Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

John M. Peters

Committee Members

Mary F. Ziegler, Sandra P. Thomas, William M. Park


This study addresses the process of knowledge construction experienced by a group of students during a graduate education course. Data sources included transcriptions from student interviews, participant-observer notes, and audiotape recordings of classroom dialogue. Analysis of data revealed seven categories of themes: exploration, nonparticipation, respect, frustration, congruence, reflection on experience, and feelings. Although the themes overlap, they describe complexities of dialogue as a mode of discourse in a formal classroom environment. Relationship building and the necessity of developing a process-orientation to learning were found to be the most difficult aspects of learning for students in their attempts to jointly construct knowledge. Participants were mindful of the need to create space for one another in order to facilitate understanding and create meaning. Implications for research on dialogue as a mode of classroom discourse are discussed, as are implications for practice in formal teaching and learning contexts.

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