive discussions

Theoretical Framework

  • CPDA framework combines three lines of inquiry:
  • Talk moves (Sarah Michaels)
  • Critical questions (Michael Nussbaum & Ian Dove)
  • Facets of learners’ understanding (Jim Minstrell & Ruth Anderson)
  • We are analyzing discussions based in Amplify Science, an online curriculum
  • Working with teachers, we are collaborating to implement 4 aspects of discussion methods:
  • planning for and reflecting on discussion questions
  • conceptual pauses
  • an open stance toward student contributions
  • eliciting student ideas and building toward more powerful explanations
  • We also aim to encourage more use of argument critique and evaluation

Data Collection Process

Recruited two teachers at one school

18 fully consented student participants

Observing and audio recording discussions

Preliminary Findings

  • Per teacher pre-assessment, they shared lower self-confidence for avoiding evaluative responses and closing off lessons
  • Teachers currently supplement Amplify science curriculum with small-group discussions using Kagan structures
  • Teachers are using discussion planning and reflection sheets to plan whole-class discussions
  • Teachers differed in how detailed they wanted planning prompts to be
  • Planning prompts are helping teachers align Kagan structures and Amplify curriculum with conceptual discussion goals

Future Plans

  • We plan to combine qualitative data (observation notes/coding of transcripts) with quantitative measures (data from standardized tests; demographic data; classroom test scores, i.e., pre- and post-unit assessments)
  • Analysis will continue in spring and summer

Research Team

Julissa Arroyo

NIEPRR Research Fellow

Natalie Garcia

NIEPRR Research Fellow

Gabriel Nuñez

A-ARL 3.0 Research Fellow

Samuel Self

NITEP Research Fellow

E. Michael Nussbaum, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Michael S. Van Winkle


Alain Bengochea, Ph.D.


Ian Dove, Ph.D.


This research was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Nevada Department of Education to support the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation (NITEP), the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation, Retention, & Research (NIEPRR), and the Nevada Educator Preparation Institute & Collective (NV-EPIC).