“Low Ability,” Participation, and Identity in Dialogic Pedagogy

Julia Snell, Adam Lefstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Teachers are increasingly called on to use dialogic teaching practices to engage active pupil participation in academically challenging classroom discourse. Such practices are in tension with commonly held beliefs about pupil ability as fixed and/or context independent. Moreover, teaching practices that seek to make pupil thinking visible can also make perceived pupil “inarticulateness” and/or “low ability” visible, with important implications for pupil identities. This article explores how teachers in a dialogic teaching intervention managed the participation and identities of “low ability” pupils. We use linguistic ethnographic methods to analyze three different case studies in which teachers seek to include underachieving pupils’ voices in the discussion and discuss implications for dialogic pedagogy and the study of classroom social identification processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-78
Number of pages39
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • classroom discourse
  • dialogic pedagogy
  • identity
  • linguistic ethnography
  • pupil ability
  • pupil participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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