Dialogic education, historical thinking and epistemic beliefs: a design-based research study of teaching in Taiwanese classrooms

Change log
Chang, Chih Ching 

The study reported in this dissertation explored: (1) teachers’ use of dialogue to facilitate students’ historical thinking and (2) the trajectory of historical personal epistemology through a design-based approach. Empirical evidence emerging in previous decades has acknowledged that good quality classroom dialogue could have a positive impact on students’ learning. Through dialogic teaching, it has been argued that teachers could probe and promote students’ higher thinking skills. However, how dialogue is being used in history classes as well as the cultural context of dialogic education in East Asia was a salient gap in current research. The first research aim was to explore both teachers’ and students’ epistemic beliefs regarding the domain of history, which has been largely neglected in this field of study. The aim of this research was also to propose a new perspective on dialogic education that might not only bridge the dichotomy of the monologic and dialogic forms of teaching, but also address the pedagogical dilemma in history education raised by the latest Taiwanese national curriculum reform. Finally, another major aim of the research was to design a teacher professional development programme to change teachers’ epistemic beliefs and their teaching practice towards dialogic history education for promoting historical thinking.

Adopting the notion of design-based research, a teaching professional programme was designed and administered throughout the one-academic year to 7 high school teachers. Three students of each participating teacher were chosen for semi-structured interviews to explore their personal epistemology, which were later analysed with an innovative discourse analysis method: Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA). Data concerning classroom dialogue was collected from monthly class observations and then analysed with a reconceptualised coding framework adapted from the Teacher’s Scheme for Educational Dialogue Analysis (T-SEDA, Hennessy, et al., 2021) and an observational instrument for historical thinking (Gestsdóttir, et al., 2018).

In regard to personal epistemology, the findings reported a mixture of results with only a few students seeing a significant change in their epistemic beliefs after the programme. However, a pattern-based model for analysing historical epistemic beliefs reported from this study, has been generated resulting in four major patterns of beliefs being identified. In terms of classroom dialogue, the results found a positive increase in teachers’ use of dialogue. A hybrid form of dialogue informed by current dialogic theories synthesised with Confucianism and Taoism allowed dialogue to transgress away from the dichotomy of structural forms of monologue and dialogue was also put forward and characterised from the analysis. The contributions of this present study are discussed in terms of theoretical, methodological and practical uses.

Wegerif, Rupert
Hennessy, Sara
design-based research, dialogic education, Epistemic Beliefs, High school, historical thinking and reasoning, Taiwan, Teacher Professional Development
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge