'Can you talk me through your argument'? Features of dialogic interaction in academic writing tutorials

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Academic writing tutorials are regarded as beneficial when they are conducted in an egalitarian and dialogic mode of interaction, enabling students to negotiate and explore ideas. However, previous research has revealed a tendency towards tutor dominance and prescriptive, monologic teaching behaviour. The research presented in this article explored the nature of interaction and instructional talk in tutorials delivered by peer tutors. The peer-tutoring model is often chosen to facilitate discipline-specific advice; however, peer tutors may not always be sufficiently experienced and trained to deliver dialogic teaching. This study examined ten peer-led tutorials with the aim to make evidence-based recommendations for tutor training. The initial quantitative analysis led to the identification of the two most dialogic and the two most monologic tutorials, which were subsequently subjected to a detailed discourse analysis. The findings show an overall high degree of tutor-dominated interaction. In the few dialogic tutorials, however, the tutors’ skilful use of initiating and follow-up moves and frequent use of scaffolding techniques helped the students to engage more deeply with their topic and solve problems independently. The findings suggest that tutor training should focus more explicitly on the benefits, features and strategies of a dialogic tutoring approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Early online date3 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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