Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Learning About Language Through Inquiry-Based Discussion: Three Bidialectal High School Students’ Talk About Dialect Variation, Identity, and Power

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The field of literacy studies has seen decades of calls for scholarship and instruction that address issues of dialect diversity, identity, and power but few empirical studies that document students’ engagement in classroom activities designed to address these issues. The goal of this article is to describe how three bidialectal African American high school students learned about language variation, identity, and power through their participation in a small-group, inquiry-based discussion. The authors’ description analyzes both the learning opportunities and limitations provided by the design of the inquiry-based discussion and also the content learning about the English language that was evidenced by the students’ talk. The findings suggest that inquiry-based discussions, when driven by carefully worded questions, can lead to robust student learning about language variation and can engage students in authentic disciplinary problem posing.