BSc Education

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Classroom Communication and Learning

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC31052
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Topics for study include:

  • Vygostky's theory of learning & child development
  • The nature of teacher-pupil talk
  • The power relationship between teacher and pupil
  • Social background and pupil participation in classroom discussions
  • Pupils talking in small groups


Via Blackboard


This unit aims to:

  • enhance students understanding of the specialised nature of communication and language in the classroom environment
  • enable students to understand the role of communication in fostering children's learning
  • provide students with increased knowledge and understanding for analysing spoken language in the classroom

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify key theories of learning and child development and their relationship to language development.
  • analyse the effectiveness of different forms of classroom communication in supporting children’s learning
  • List the key explanations outlined in the research literature to explain the role of communication in producing inequalities in education.

Intellectual skills

  • apply current research perspectives to understanding pupil learning in a language rich classroom context
  • report on current research and theory in the field of classroom language and communication
  • explain how the study of language/communication is relevant to education and teaching and learning.

Practical skills

  • apply current research perspectives to understanding pupil learning in a language rich classroom context
  • report on current research and theory in the field of classroom language and communication
  • explain how the study of language/communication is relevant to education and teaching and learning.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • debate using research evidence on issues relevant to language and education.
  • work collaboratively to solve complex problems regarding education relevant to a range of professional contexts.

Teaching and learning methods

Tutor-led seminars and workshops will scaffold student reading and discussion around the central themes. The conceptual input during seminars and workshops will lead to directed group work and private study outside the classroom. Tutors will present appropriate literature and resource material both through hard and virtual (using Blackboard) media.  As befits a unit exploring learning through classroom communication, students will be encouraged to share their own learning and understanding through debate and critical evaluation during the module.

Assessment methods

Assessment task Word length or equivalent Weighting
Poster and/or presentation Single sided poster slide plus single reference list 50%
Literature review essay 2000 50%


Recommended reading

  • Agarwal, P. K. (2019). Retrieval practice & Bloom’s taxonomy: Do students need fact knowledge before higher order learning? Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(2), 189–209
  • Alexander, R. (2017) (5th ed) Towards Dialogic Teaching: rethinking classroom talk. Dialogos ISBN: 9780954694333.
  • Alexander, R (2020 in press) A Dialogic Teaching Companion London: Routledge
  • Arnot, M., & Reay, D. (2007). A sociology of pedagogic voice: Power, inequality and pupil consultation. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 28(3), 311-325.
  • Aubry, K. & Riley, A. (2015) Understanding and Using Educational Theories. London: Sage
  • Barnes, D. (1976) From Communication to Curriculum. Harmondsworth: Penguin
  • Barnes, D. and Todd, F. (1995) Communication and Learning Revisited: Making Meaning Through Talk. Portsmouth, N.H: Boynton/Cook Publishers Inc.
  • Bates, B. (2015) Learning Theories Simplified: and how to apply them to teaching. London: Sage
  • Bearne, E; Dombey, H and Grainger, T. (2003) Classroom Interactions in Literacy. Maidenhead: Open University Press
  • Brice-Heath, S., (1983) Ways with words Cambridge:CUP
  • Bruner, J. (1977). Early social interaction and language acquisition. In R. Schaffer (Ed.), Studies in
  • mother–infant interaction (pp. 271–289). New York: Academic.
  • Bruner, J. (1983) Child’s talk. Learning to use language. London, Oxford University Press
  • Bruner, J. (1996). The culture of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  • Edwards, D. and Mercer, N. (1987) Common Knowledge: The Development of Understanding in the Classroom. London: Routledge.
  • EEF (2017) evaluation of CPRT/Uni of York study Improving children’s learning through dialogic teaching
  • Goodman, S; Lillis, T; Maybin, J & Mercer, N. (2003) Language, Literacy and Education: A Reader. Open University Press
  • Gregory, E., (1996) Making Sense of a New World  London:Paul Chapman
  • Gregory, E., & Williams, A., (2000) City Literacies Learning to read across generations and cultures London:Routledge
  • Hopwood, L., (2012) Encountering English Education: The experiences of newly arrived teenage migrants in monolingual English schools and colleges. PhD thesis University of Manchester
  • Littleton, K & Mercer, N (2013) Interthinking: Putting talk to work London: Routledge
  • Littleton, K.(2013) Educational Dialogue in Holliman, A. (ed) The Routledge International Companion to Educational Psychology chapter 7 London: Routledge
  • Mercer, N. (1995) The Guided Construction of Knowledge. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters
  • Mercer, N. (1996) The quality of talk in children’s collaborative activity in the classroom Learning and Instruction Vol6;issue4;pp359-377
  • Mercer, N. (2000) Words and Minds: How we use Language to Think Together. London: Routledge
  • Mercer, N. (2010)  The Analysis of Classroom Talk: Methods and Methodologies. British Journal of Educational Psychology 80, p.1-14
  • Mercer, N (2019) Language and the Joint Creation of Knowledge  London: Routledge
  • Mercer, N., Wegeriff, R., Major, L. eds(2019) The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education  London: Routledge
  • Mercer, N & Littleton, K. (2007) Dialogue and the development of children's thinking: a sociocultural approach. London: Routledge
  • Mercer, N & Hodgkinson, S. (2008) Exploring talk in school. London: Sage
  • Myhill, D; Jones, S and Hopper,

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Lise Hopwood Unit coordinator
Sophina Choudry Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity Hours allocated
Staff-student contact

12 x 2 hour taught workshop sessions plus seminar drop in support sessions = 30

Blackboard online  discussion                                 


Private study 52
Directed reading 4 hours prep for each session: 48
Assessment preparation 50
Tutorials 2
Total 200


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