Dialogic teaching to the high-stakes standardised test?

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16 Scopus citations


Within current educational discourse, dialogic pedagogy is diametrically opposed to teaching to the test, especially the high-stakes standardised test. While dialogic pedagogy is about critical thinking, authenticity and freedom, test preparation evokes all that is narrow, instrumental and cynical in education. In this paper, we argue that such positioning of dialogic pedagogy as antithetical to testing is detrimental to attempts both to foster dialogue in classrooms and to constructively manage the high-stakes standardised tests that are compulsory in so many schools. Drawing on an extended case study of dialogic teaching in one London primary school, we argue that while standardised testing is indeed an impediment to dialogic pedagogy, it does not follow that dialogue is impossible or undesirable within the testing context. By adopting an ironic stance towards the test, teachers can fulfil test preparation mandates while maintaining dialogic ideals and practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-610
Number of pages15
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2017


  • Dialogic pedagogy
  • classroom discourse
  • linguistic ethnography
  • standardised testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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