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Exploring task design to promote discipline-specific reasoning in primary English

Oliver, Michaela; Higgins, Steve

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This paper draws upon a growing body of research emphasising the importance and prevalence of domain-specific practices in teaching and learning. Different disciplines have their own reasoning practices, conceptualised as reasoning styles, which are used to justify conclusions drawn. Although there is widespread recognition of the importance of teaching reasoning, this has proven difficult in practice. This is particularly challenging in subjects where reasoning practices have received limited attention. This paper focuses on reasoning in the curriculum subject of English in primary schools (as taught in compulsory education in England). Drawing on a theoretical framework of reasoning styles constructed for English, this paper asks: how can domain-specific reasoning styles be promoted in English for primary schools? It is suggested that engagement in domain-specific reasoning can be promoted through carefully selected and designed tasks, which foreground collaboration and dialogue. Empirical evidence illustrating domain-specific reasoning in student dialogue is presented. Evidence demonstrates the particular value of two task designs (diamond ranking and odd one out) to the realisation of reasoning styles. Sfard's (2001) participation metaphor and the concept of meta-discursive rules are used to explore the value of these task designs in promoting reasoning. Of particular value is their demand for explicit decision making, and the way in which visual aspects scaffold student thinking. To promote engagement with meta-discursive rules (or reasoning styles), students require structures which foreground and require participation in dialogue, collaboration and reasoning.


Oliver, M., & Higgins, S. (2023). Exploring task design to promote discipline-specific reasoning in primary English. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 47, Article 101230.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 29, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 30, 2022
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 5, 2023
Journal Thinking Skills and Creativity
Print ISSN 1871-1871
Electronic ISSN 1878-0423
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Article Number 101230


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