Understanding barriers to discussion-based learning: using an epistemological perspective to theorise student teachers' perceptions
Discussion-based learning (DBL) has the potential to develop valued higher-order thinking skills and dispositions that are key to teacher professional learning and development. However, whilst much is known about effective classroom teaching strategies, students’ lived experiences of discussion-based pedagogies are relatively under-reported. This study therefore adopts a qualitative/interpretivist approach to examine how a group of student teachers perceived and described their experiences of learning through discussion. Data were drawn from five female student teachers who were interviewed in their penultimate year of study. The findings suggest that the participants were mostly indifferent to, and often critical of the place and value of DBL. Moreover, how they articulated their views was connected to firmly held views about teaching, learning and knowledge that seem incompatible with the underpinning principles of discussion-based learning. This initial exploration of student teachers’ lived experiences of classroom discussion therefore offers educators a fresh way to problematise and conceptualise the challenges of student engagement and participation in discussion-based learning, and to consider approaches that challenge students’ deeply held assumptions about knowledge and learning.