Towards constructive academic conflict : a study of the quality of children's group-talk in Hong Kong primary schools
The purpose of the present study is to investigate the quality of students' group-talk in order to understand how learning takes place during small-group discussion. The study took place in twenty-two Primary Five classes in eight elementary schools in Hong Kong. The average age of the Primary five students was eleven. In each class, about eight groups of discussion in General Studies lessons were audio-taped and one from the eight groups was randomly selected for observation. During whole class teaching, observation record was also taken. This data collection process was repeated twice for each class. The General Studies teachers and eight randomly chosen students from each class were interviewed. A Seesaw Working Model emerged from the current findings. The Seesaw Working Model explains children's group-talk through three seesaw positions. The 'Homeostatic Seesaw Position' is the optimal case while the 'High Cognitive Diversity and Low Social Unity Seesaw Position' and the 'High Social Unity and Low Cognitive Diversity Seesaw Position' are the two non-optimal cases. The optimal case shows that optimal learning requires a balance of cognitive diversity and social unity, as well as self-regulation and movement in group-talk. Cognitive Diversity refers to students' reasoning, conflicting views or open conclusion. Social Unity refers to students' humour, disagreement skills, maximum participation, or concern for peer social acceptance. The Working Model has yet to be tested at wider levels in future research.