The power of words : a study of the intentional use of language to frame interactions in the elementary classroom
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This study explored how the epistemologies of elementary teachers guided their intentional use of language during literacy instruction. Using a qualitative approach, data were gathered through a survey, teacher interviews, observational data, and stimulated recall. The four primary participants were chosen due to their alignment with the stance that students are either constructors of knowledge or receivers of knowledge. Sociocultural discourse analysis provided a way to examine how instructional language is used to frame interactions in the classroom and how the language that is used related to the teacher's epistemology.The findings show that the distinctions among the epistemological stances of teachers are not a dichotomy, but instead are a continuum. Furthermore, evidence provided examples of how individuals can philosophically align with a more sophisticated stance than they demonstrate in practice and that teachers have the potential to develop levels of personal epistemology through meta-awareness.Based on the findings, it is recommended that teachers participate in professional development that strengthens their capacity to engage students in deliberation and inquiry patterns to extend the dialogue sequence. To prepare future educators, pre-service teachers should be assigned to cooperating teachers who have a firm footing in their given curricular area and/or grade level and who have been shown through an evaluative tool to have a level of meta-awareness that allows for professional reflection on the consistency between personal epistemology and practice.