Opportunities to Talk Science in a High School Chemistry Classroom

The purpose of this study is to develop a better understanding of the discourse strategies employed by students and a chemistry teacher as they engaged in various activities in the classroom. More specifically, the paper examines how discourse supports or constrains opportunities to engage in experimentation and making sense of new experiences. Data, collected daily for four weeks in a high school chemistry classroom, included ethnographic fieldnotes, video-recordings, and interview transcripts. Discourse analysis was combined with other data to produce a rich description of the classroom. We show that various discourse strategies were employed by the teacher in order to maintain control of the discourse, which was consistent with both his and his students'' expectations and aims. The study argues that an understanding of the micro-discourse strategies that contribute to issues of control of talk and activities by the teacher in the classroom has important implications for learning science.